The Phillips Code is a brevity code (shorthand) created in 1879 by Walter P. Phillips (then of the Associated Press) for the rapid transmission of press reports by telegraph. It defined hundreds of abbreviations and initialisms for commonly used words that news authors and copy desk staff would commonly use. There were subcodes for commodities and stocks called the Market Code, a Baseball Supplement, and single-letter codes for Option Months. The last official edition was published in 1925, but there was also a Market supplement last published in 1909 that was separate.
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).
Later, The Evans Basic English Code expanded the 1,760 abbreviations in the Phillips Code to 3,848 abbreviations
Examples of use
Using the Phillips Code, a message could be composed and sent as this ten-word telegram:
ADDG LG WORDS CAN SAVE XB AMTS MON AVOG FAPIB.
Whereupon receipt by the news desk, it would be expanded to this:
Abbreviating long words can save exorbitant amounts of money, avoiding filing a petition in bankruptcy.
Famously, the Kansas City Star published the following code in 1910:
“T trl o HKT ft mu o SW on Mu roof garden, nw in pg ...”
Which the news desk should have transcribed as the following before sending it to the typesetter:
“The trial of Harry K Thaw for the murder of Stanford White on the Madison Square Roof Garden, now in progress ...”
The term POTUS and SCOTUS originated in the code (with SCOTUS appearing from the very first edition of 1879 and POTUS was in use by 1895, and being officially included as early as the 1923 edition) 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 (such as the 92 Code), to describe the article's priority or confirm its transmission. This meta-data would occasionally appear in printed newspapers,[not in citation given] especially the code for "No more - the end", abbreviated as "- 30 -" on a typewriter.
Excerpts of the codes
|Igo||In consequence of|
|Oac||On account of|
|Wam||Ways and means|
|_ _ _ _||Paragraph mark|
|ITC||In this connection|
|IQO||In consequence of|
|IAB||Introduced a bill|
|IAR||Introduced a resolution|
|HVNB||Have not been|
|Hur||House of Representatives|
|GOH||Guest of honor|
|IWR||It was reported|
|IXJ||It is alleged|
|KAH||Knots an hour|
|CIC||Commander In Chief|
- 1879: The Phillips Telegraphic Code for the Rapid Transmission by Telegraph, published by Gibson Brothers Printers
- 1909 Market Supplement
- 1918 edition (implied by an article in the September 1923 edition of the Commercial Telegraphers' Journal, Volume 21)
- April 1, 1923, edited by E.E. Bruckner and published by Telegraph & Telephone Age.
- "The Phillips Code".
- Evans, John (1947). The Evans Basic English Code (PDF). Chicago, IL: John & Clarence Evans.
- "President of the United States". World Wide Words (copyright Michael Quinion). Retrieved 2009-01-26.
- 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.
- "Entry from July 30, 2011 SCOTUS (Supreme Court Of The United States)".
- Phillips, Walter (1879). The Phillips Telegraphic Code for the Rapid Transmission by Telegraph. Washington, D.C.: Gibson Brothers, Printers.
- "So Why Not 29?". American Journalism Review - Oct/Nov 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
- "September 1923 edition of the Commercial Telegraphers' Journal, Volume 21".
- "Morse Telegraph Club, Inc. Sampling of the Phillips Code" (PDF).