It is said that XLAT is an abbr of translate. But I don't understand how come it ends up like that? There is no site on internet would explain it but they're all agree that XLAT is shorten of translate. I can get that LAT is in the end part of translate (LATe) but what about the X?

  • I believe it may derive from a computer programme of that name.
    – WS2
    Feb 19, 2019 at 23:06
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    Welcome to EL&U. See Why can “trans” be replaced with an x? In short, X has been used as an abbreviation for cross (e.g. RR XING) for some time because it is the same basic shape as all manner of cross symbols (e.g. × ✕ ╳ ✖ 🞩 + ✠ ✛ ☩ ✚). Since trans- means to be across from something, to be at a distance to be crossed, and like meanings, abbreviating trans- as X has also taken hold especially in technical spheres, e.g. XFER, XMIT.
    – choster
    Feb 19, 2019 at 23:06

1 Answer 1


'Trans' is a prefix meaning 'cross', as in 'Trans-siberian Express' or 'Trans-continental railway'.

X is used as an abbreviation of 'cross', thanks to its resemblance to a cross, and despite the shift in meanings of 'cross'.

So XLATE or XLAT is used as an abbreviate of 'translate'. XFER is similarly used as an abbreviation of transfer.

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    I quite agree, though I was struggling to find any evidence. X is certainly used in plant breeding for a cross. See under 'hybrid' in BBC Gardening and xlation is used to mean "translation" in a variety of contexts, as an online search shows. The Free Dictionary redirects me to 'translation' without actually mentioning why! Feb 19, 2019 at 23:27
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    Associative xconnections of the brain xmografes trans to x in these ecrossulent abbreviations ?
    – visibleman
    Feb 20, 2019 at 7:04
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    x is also used as a generic word-shortener (consider for example tx for transmit and rx for receive). Is there any evidence that this case was a specific relationship between x and trans rather than just a generic shortening? Feb 20, 2019 at 12:38
  • So, this is the True meaning of Xmas
    – aloisdg
    Feb 20, 2019 at 13:00
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    @DJClayworth no, it's because Christ (in Greek) starts with a Χ.
    – OrangeDog
    Feb 20, 2019 at 15:15

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