There are two special abbreviations showing the significance (or 'weight') of a bit in a set (or nibble): lsb (least significant bit), msb (most significant bit). Both "lsb" and "msb" are not general English words therefore that abbreviations could be unambiguously distinguished among other words within sentences.

Similarly, i search for a pair of terms for first and last [bit transmitted] on wire, i.e. defining the transmission order of a bit in a set. And if with first-on-wire - abbreviated as fow - i see no trouble because "fow" is not a common English word (as Google Translate assures me), abbreviating of last-on-wire results in the well-known word "low" which could rise disambiguations.

Google Translate gives a rare (as I assume) synonym for the word "last"—the word "dernier" (adj.) that results in dernier-on-wire and dow, which is not a common English word today. Then fow:dow seems as a good pair, based on this. But...

1) Is it correct? (I am not native speaker; it's difficult for to me to understand these kinds of things by myself.)

2) Are there other synonyms for "last" and "first" more widely known/used that would be more comfortable/relevant in this case (whose abbreviations also must/should not intersect with general/common English words)?

Beforehand thanks.

  • Ultimate. And the one before that is penultimate.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 20:55
  • Jinx! @HotLicks lol! Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 20:57
  • 1
    BTW, what's wrong with "last"?
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 20:58
  • How about FoW and LoW? Might be enough to caution reader it's not a word...
    – anemone
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 21:02
  • 1
    @asndre Well, I don't know about your context. But in the context you've quoted, I wouldn't worry about 'low' being a word.
    – anemone
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 21:11

2 Answers 2


"Ultimate" fits both your criteria as a replacement for "last" and won't be confused with a common English word..."UOW"

Per the Google Dictionary, ultimate, in this sense, is defined as:

adjective: ultimate

  1. being or happening at the end of a process; final.

Example: "their ultimate aim was to force his resignation"

I perused the synonyms but sadly, "concluding" and "terminal" would spell "COW" or "TOW", both common English words

  • fow is for final-on-wire... what is for first-on-wire in that case?
    – asndre
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 20:59
  • oops! my bad! Removing "Final" from my answer since I can't use another word to replace "first" ("beginning" doesn't work either..."BOW".) Thanks @asndre! Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 21:02
  • And what about "dernier"? Is it correct synonym for adj. "last" for your opinion?
    – asndre
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 21:08
  • @asndre - "dernier" is not a common English word. In fact, it only appears to be used as a part of several borrowed French idioms.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 22:03

Best and most common:

Former & Latter

You may abbreviate "former" as "fmr." and "latter" as "ltr.".

That is one of the best and most common set of synonyms used in place of "first" and "last". Though they are not precisely interchangeable, they work in many situations.

Consider this article.

Alternatively, if you need to be irregular and create something special or more concise, consider FST & LST:

  1. FST is proper

"FST" is a proper abbreviation for "first", so "LST" naturally fits for readers, even with no prior knowledge, merely by the juxtaposition.

  1. Use uppercase, not lowercase (in this situation)

Using lowercase letters would be a bad idea because in many serif and Roman fonts the "l" (L) looks like a "1" (one) so "lst" (LST) looks like "1st" (1 ST).

  1. Don't punctuate (in this situation)

Don't use a period because then "last" has the same number of characters as "lst."; using capital letters would clear this up.

  • 1
    Are "former" and "latter" applicable for time-related (ordered in time) events? (The article you given show only "time-less" ("time-independent") examples.) Is it suitable to use these words in my scope, i.e. (at least in the sense of) "former-on-wire", "latter-on-wire"?
    – asndre
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 8:21
  • Generally, yes, they can work with time. Consider "former president" and "Latter Day Saints".
    – Jesse
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 9:25
  • Certainly! Make sure you "Check" the correct answer. ;-)
    – Jesse
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 9:45

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