49

The UTC is a measure for coordinating activities in multiple regions of the earth in timing. It means "Universal Time Coordinated". What does that mean grammatically? Can you unravel this message with more signal words?

I would say "Universally Coordinated Time" which means that the same time is used by many people - the time is universally coordinated.

The other statement means almost the same if not the same, but I don't know how to understand this grammar construction / word construction. Thanks.

  • 2
    I always assumed it was because they wanted it to have three letters (like GMT, EST, etc.) and just made up a third word to go along with "Universal Time" – Richard Dec 19 '18 at 16:26
115

UTC does not stand for Universal Time Coordinated.

It stands for Coordinated Universal Time, at least in English.

From Wikipedia:

The official abbreviation for Coordinated Universal Time is UTC. This abbreviation arose from a desire by the International Telecommunication Union and the International Astronomical Union to use the same abbreviation in all languages. English speakers originally proposed CUT (for "coordinated universal time"), while French speakers proposed TUC (for "temps universel coordonné"). The compromise that emerged was UTC, which conforms to the pattern for the abbreviations of the variants of Universal Time (UT0, UT1, UT2, UT1R, etc.)

-11

It is one of the several variants in the group of "Universal Time" standards (irony of all ironies).

It's probably that the other members of the group do not talk to each other, so a new standard that does was needed -- a "co-ordinated" standard.

Now we can see that "Coordinated" is essentially a second thought, a qualifier that is more in the nature of a subscript than a full-fledged adjunct.

Just read it with an implied comma:

Universal Time, Coordinated.

meta: The above is from the ELU point of view; restricted to the ELU purview.

Natl. Hurricane Ctr; NOAA "What is UTC or GMT Time?"

Prior to 1972, this time was called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) but is now referred to as Coordinated Universal Time or Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). It is a coordinated time scale, maintained by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM). It is also known as "Z time" or "Zulu Time". (emphasis mine)

  • 4
    How is this is more correct than other sources? And how does the link back your claim that "probably that the other members of the group do not talk to each other" or "Now we can see that "Coordinated" is essentially a second thought" - I don't see anything remotely to that effect in the link. – vlaz Dec 19 '18 at 7:35
  • 9
    According to the quote and the link, UTC is maintained by Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM), who are very consistent in UTC standing for Coordinated Universal Time. See, the annual reports for 2017 (it's the same with accross the last five years) the timescale service, about the establishment of UTS, etc – vlaz Dec 19 '18 at 7:45
  • Kris, I LOVE this answer, which seems right out of Monty Python. I'm going to start using "Zulu Time" myself, which, although no one will know WTF I'm talking about, sounds really cool. "Hey mate, have you got the time?" Me: "Sure. It's 11:36 Zulu Time." I'm afraid that "Z-time" sounds a little too sleepy. – Mark Hubbard Dec 25 '18 at 19:37
  • 1
    @MarkHubbard For what it's worth, Zulu time is very common in certain industries, e.g. aviation. In fact, it's weird if you don't use Z-time there! – Kevin Workman Dec 25 '18 at 20:01
  • @MarkHubbard must have been sleepy. Look up Zulu (z-) time. Love amply requitted, though. – Kris Dec 26 '18 at 10:19

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

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