WX, The Weather Abbreviation?
Did you know that WX is the abbreviation for weather? Why is the weather abbreviation WX? There’s not even an “X” in the word weather. It doesn’t seem to make any sense. It all started back in the 1830s when Samuel Morse, along with other inventors, developed an early form of long distance communication called the telegraph. It was a machine that transmitted electrical signals across a wire that was laid between stations great distances apart.
Using Morse code, a message could be sent quickly over long distances. Basically, it’s a code language built with short and long beeps that can be translated into letters. Since it was a tedious process, the early users looked for shorthand abbreviations to shorten the messages being sent. This is not unlike our shorthand versions of “LOL” or “J/K” for laugh out loud and just kidding used in text messaging today. Weather was one such longer word that was used often enough that a shorter version was desired. “WX” became the shorthand abbreviation for weather.
Why WX? What is the WX Meaning?
I’m not sure it’s known why it became WX. I’ve heard a few different reasons and can’t seem to substantiate either one of them. In some circles, it’s said that the sound of W, then X in Morse code just sounded good or was easy to make. Others will tell you that “X” was often used for the word exchange, thus WX was the weather exchange. Either way, it does seem odd that it stuck!
Ham Radio / Weather Radio
Years after Morse code and the telegraph here popularized in the 1800s, Ham radio also adopted the WX moniker. They also often use shorthand abbreviations for commonly used terms. Even more recently, starting in the 1950s, NOAA came out with the “weather band” where weather reports are broadcast 24 hours a day. Since the weather band was seen as an extension of the AM/FM dial, WX once again fit well. NOAA labeled the weather radio channels “WX1” through “WX7”. It fits pretty well on weather radios that also offer the AM and FM frequencies. They now now carry the moniker AM/FM/WX.
WX Meaning Today
Since the heavier use during the days of the telegraph, WX has long been known to a select ground of weather enthusiasts, military personnel, ham radio operators, and those from the aviation and maritime sectors. However, in recent years with the popularity of social media and texting bringing back some shorthand and abbreviations for commonly used terms, the WX is making a comeback to the main stream. Today we see WX at the beginning of the web address for weather-related websites (like here at WXobservation.com, playing on the abbreviation to shorten “weather observation”). It’s also used as a hashtag (#wx) and in texting to report the weather, among other social uses these days.
Ok, here is a fun little exercise that should help you save some time. Go to Google and type in your city with “wx” behind it (leave the quotation marks off). This should pull up links that have your local weather forecast in them!