"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.)

  • 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. Jan 27, 2011 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, 2011 at 17:55
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    @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, 2011 at 10:42
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    @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, 2011 at 14:53
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    @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 Jan 28, 2011 at 18:50

3 Answers 3


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").


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.

  • 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. Oct 3, 2012 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, 2013 at 2:20
  • @imsoconfused: The "kibibyte" is a neologism (and IMHO an ugly one at that); I personally think a clearer term for 1024 bytes is "Kbyte" (pronounced "kay bite").
    – supercat
    Aug 28, 2014 at 21:49

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!

  • A good start, but I think we need a consonantal stop at the end. Maybe "tribs"? Jan 27, 2011 at 17:40
  • Tee-bees perhaps?
    – user3444
    Jan 27, 2011 at 18:06

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