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.

  • 3
    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
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 16:26

2 Answers 2


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.)

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 5:03

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
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 7:35
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    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
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 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. Commented Dec 25, 2018 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! Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 20:01
  • @MarkHubbard must have been sleepy. Look up Zulu (z-) time. Love amply requitted, though.
    – Kris
    Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 10:19

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