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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

What do SCOTUS, POTUS, and FLOTUS mean in U.S. official’s names?

-OTUS, an abridged version of the term “United States,” was added to the impossibility of our language, as it is a suffix and an abbreviation (or, if you prefer, to begin with). However, this collection has been quite successful. We started using OTUS in the late 19th century, and we are still discovering new ways to use it today.

‘POTUS’ began as a summary used by telegraphic coders in the 1890’s. It represents the “President of the United States.”

The first recorded use of any variation of OTUS since 1879, when SCOTUS (United States Supreme Court) appeared in a book entitled The Phillips Telegraphic Code for the Rapid Transmission by Telegraph. This work, by Walter P. Phillips, was one of many codices that allowed people to send cheap or private messages by telegraph. Telegraphs were priced based on length, so one wanted to use as few words as possible. SCOTUS appeared between scoundrel abbreviations (scndrl) and scribble (scribl).

The next name – OTUS to insert our names was POTUS, short for “President of the United States,” which was used in early 1895. POTUS also started as an acronym for telegraphic code operators. It was not the first summary used by the telegraphic community on the subject: Frank Miller’s Telegraphic Code of 1882 guaranteeing privacy and security in telecommunications offered a proposal to send the word mortmain, rather than “U.S. President.” Since one of the definitions of mortmain is “the influence of the past which was considered to be controlling or limiting the present,” it seems probable that the compiler of the code book had a poetic concept.


Although SCOTUS and POTUS are the most common terms for using this suffix, they are far from perfect. FLOTUS (“First Lady of the United States”) appeared in the 1980s, when it may have emerged as the code name for Nancy Reagan’s Secret Service. The Vice President is sometimes called VPOTUS, although the difficulty of pronouncing the first vp of that name probably contributes to its lack.

Occasional misuse of OTUS will emerge, such as COTUS (constitutional) and TOTUS (teleprompter, in pursuit of President Obama’s visible use). Time will tell if other words – OTUS continue to join our language.

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