Phillips Code

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The Phillips Code is a shorthand method created in 1879 by Walter P. Phillips for the rapid transmission of press reports by telegraph.

The code consists of a dictionary of common words or phrases and their associated abbreviations. Extremely common terms are represented by a single letter (C - See; Y - Year); those less frequently used gain successively longer abbreviations (Ab - About; Abb - Abbreviate; Abty- Ability; Acmpd - Accompanied).

The terms POTUS and SCOTUS originated in the code[1][2] and entered common parlance when newsgathering services (in particular, Associated Press) adopted the terminology.

Telegraph operators would often interleave Phillips Code with numeric "Wire Signals", to describe the article's priority or confirm its transmission. This meta-data would occasionally appear in printed newspapers,[3][not in citation given] especially the code for "End of article" - 30.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "President of the United States". World Wide Words (copyright Michael Quinion). Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  2. ^ Safire, William (1997-10-12). "On Language; Potus And Flotus". New York Times - October 12, 1997 (N.b. mistakenly claim POTUS first appeared in the later 1925 edition). Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  3. ^ "So Why Not 29?". American Journalism Review - Oct/Nov 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 

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