"POTUS” is an acronym for “President Of The United States.” The shorter “POT” stood for “President of the” in the book The Phillips Telegraphic Code (1879) by Walter Polk Phillips. “POTUS” has been cited in print since at least 1895.
Similar acronyms include “PEOTUS” (President-Elect Of The United States), “FLOTUS” (First Lady Of The United States), “VPOTUS” (Vice President Of The United States), “SCOTUS” (Supreme Court Of The United States), “COTUS” (Constitution Of The United States) and “TOTUS” (Teleprompter Of The United States).
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Etymology: Acronym < the initial letters of President of the United States. Compare FLOTUS n.
slang (orig. and chiefly U.S.).
(The) President of the United States.
Originally a newspaper wire and telegraph code word; later used esp. among White House staff before passing into more general use.
1895 Birmingham (Alabama) Age-Herald 14 Apr. 21/3 In addition the more frequent phrases are skeletonized to the limit of safety. ‘Scotus’ is ‘supreme court of the United States’; ‘potus’, ‘president of the United States’.
1903 Fort Wayne (Indiana) News 25 Feb. 5/2 This is the way a message is sent on the wire: T potus, ixs, wi km to Kevy‥. This jargon of letters conveys the following information: The president of the United States, it is said, will communicate to King Edward VII.
The Phillips telegraphic code for the rapid transmission by telegraph of press reports, commercial and private telegrams, and all other matter sent by wire or cable.
By Walter Polk Phillips
Washington, DC: Gibson Bros.
Pot—President of the.
30 November 1895, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, pg. 6:
One night a receiver on The Constitution’s press wire took a sentence which read: “The Potus today made the following appointments.” “Potus” stands for “president of the United States,” and “scotus” for “supreme court of the United States.”
22 February 1903, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “The Language of the Wire” (Edgar Legget Keen, in Philadelphia Evening Post), pg. A12, cols. 6-7:
“Supreme court of the United States” and “president of the United States” are coded by using the first letter of each word;...
SIGNAL CORPS MANUAL, No. 2
Regulations for the Management of the U. S. Military Telegraph Lines
By Major Joseph E. Maxfield
Washington, DC: Government printing Office
Pot...President of the
Potus...President of the United States
October 1904, Atlantic Monthly, “Machinery and English Style” by Robert Lincoln O’Brien, pg. 465, col. 2:
To illustrate: S-c-o-t-u-s stands for the “Supreme Court of the United States,” a sign obviously made from the initials of the words represented, just as “potus,” makes “President of the United States.” While Scotus thus stands for six words, it is impossible to have “s.c.,” its first two letters, stand alone for “Supreme Court,” because those letters are wanted for South Carolina. “Supreme Court” by itself is not abbreviated.
Operator’s Wireless Telegraph and Telephone Handbook;
A complete treatise on the construction and operation of the wireless telegraph and telephone, including the rules of naval stations, codes, abbreviations, etc.
By Victor Hugo Laughter
Chicago, IL: F.J. Drake & Co.
Pot. — President of the.
Potus. — President of the United States.
New York (NY) Times
By BEN ZIMMER
Published: December 16, 2010
In English, the first known acronyms (as opposed to plain old initialisms) cropped up in the telegraphic code developed by Walter P. Phillips for the United Press Association in 1879. The code abbreviated “Supreme Court of the United States” as SCOTUS and “President of the...” as POT, giving way to POTUS by 1895. Those shorthand labels have lingered in journalistic and diplomatic circles—now joined by FLOTUS, which of course stands for “First Lady of the United States.”
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Sunday, July 31, 2011 • Permalink