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In the second book of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, contractors were told not to install a teleporter into a ship that's going to be sent into the sun. They did it anyway and put it in for 5x the price under "Sndry, explns." in the bill.

... the foreman had explained that the accountant could go and boil his head and the accountant had explained to the foreman that the thing approaching him rapidly from his left was a knuckle sandwich. After the explanations had been concluded, work was discontinued on the teleport which subsequently passed unnoticed on the invoice as “Sund, explns.” at five times the price.

I get that the first part is "sundry", but what is "explns"?

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Expln is a common abbreviation of the word "explain" found in programming and legal language. Presumably explns would be explanations.

Coupled with sundry (sndry), this would be

"sundry explanations"

otherwise known as

"various excuses"

  • 4
    I've deleted my answer as Valorum's is much more correct. – FuzzyBoots Apr 9 at 17:25
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    @FuzzyBoots I would be interested to see your answer, wondering how it's possible to be incorrect. – theonlygusti Apr 9 at 21:34
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    @theonlygusti I guessed "sundry expenses", a fairly common item in balance books, figuring that there was a chance that the quoted abbreviation might be less correct than thought (it was incorrect, but not that much). – FuzzyBoots Apr 9 at 21:51
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    @FuzzyBoots - I checked three different editions to ensure that it wasn't just a typo :-) – Valorum Apr 9 at 21:51
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    It's a pun. The contractor is charging for the "sundry explanations" (the argument and fistfight) but the charge went unnoticed on the invoice because to the accountant it looked at first glance like the more usual "sundry expenses". – Robyn Apr 10 at 7:09

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