Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

"Bit" and "byte" are monosyllabic and therefore short enough to throw around.

"Kilobyte" is expressed as "K".

"Megabyte" turns to "meg", and "gigabyte" to "gig".

Is there a convenient/conventional abbreviation for "terabyte" and up? The pace of storage and transfer rate increases has already begun to necessitate such terms, but I am unaware of existing ones.

(The question is also relevant to units of speed, since the above abbreviations are used commonly for words ending in "-hertz" as well.)

share|improve this question
1  
Aside: These higher prefixes (kilo, mega, giga, tera, peta, exa, etc.) come from SI prefixes (where they are powers of 10) and are not necessarily powers of 2. See e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_prefix In the case of "-hertz", they are certainly never powers of 2. –  ShreevatsaR Jan 27 '11 at 17:44
    
TB PB EB ZB YB. Search terabyte on wikipedia, you will get the full list. Oh, do not forget googol. –  user3812 Jan 27 '11 at 17:55
2  
@WAF not really every setting, only memory really uses powers of 2, clock speeds, network speeds and sometimes disc sizes use powers of 10 (discs get complex as they may mix powers of 10 and 2) –  jk. Jan 28 '11 at 10:42
1  
@ShreevatsaR I'm a) not sure why you assumed I am male and b) sticking to my non-tautological guns on this one. What I meant was that "the traditional mega- etc. prefixes are" not only more popular but also refer specifically to memory (@jk01 good point) blocks in increments of powers of 2. –  WAF Jan 28 '11 at 14:53
1  
@WAF: I apologise for "he". I actually considered a while whether to type "he or she", even clicked your profile to see if there were hints, but then, somehow, decided it was likely ok to leave it as "he". My mistake, sorry. About the kilo/mega/… prefixes, besides their meaning powers of 1000 in every context (like hard disks :p) except memory, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_prefix , which reveals OS X and some programs starting to use them in the decimal sense. In the tussle between inconveniencing humans for the sake of computers and viceversa, the latter ought to win eventually. :p –  ShreevatsaR Jan 28 '11 at 18:50
show 4 more comments

3 Answers

I'm also unaware of any abbreviation for terabytes as storage of that capacity is still relatively rare in consumer equipment. I volunteer 'tees', as it sounds good.

This baby has 3 tees of hard drive space!

share|improve this answer
    
A good start, but I think we need a consonantal stop at the end. Maybe "tribs"? –  Chris B. Behrens Jan 27 '11 at 17:40
    
Tee-bees perhaps? –  user3444 Jan 27 '11 at 18:06
    
Tebs? ......... –  ShreevatsaR Jan 27 '11 at 19:06
add comment

Terabyte hard drives are actually the standard now, and their capacity is listed as TB, just as GB and MB before them.

The only short spoken form I've heard is T ("tee").

share|improve this answer
add comment

Where I work, and we deal with storage systems quite a lot, we just call them by the part of the name before byte.

Thus, I recently told my IT manager that I need another three tera of storage. I've not reached petas yet myself, but some friends of mine certainly use the term.

As an aside, it is important to remember that these things are being used as an approximation of the decimal powers to the binary powers. A kiloHertz is 1000 Hertz (10^3), whereas a kiloByte is 1024 Bytes (2^10). This is due to the natural affinity humans have to the powers of ten, and computers to the powers of two.

share|improve this answer
    
weeeeeeelll technically no, 1024 bytes is a kibibyte. A kilobyte is 1000 bytes, as per metric standards. But in any normal (colloquial) usage you are correct, of course. –  im so confused Oct 3 '12 at 19:34
    
About two years later, but I think the accepted conventional abbreviation from what I've heard amongst an (admittedly techie) group of friends and VFX artists is 'teras'. –  tanantish Jan 18 '13 at 2:20
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.