'Postscript' is a single word in modern English, and Dictionary.com states that it's even based on a single Latin word, postscrīptum. So, why do some abbreviate it to p.s. (or P.S.), as on this Wikipedia page? Is it OK to abbreviate it as ps.?

Update: It seems Dictionary.com may have been wrong with its etymological explanation of the modern English word. Nevertheless, given that the modern English 'postscript' is one single word, shouldn't the abbreviation be able to be updated?

  • 6
    Because abbreviating it as “P” wouldn't be very clear, would it?
    – F'x
    Sep 14, 2011 at 10:45
  • 1
    Nope, but I like ps. ... then again, I like eg. and ie. too.
    – Jez
    Sep 14, 2011 at 10:53
  • 2
    Dictionary.com is clearly wrong. Anyway, your question about its spelling is related to Punctuation after “P.S.”
    – Alenanno
    Sep 14, 2011 at 11:09
  • @F'x: "Because abbreviating it as “P” wouldn't be very clear, would it?" That's why it's not even under consideration at all. (Abbreviations are not limited to single letters, of course.)
    – Sz.
    Jun 1, 2021 at 22:50

3 Answers 3


It seems that Dictionary.com might have made a mistake in connecting the two words. Both Etymonline.com and Wikipedia agree on it being separate:

Etymonline.com: 1520s, from L. post scriptum "written after," from neuter pp

Wikipedia: The term comes from the Latin post scriptum, an expression meaning "written after"

Thus, the explanation for why it's written P.S. is probably because it came from two separate Latin words.

  • But is it now legitimate to say ps. instead?
    – Jez
    Sep 14, 2011 at 8:19
  • No, as everyone still writes it as "p.s." or "P.S.", haven't heard of "ps." yet
    – Thursagen
    Sep 14, 2011 at 9:58
  • @Thursagen: It's not probably, but the exact reason why it's written P.S., because they are 2 words. :)
    – Alenanno
    Sep 14, 2011 at 11:24
  • 2
    @Jez: P.S. is not only used in English. Also German uses it as P.S., while PS stands for "Pferdestärke" — "Horsepower" Sep 14, 2011 at 19:47
  • Do we have precedent in English for putting a period after contracted abbreviations? Reading "ps." I would assume the word began ps... and interpret the abbreviation as psychology or something. If we were to recognize the single word nature it would just be ps, no period.
    – Unrelated
    Dec 14, 2013 at 22:48

Dictionary.com is wrong here. The correct Latin origin is post scriptum, literally "after the written", definitely 2 words. I've had Latin in school.

  • Short and clear, and I agree with you. +1 :)
    – Alenanno
    Sep 14, 2011 at 11:35

The word postscript may be based on a single latin word (the jury seems to be out on that one...), but it's not the english word postscript that you use for a postscript in a letter (or the single latin word that it might be based on), it's the latin term post scriptum, which is two words.

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