Origins of Common Abbreviations

The following is an article from Uncle John's Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader

£ for lb. Meaning: Pound

Origin: The abbreviation originates with the Latin phrase libra pondo, which means "a unit of measurement by weight." The Romans shortened the phrase to pondo, which ultimately became pound in English, but the abbreviation of the first word - lb., for libra- endured. The symbol for British currency is a stylized L, or £, which comes from the same source. The value of the British pound was originally equal to one pound of silver.

V.I.P. Meaning: Very important person

Origin: This frequently used contraction was created during World War II by a British officer in charge of organizing flights for important military leaders. In order to conceal the names from enemy spies, each of these were referred to as a "V.I.P." in the flight plan.

Mrs. Meaning: A married woman

Origin: Originally, Mrs. was a shortened version of mistress, a word that used to mean "wife" but has since acquired a very different meaning. Strictly speaking, because the word it once abbreviated has changed its meaning, Mrs. is no longer an abbreviation - unlike Mr., its male counterpart, which can be spelled out as Mister.

K Meaning: A strikeout in baseball

Origin: In the 1860s when a batter struck out, it was proper to say that he "struck." It was during this era that a newspaperman named Henry Chadwick created symbols for use with his new invention - the box score. He gave each play a letter: S for sacrifice, E for error, and so on. Since S was already taken, he used to last letter of "struck" instead of the first to abbreviate it: K.

Rx Meaning: A drug prescription

Origin: Actually, there is no x in Rx. In Medieval Latin, the first word in medicinal prescription directing one to take a specific quantity of a concoction was recipe, meaning "take" or "receive." This was later symbolized as an R with a slash across its leg. The spelling Rx is an attempt to represent this symbol in English letters.

B.O. Meaning: Body odor

Origin: In 1933 the Lifebuoy Health Soap Company ran a series of radio advertisements containing their new slogan: "Lifebuoy stops B--- O---." A heavy two-note foghorn warning was synchronized with the "B.O.," giving the phrase a negative spin it has retained ever since.

D-Day Meaning: June 6, 1944, the day Allied forces invaded France during WWII

Origin: The D in D-Day does not stand for "designated" or "defeat," as many believe, but simply for "day." D-day actually means "day day." The redundancy comes from the common practice in army correspondence of referring to a top secret time as H-hour or D-day.

XXX Meaning: Marking on bottles in cartoons to indicate that they contain alcohol

Origin: During the 19th century, breweries in Britain marked their bottles X, XX, or XXX as a sign of alcohol content. The number of Xs corresponded to the potency of the drink.

The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader. Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

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Read somewhere that the X's for liquor show the number of passes through a still that the alcohol has made. Mark it with one X the first time, another the second, and so on. The more X's, the more times through the still, and thus the more potent...
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I've actually found factual errors in bathroom readers before. It seems like thay don't fact check throughly, OR state as fact some things that are ambiguous or not completely agreed upon.

I'm not sure if this is one case, but I've always heard the Rx symbol was derived from the Egyptian symbol 'Eye of Horus.'

Here's more info:

Wikipedia agrees with the Bathroom Reader, but wikipedia's accuracy is not absolute, as most people know.
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