Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A numeronym is a word, usually an abbreviation, composed partially or wholly of numerals. The term can be used to describe several different number-based constructs, but it most commonly refers to a contraction in which all letters between the first and last of a word are replaced with the number of omitted letters (for example, "i18n" for "internationalization").[1] According to Anne H. Soukhanov, editor of the Microsoft Encarta College Dictionary, it originally referred to phonewords – words spelled by the letters of keys of a telephone pad.[2]

A numeronym can also be called an alphanumeric acronym or alphanumeric abbreviation.



A number may be substituted into a word where its pronunciation matches that of the omitted letters. For example, "K9" is produced "kay-nine", which sounds like "canine" (relating to dogs).

Examples of numeronyms based on homophones include:

Numerical contractions[edit]

Alternatively, letters between the first and last letters of a word may be replaced by the number of letters omitted. For example, the word "internationalization" can be abbreviated by replacing the eighteen middle letters ("nternationalizatio") with "18", leaving "i18n". Sometimes the last letter is also counted and omitted. These word shortenings are sometimes called numerical contractions.

According to Tex Texin, the first numeronym of this kind was "S12n", the electronic mail account name given to Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) employee Jan Scherpenhuizen by a system administrator because his surname was too long to be an account name. By 1985, colleagues who found Jan's name unpronounceable often referred to him verbally as "S12n" (ess-twelve-en). The use of such numeronyms became part of DEC corporate culture.[3]

Examples of numerical contractions include:

Purely numeric[edit]

Some numeronyms are composed entirely of numbers, such as "212" for "New Yorker", "4-1-1" for "information", "9-1-1" for "help", "101" for "basic introduction to a subject", and "420" for "Cannabis". Words of this type have existed for decades, including those in 10-code, which has been in use since before World War II. Chapter or title numbers of some jurisdictions' statutes have become numeronyms, for example 5150 and 187 from California's penal code. Largely because the production of many American movies and television programs are based in California, usage of these terms has spread beyond its original location and user population.

Examples of purely numeric words include:

Repeated letters[edit]

A number may also denote how many times the character before or after it is repeated. This is typically used to represent a name or phrase in which several consecutive words start with the same letter, as in W3 (World Wide Web) or W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).

SI prefixes[edit]

Numeronyms can also make use of SI prefixes, as are commonly used to abbreviate long numbers (e.g. "1k" for 1000 or "1M" for 1000000).

Examples of numeronyms using SI prefixes include

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pope, Mike (2012-02-29). "It's a Number! It's a Word! It's Both!". Vocabulary.com. Retrieved 2023-12-19.
  2. ^ Jeffrey McQuain (September 16, 2001). "Screening the Novel Words of Harry Potter". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 5, 2016. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
  3. ^ Tex Texin. "Origin Of The Abbreviation I18n". Retrieved September 14, 2005.
  4. ^ "Canonical XML". W3C. Retrieved November 11, 2007.
  5. ^ "INTEROPERABILITY.net". Archived from the original on August 2, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2007.
  6. ^ "a11yproject.com". Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  7. ^ "Modularization of XHTML in XML Schema". W3C. Retrieved November 11, 2007.
  8. ^ "p13n – Wiktionary". en.wiktionary.org. Retrieved 2019-09-12.
  9. ^ "s{horte}n". s5n.pw.
  10. ^ a b "Localization vs. Internationalization". w3.org. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  11. ^ "About". a16z.com. Andreessen Horowitz. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  12. ^ "Kubernetes (K8s) README". Kubernetes. November 12, 2020 – via GitHub.
  13. ^ Jeffries, Andy (September 24, 2019). "What's the difference between k3s vs k8s". civo.com. K8s is just an abbreviation of Kubernetes ("K" followed by 8 letters "ubernete" followed by "s").
  14. ^ Hartshorne, Ben (2018-06-26). "How Are Structured Logs Different From Events?". Honeycomb. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  15. ^ "Exclusive XML Canonicalization Version 1.0". w3.org. Retrieved 2022-10-28.
  16. ^ Faye Flam (2010-04-23). "Iceland a hot spot of volcanic activity". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2023-11-27. Some scientists have come to abbreviate the volcano as E15, for the 15 letters that follow the E
  17. ^ "Incubator 143 Lab". Fred Rogers Institute.
  18. ^ Hill, Evan; Tiefenthäler, Ainara; Triebert, Christiaan; Jordan, Drew; Willis, Haley; Stein, Robin (2020-05-31). "8 Minutes and 46 Seconds: How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  19. ^ "8 minutes, 46 seconds". St. Cloud Times. Retrieved 2020-06-02.