I came across the word "cable" very often in http://www.guardian.co.uk.


I know what a cable is, but what does "cable" here mean?

  • You will sometimes encounter things like "cabled in" or "wired in" in older work; this is related.
    – user730
    Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 16:15
  • It has been amusing me how all the Wikileaks coverage has been about leaked "cables". I wonder why the media hasn't been calling them leaked emails?
    – stib
    Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 10:33
  • This question was posted in 2010, when this site did not have a "show research" requirement. It makes no sense to me to retroactively impose such a requirement on such an ancient question.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 21:29

4 Answers 4


The word "cable" has its origins in the days of the telegraph. Messages sent internationally via undersea cables were known as "cablegrams" or "cables", for short. Another interesting point to note is a cable (the means of transmission) is insulated and protected from external elements, distinguishing it from an ordinary wire, which is just bare metal. In the early twentieth century, governments and agencies communicated via cablegram and the name has since stuck. Another reason I would suggest for this enduring usage, even with the advent of modern telecommunications, is the security and encryption involved in relaying these messages. The messages are sent via a secure link and chances are that the signal even travels through an undersea fiber optic cable before reaching its destination!

  • 1
    RE: secure link: apparently, not secure enough :) Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 14:29
  • @Mr. Shiny and New: Apparently. On second thoughts, though, I would say the link was perfectly secure, but someone with access "leaked" them. Should this be regarded as a security issue or one of treasonable proportion?
    – Jimi Oke
    Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 15:37
  • 5
    one man's treason is another man's patriotism. Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 20:30

Back in the day, "cable" was used to describe communications sent abroad. In the case of Guardian, it seems to refer to news from overseas.

  • 3
    NB The newspaper is "The Guardian" (with a definite article), despite what its domain name (and a lot of the website) might lead you to believe :)
    – psmears
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 19:10

"Cable" in this context, means "cablegram." It refers to a report sent via a cable, not to the cable itself.


I believe "cable" is another word for "transmission," similar to the noun "wire"

Think Telegrams

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