Dictionary.com

What the “x” in “Xbox” stands for, plus when did “x” start to mean “the unknown?”

No letter in the English language gets around like X. The 24th letter of the alphabet shows up everywhere, from the popular Xbox to standing in for a signature on legal documents. It represents a chromosome, signifies the multiplication process, and marks “the spot” on treasure maps.

Let’s explore just a few of the uses of this versatile letter.

The story behind the X in Xbox isn’t as mysterious as you might think. The original name was the DirectX box, which came from a group of Microsoft DirectX developers. Microsoft DirectX is a collection of application programming interfaces.

Generation X, or Gen X, refers to the generation born after the Baby Boom ended; its last members graduated from high school in 1999. The photographer Robert Capa coined the term. But Douglas Copeland popularized it with a successful novel published in 1991. “Generation X” tells the story of members of an uncertain and lost generation.

There are a few theories regarding where and when X was first used to signify the unknown. One probable thought is that Descartes used the last three letters of the alphabet as unknowns to correspond with the first three letters, which were used for known quantities. X, of course, was part of this group.

X is often found in friendly and amorous correspondence next to O. In XOXO, X represents a kiss and O represents a hug. The first recorded use of this term for affection was in 1765.

Great Britain was the first country to designate films with raunchy content with X, and the U.S. soon followed suit.

In the same vein, XX on malt liquor stands for “double quality” and XXX stands for “strongest quality.” This designation dates back to 1827.

No Indian movies in Pakistani cinemas on Eid

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India) August 27, 2010 Islamabad, Aug. 27 — The Pakistani government has decided against allowing any new Indian film to be released in cinemas on Eid following demands from the local film industry.

Federal Minister for Culture Pir Aftab Shah Jillani said the decision had been taken to support the local film industry.

“If more Pakistani films are released, the industry might be able to sustain in Pakistan,” he said.

After the ebb in cultural activities in the month of Ramadan, Eid is considered an occasion to revive it. indianmoviesonlinenow.net indian movies online

Indian films were banned in Pakistani cinemas after the 1965 war between both countries. After a gap of over 40 years, the government of former president, Gen Pervez Musharraf, allowed the screening of select Indian movies subject to the censor board’s approval.

Bollywood movies have a huge fan following in Pakistan and pirated copies of these movies are readily available in local markets.

Coupled with the decline in local film industry, the government decided to allow films from across the industry.

However, local film producers and actors are generally not in favour of this decision.

They view the competition from Bollywood movies as a “killer blow” for the Pakistani film industry and have been advocating a ban on allowing Indian movies in local cinemas. web site indian movies online

Addressing a press conference here, actress-turned-director Sangeeta, Mustafa Qureshi and several other artists favoured the ban imposed on Indian movies for the coming Eid.

They warned that the actors, producers, directors, writers and technicians involved with the film trade will be forced to take to the streets if any such move was allowed.

Five Pakistani movies, they informed, were ready for release during Eid and demanded the government to allow the local industry to flourish.

Cinema owners, however, have a different take on this as they consider Indian movies a big source of raking in revenues. The film exhibitors’ association has said that they will take up the ban with the federal government and will try to get a relaxation.

The local industry does not produce enough movies and also lack in quality as compared to Indian movies, which makes it difficult to attract masses to the theatres, the cinema owners association argues.

About a dozen movies were made and released in Pakistan last year in different languages.

(Awais Saleem can be contacted at great_wall165@yahoo.co.uk) Published by HT Syndication with permission from Indo-Asian News Service.

For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at htsyndication@hindustantimes.com

109 Comments

  1. Gelydh -  December 24, 2013 - 10:47 pm

    Interesting article! But come on people. The ‘X’ in XOXO stands for kisses, not hugs; the Xbox was indeed originally called the DirectX Box; and the ‘X’ in ‘DirectX’ is simply a placeholder for the numerous products published under Microsoft’s Direct label.

    Please do your research before you go spewing things on public forums.

    Reply
    • Nancy -  December 19, 2014 - 10:43 am

      You should look before you criticize. He did say the X stood for kisses.

      Reply
    • Laura -  December 19, 2014 - 11:37 am

      The X does mean kiss :)

      Reply
  2. Carol-Lynn -  December 20, 2013 - 3:59 am

    So, what does the X in DirectX stand for?

    Reply
  3. Alexandr -  December 15, 2013 - 11:40 am

    X is the symbol for the old norse rune Gebo, the rune of love. That is why x makes a kiss. There is more runic in English than one might expect.

    Reply
  4. Tang -  December 14, 2013 - 8:27 pm

    Interesting read. I’d always thought the claims that the “x” in Xbox referred to x-rays, and Microsoft was essentially trying to “drop a nuke” on Japan’s Playstation product line like the U.S. did in WWII. Not kidding.

    Reply
  5. Heqtor -  December 14, 2013 - 8:52 am

    according to a TED talk by Terry Moore, the origin of using X for the unknown goes back before Descartes’ time to when scholars in Spain began translating Arabic texts on mathematics. It goes as follows

    The Arabic word for “a thing” or the unknown is “Shay’a” which starts with the Arabic letter “Sheen”. As there is no equivalent for the sound “Sh” in Spanish, their scholars adapted the closest letter in Greek which is the letter “Chi” as in the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός (Christ). Then from “Chi” it became the latin X that is in use today. See the talk here

    http://www.ted.com/talks/terry_moore_why_is_x_the_unknown.html

    Reply
  6. [...] X is the Greek letter “chi,” the initial letter in the word Χριστός. And here’s the kicker: Χριστός means “Christ.” X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years. This device is known as a Christogram. [...]

    Reply
  7. Mel -  June 15, 2012 - 8:51 am

    In the past, those who can’t write their names but have to vote, they signed “x”.

    Reply
  8. Ximena -  May 14, 2012 - 4:49 pm

    x begins my name! :D

    Reply
  9. bob -  September 10, 2011 - 12:29 pm

    X!

    Reply
  10. Mark -  August 10, 2011 - 4:29 pm

    @ anna: X has no meaning in medical terminology as ‘for’ … X is used in this manner across the language as ‘multipied by’

    Example:

    2 pills x 3 days – does not mean “take 2 pills ‘for’ 3 days” (though that’s what you will be doing), it mean “take 6 pills over a period of 3 days” (because 2×3=6). On a prescription, when a pharmacist reads, “2 1-0-1 x 3, it means 2 pills in the morning and two pills in the night, over (or into) 3 days … that’s your dosage, so he’ll give you 12 pills …

    :)

    Reply
  11. Mark -  August 10, 2011 - 4:20 pm

    X-Men (as asked by someone above) orignates from Professor X, their leader and mentor. Professor X gets his character title from his profession (as a professor) and his surname – Xavier (X being the short and cooler sounding form, simply because of the pronunciation Ex-zavier, as opposed to just Zavier).

    When Charles Xavier led his first battle with a group of gifted ‘mutant’ children, he helped them control their abilities in order to fight for their country; similar to military issue G-Men. The ‘G’ was replaced with X, since they were under the leadership of Professor X, making it “Professor X and his X-men”

    Makes sense?

    Reply
  12. Jiv -  August 1, 2011 - 1:50 pm

    Generation x has nothing to do with when (or whether) someone graduated from high school. After the baby boomers (those born from 1946 – 1964) the generations are measured in fifteen-year blocks, by the year of birth:
    Generation x 1965 – 1979
    Generation y 1980 – 1994
    Generation z 1995 – 2009
    Generation α (Greek letter alpha) will be those born from 2010 – 2014, ant then β (beta) and so on.

    Reply
  13. boofapples -  July 10, 2011 - 12:06 am

    “11-12 on November 12, 2010 at 1:41 am
    What color does x represents if letters have their own color to someone who can sense color of written scripture.”

    I have minor synesthesia and to me, X is jet black. This is odd and ironic, I guess, as all other letters are very bright in their colors (such as red, yellow, blue and so on). I guess it is fitting, though, that X would be so different.

    Reply
  14. save the best for last -  July 5, 2011 - 3:15 am

    Why do artists draw (x_x) to represent the eyes of someone/something who died?
    It’s fun learning something in a different angle..that’s what i’ve learned from those who posted first.. thanks! life is better when you’re alive…

    Reply
  15. Meta_X -  May 24, 2011 - 9:04 pm

    lol…. saw someone asking what color X is… I sometimes see numbers and letters as colors, but each one usually can be many different colors, depending on many factors. But mainly, the color of “X” for me is usually black. If used mysteriously, dark purple/black. If used in like a cool screen name or something (hehe), red/black.

    Reply
  16. Schmidty -  May 6, 2011 - 9:28 am

    I always thought it was called Xbox because the original looked like an X. It’s a box and it’s in the shape of an X. Xbox…

    And I know Jeff is wrong because the name used to be on xbox.com or at least that’s what my friend told me.

    Reply
  17. ana -  April 26, 2011 - 2:15 am

    x can also mean “for” in medical use. as in, fever x 3 days (fever for 3 days).

    Reply
  18. Iluhrich -  April 24, 2011 - 7:55 am

    Xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxx xx xxxxxx.

    Reply
  19. I.Cat -  April 14, 2011 - 7:30 pm

    still hasn’t answered the Q WHY the X is in xbox. ( or directx box)

    Reply
  20. brrradley -  April 10, 2011 - 1:04 pm

    XOXOXOX the X represents the arms of two people hugging and the O is the mouth opening for a kiss

    Reply
  21. Haydino -  March 23, 2011 - 5:46 pm

    Nice consonantal alliteration, Merry anne. C does have unique properties–CH to name one of them. And “c” has a slightly different sound than “s” in certain situations… say the word “racy” then say “rasy” and “raky.” The c is not totally like the s and nothing like the k.

    Reply
  22. Merry anne -  February 15, 2011 - 9:04 am

    We can’t get rid of the letter “C.” What would we teach our kids..the “ABDs”? We’d have to find a new tune or learn a new way to fit the 25 letters into the 26-beat old song. New alphabet books! Redesign the standard keyboard! Endless CHanges. Who will CHampion such an idea! Makes me CHortle. Fat CHance it could happen.

    Reply
  23. aktifistri -  February 14, 2011 - 7:17 pm

    To 11-12, Kristin, Pinki:
    I am interested with Synesthesea (you’re free to correct if the spelling is wrong) since after I recently listened to BBC podcast about it, i feel foolish that i found about it just when Im 33. Shame but that’s why we say ‘learning is an endless process”, huh? lol..anyway, Kristin and Pinki thanks for your very interesting answer!

    To HotwordsIsNoAuthorityOnWords:
    “From what I’ve read hotword is far from being an authority on words, there are often errors in these entries, or poorly researched etymology.”

    I think that’s why comment forum is for—to correct and evaluate (appraisal, critic, opinion, complete, thanking, etc). Objectively, no matter how imperfect this site can provide, still they’re doing pretty helpful job here. In the context of mass publishing and info, I always believe perfection comes with process and by contribution of many people. We end up doing nothing if we focus on presenting a perfection. This way helps us to educate ourselves to get use to double and cross-checking information too..

    Reply
  24. Jac Ben -  February 13, 2011 - 1:43 pm

    wouldn’t “y” be an easier to remove letter? (assuming of course we could be bothered to remove a perfectly good letter from the alphabet, just for fun).
    With “q”, I wonder why it is generally followed by a “u” (and in the instances where it isn’t, why that is).

    Reply
  25. Unwana the1stnissilent -  February 12, 2011 - 6:53 pm

    @Cj nd others: there’s also the musical intrument, the xylophone. (???) the other object that usually shows up to represent x on an alphabet instructional tool other than the x-ray.

    @Kristin: x is black 4 me 2! itz bcuz of tht whole mysterious factor like in yin of yin and yang.

    @Nicolas WithoutanH: u inspired my username for this.

    Reply
  26. Yarr -  February 12, 2011 - 5:45 am

    @Rampaw They had a whole thing on the “X” in X-mas a couple months back. I figured they would have copy and pasted some of it here.

    Reply
  27. Pinki -  February 12, 2011 - 5:38 am

    @11-12: For me, x would be indigo. :D
    @The First Commenter: X isn’t useless; it is cool, but not unnecessary.
    @Nicolas WithoutanH: FYI, lexicon has an x. ;P
    @Ferret: Lol!!!!

    Reply
  28. Kristin -  February 12, 2011 - 1:30 am

    @11-12 I have Synesthisia and strangely enough, for me X is black. The only other letter that’s black (for me) is i. They arent the same type of black though. x is a shiny black, like a newly polished car finish and i is just plain black.
    I didn’t check to see if anyone else answered your Q but I’m going to do that right after I submit this comment lol.

    Reply
  29. Antigone -  February 11, 2011 - 5:14 pm

    Karebear you really don’t seem to appreciate the subtlety of the letter ‘c’, in fact I’m shocked that you made such a brash and foolhardy statement.

    The letter ‘c’ cannot be easily replaced by ‘s’ and ‘k’ as it is not only important for pronouncing several words (that fit structures) with particular sounds that are essential to the dialect of many English people such as myself, but also to many other native and non-native English speakers throughout the world. In addition to that, it it also equally important, for the same and other similar reasons for all other languages that use the same alphabet.

    How would you go about pronouncing words like ‘much’ or anything with a ‘ch’? In the Spanish language, the ‘c’ is often used as a soft sound between an ‘s’ and a ‘k’. This is also true for English but I find that it is less prominent, especially where I am from.

    Reply
  30. Antigone -  February 11, 2011 - 5:05 pm

    In regards to the ‘x’ being used for a kiss due to the sound and shape, I do wonder whether there is any similar sound/shape relation to the clashing sound of swords as they meet to form an ‘x’. :/

    Reply
  31. Synesthete -  February 11, 2011 - 4:21 pm

    I’m a synesthete with the grapheme-colour manifestation.

    To me, X is purple, but to my friend, it’s red. To another it may be yellow, or orange, or blue.

    Any overlap of perception in grapheme-colour synesthetes is completely coincidental.

    Reply
  32. cato -  February 11, 2011 - 12:16 pm

    And just when did Robert Capa give us “Generation X” meaning those who came after the Baby Boomers? It was used far earlier than 1991. “Generation X” was the name of a well-known punk band from the late 1970s-early 1980s.

    Reply
  33. Uri -  January 18, 2011 - 2:07 am

    I remember spending a lot of time during my school years looking for X. Eventually we discovered that X is 10 and to commemorate that fact the X-is-ten-tialist movement was formed.

    Reply
  34. haimerej -  December 26, 2010 - 10:01 am

    Jenova specimen discovered in the geological stratum of at leaste 4000 years born XX Day XX Month XX Year was declared an ancient.

    Reply
  35. haimerej -  December 26, 2010 - 9:45 am

    also the potency of moonshine is always determined by the amount of X’s on the bottle.

    Reply
  36. haimerej -  December 26, 2010 - 9:43 am

    the letter x stands for XXX rated!!!!!!

    Reply
  37. Bex -  December 22, 2010 - 1:14 pm

    I thought that middle-and-high-schoolers of this generation were generation x? Like 12-18 ….
    Never heard of after the baby bomers…

    Reply
  38. CJ -  December 15, 2010 - 9:34 pm

    One more thing I too like these little bits of information that Dictionary.com displays everyday.

    Thanks!!

    Reply
  39. CJ -  December 15, 2010 - 9:31 pm

    I too also thought in XOXOXOX, the X represented to kiss, as in 2 people kissing on the lips and the O represented the hug, the O is the shape of hugging.

    Also Why does the worlds most popular coping machine, Xerox, start with the X when it should be the Z.

    Reply
  40. Karebear -  December 15, 2010 - 1:10 pm

    In response to the last part of Goofy_Charli’s poat, i agree whole-heartedly. The sounds that C makes aren’t anything that an S or a K could do already. I’m not saying we should go ahead and remove it from the alphabet right now but if you think about it, it’s not really necessary. Thank you for being someone who finally sees my side of this argument!

    Reply
  41. big-B -  December 15, 2010 - 5:29 am

    I left all my X’s in Texas drinking dosXX. No more X’s or O’s 4 them this Xmas.they are Xed from my list.i am now in an Xtreem relationship w/ my neXt X.dont tell her I said that or she will niX me into Xdom.

    Reply
  42. Harry Faversham -  December 14, 2010 - 6:35 pm

    Very interesting article really but I’m a T&A Man myself. X marks the spot.

    Reply
    • Laura -  December 19, 2014 - 11:48 am

      LMFAO!!! By FAR the BEST comment I’ve read!

      Reply
  43. hotword is no authority on words -  December 14, 2010 - 12:06 am

    this “bunch of tidbits” has it wrong, Kekoa and elle have it right!
    X is the symbol for hugs, arms extended before the embrace
    O is the symbol for kisses, mimicking the shape of the lips.
    Now that’s not too hard to figure out, is it?

    From what I’ve read hotword is far from being an authority on words, there are often errors in these entries, or poorly researched etymology.

    Reply
  44. Fusionbomb -  December 13, 2010 - 10:28 pm

    Tic-Tac-Toe, anyone?

    Reply
  45. X -  December 13, 2010 - 10:16 pm

    Fascinating article!
    btw i see why they went w/ xbox (which i’m playing right now)
    xbox does have a better ring to it than directbox (yawn) lol.. love this site! Glad I can say Xmas too without the Catholic guilt kicking in! lol

    xoxo

    Reply
  46. michael -  December 13, 2010 - 8:01 pm

    “X” never ever marks the spot on a treasure map-said by indiana jones and the last crusade i believe :D coincidence i think not !!!!
    jk

    Reply
  47. Matty -  December 13, 2010 - 6:33 pm

    Who is this Douglas “Copeland” you write of? Is he any relation to Douglas Coupland?

    Reply
  48. Achie -  December 13, 2010 - 4:45 pm

    In Algebra, X means unknown number
    In Schools, X means you gave a wrong answer, so the teacher crosses your answer.
    In Clothings, X means extra size
    But to exhange XMAS for the word christmas, doesn’t make any sense at all

    Reply
  49. OlympicSkater -  December 13, 2010 - 4:28 pm

    Me again!
    What about “Z”?

    Reply
  50. OlympicSkater -  December 13, 2010 - 4:26 pm

    What is with “Q”? I would love to know the history of “Q”. Please post history about it, Dictionary.com!

    Reply
  51. Don M -  December 13, 2010 - 3:59 pm

    I always assumed X was for kiss because the K for kiss morphed into an X by sloppey pennmanship.

    Reply
  52. Doomsday10_000 -  December 13, 2010 - 3:58 pm

    well everyone forgot about the x-men, the x-man cable, x-fator marvel comics professor x.

    Reply
  53. GenX1993 -  December 13, 2010 - 2:00 pm

    You all are correct about Malcom X for the most part. Essentially he dropped the surname “Little” to symbolize the lost of history, language, religious beliefs & culture that was lost when African were taken from Africa. He replaced it with the unknown X to symbolize the unknown. Cudos to Jack for catching and correcting his own mistake. McGillicuddy sounds very Irish to be & is an example of my point. You can trace religion back to a surname, language, history etc. Alot was lost which makes his point so powerful.

    Reply
  54. Luis -  December 13, 2010 - 1:49 pm

    so….XXX does not mean sex?

    Reply
  55. JcPinCT -  December 13, 2010 - 12:30 pm

    Then there is the use of ‘X’ in marketing to make a brand sound solid; such as changing Esso to Exxon.

    Reply
  56. ME -  November 21, 2010 - 7:44 am

    Back in olden times, people who could not sign their name would put an X. After “signing” their name, they would kiss it. That is how the X came to represent a kiss.

    Reply
  57. elle -  November 21, 2010 - 5:37 am

    i thought xo meant, respectively, hugs and kisses; since when you pucker, your lips make an ‘o’ shape and when you hug someone your arms cross into an ‘x’ shape?! but idk
    news to me!

    Reply
  58. Goofy_Charli -  November 19, 2010 - 7:55 am

    X is the bane of my existence (it’s ironic that word has an x in it)! For one: finding X in maths, I despise maths! Two: try to spell a word in scrabble with an X, impossible! Three: try playing the alphabet game when you land on X and there are no taverns around selling XXXX beer and not an X-ray place for miles. Four: my sister has a serious issue with the word X-mas and would continually tell us every Christmas about it, great sis’ I know – you told me last year. Five: X means I got a question wrong on a test.

    Oh I could go on…I suppose there are some pros – like X marks the spot – but X wasn’t copping much flak on here so I thought it deserved just a little.

    By the way: Nicolas WithoutanH, love your argument but *stifles a giggle* I have to agree with Ferret, perhaps a different word – one without an x in it – might have proven your point. :)

    On another note, just throwing it out there, C is a really useless letter isn’t it? I mean really, it could just be replaced in every situation by an S or a K. And why do we need to write CK at the end of words when just K would save us time? Plus, then there would be 25 letters and 25 is a much more pleasing number than 26.

    Reply
  59. Curly -  November 17, 2010 - 4:59 pm

    @11-12:

    The color would depend on the person. Letters do not have colors that only certain people can sense. A person with synesthesia might associate colors with letters, but that’s a disorder, not an ability to see something that’s not visible to most humans – so any color he sees would be all in his own head.

    Reply
  60. AdrianTheGoon -  November 17, 2010 - 9:02 am

    @Garrett_is_Smith thats so true. lol. add me, am not to bad at call of duty. my gamertag is ” xZurc ” . and anyone else who plays ps3 feel free to add me !

    Reply
  61. Titte B ooB -  November 16, 2010 - 6:07 pm

    Don’t know what happened to my last post, but I guess I will reiterate what I had said before:

    jeff – The “Microsoft Xperience” was something that developed well after the launch of the original Xbox. The information provided in the blog is accurate. Where did you do YOUR research?

    Michael Dadona – Please take some english classes. I believe you are suggesting that the “X” in Xbox is commonly believed to stand for “eXtraordinary”, but your suggestion is the first I’ve ever heard of it. As stated above, the blog post is correct that the “X” is in reference to the DirectX API that the Xbox runs on.

    And to Nicolas WithoutanH – How could we live in a world without “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”

    Reply
  62. Sir Mike Tallon, PhD -  November 16, 2010 - 8:11 am

    Well, there are not a lot of words with “x” in them, so we’ve gotta find some way to put the letter to good use.

    Reply
  63. kekoa -  November 15, 2010 - 3:00 pm

    Correction: “X” is hug and “O” is kiss

    Reply
  64. Rassie -  November 14, 2010 - 5:06 pm

    What about “x” as Chemical X?
    powerpuff girls?
    did anybody get that?

    Reply
  65. Ferret -  November 13, 2010 - 8:52 pm

    smoothius: The X on a treasure map marks the place where treasure is, but I assume you already knew that. The reason it’s an X as opposed to a circle or some other type of marking is because an X is more accurate. Other markings cover more surface area, and therefore more area to dig through to find treasure. But one would just have to find the place where the two lines cross to find where to dig. However, that’s just an assumption.

    ChinaBoy: The X in Malcolm X probably has something to do with X being a symbol of the unknown. If I recall correctly, he got rid of his original last name, so the X could also have been a symbol of the lack of a last name.

    jeff: I hate to be so skeptical, but this article seems to be more researched. Where did you hear that?

    Nicolas WithoutanH: Don’t you mean “Le-icon”? (Sorry, that was meant to be a joke ;) )

    Reply
  66. Nicolas WithoutanH -  November 12, 2010 - 4:01 pm

    Hello. I just wanted to Say that I Find the X very offensive to this modern day soceity because of the regards to the Advances to Terrible Things Associated with this letter.

    If it were to me to change things for better, I would Definitely Remove this letter from the modern day Lexicon.

    Reply
  67. Eh-dee-Q -  November 12, 2010 - 3:04 pm

    I smile at these facts!
    X- as in unknown
    X- as in no longer my ________. as in: x-wife, x-boss, etc.
    X is also used in an abbreviation for “but, why”/”por/que” as Xq, so in this case ‘X’ would mean ‘but’.

    Reply
  68. Michael Dadona -  November 12, 2010 - 2:23 pm

    A good learning curve for today from your shared article about the meaning of X related to XBox. Normally, X understood as “Extra Ordinary”. This is the beauty of being an inventor, where any new term used for sure it relates the history of its creation property.

    Yeah! what else to say as this type of formation seems to each his own done by Microsoft. The same thing to DLNA sharing property between Microsoft Windows 7 and LG Optimus 7. DLNA is an acronym to Digital Living Network Alliance.

    Reply
  69. Terry Collmann -  November 12, 2010 - 2:17 pm

    In the same vein, XX on malt liquor stands for “double quality” and XXX stands for “strongest quality.” This designation dates back to 1827.

    No, while 1827 is the first cite in the Oxford English Dictionary for XX used for beer, X as a designator of beer strength is much older than that: in 1695 the Anchor brewery, Southwark, London was sending “15 Tunns of XX beer” to “Beerbadoes”.

    For more on X used by beer brewers, see here.

    Reply
  70. Gary -  November 12, 2010 - 2:01 pm

    X makes the spot on a treasure map goes back to “Treasure Island”, a book written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1883. He made it up…pirates didn’t actually use it as far as I know. :) He made up a lot of pirate lore people hold to be true today.

    Reply
  71. Maddy M. -  November 12, 2010 - 1:00 pm

    X is also sometimes used to recognize tongue clicking sounds, like the African Xhosa tribe.

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  72. smoothius -  November 12, 2010 - 12:36 pm

    @cyberquill clever… what a horrible vicious cycle that would be

    Reply
  73. pelaos -  November 12, 2010 - 12:34 pm

    Pretty interesting and entertaining.
    Loved the piece…

    Reply
  74. xoxoxo -  November 12, 2010 - 12:16 pm

    neato! but also… my last name starts with X :)

    Reply
  75. SumMary -  November 12, 2010 - 11:52 am

    EX-IT

    Reply
  76. smoothius -  November 12, 2010 - 11:46 am

    and dont forget the use of x to mean a kiss as in XOXOXO at the bottom of a love note

    Reply
  77. Carter -  November 12, 2010 - 11:34 am

    I believe Malcolm X says in his autobiography that he chose the name X because due to the slave trade his real surname was lost or unknown.

    Reply
  78. Saf -  November 12, 2010 - 10:57 am

    Wait, so you can’t be Gen-X if you never graduated from high school? Great… one more thing for them to be elitist about.

    ~Saf

    Reply
  79. jack -  November 12, 2010 - 10:40 am

    Sorry not Mcguillicudy it was “Little” what a strange mistake

    Reply
  80. seniorlastyear -  November 12, 2010 - 10:32 am

    Respect the X was our motto!

    Reply
  81. jack -  November 12, 2010 - 10:31 am

    I believe Malcom Mcguillicudy(not real spelling) changed his name to Malcolm X because he knew Mcgillicudy was his ancestors owners name when they were slaves. He decided his real name was lost when his ancestors were sold into slavery and therefore the X for unknown.

    Reply
  82. mark v -  November 12, 2010 - 9:46 am

    ((11-12 wrote: What color does x represents if letters have their own color to someone who can sense color of written scripture.))

    That is a personal perception. It’d be like asking “What color is your shirt” and expecting a single conclusive answer.

    Reply
  83. Garrett_is_Smith -  November 12, 2010 - 8:27 am

    Aww… XBox? It’s all about “CoD: Black Ops.” on the PS3! Maybe the blog team at Dictionary.com should do a posting about Sony. That would be far more interesting, in my opinion. Though, near all of the Hot Word Blog posts have been very interesting. A majority of the etymology posts would fall into this category.

    Reply
  84. Pasomi -  November 12, 2010 - 8:12 am

    I love such tidbits of info!

    Reply
  85. Carson Mell -  November 12, 2010 - 8:09 am

    I wonder if X didn’t come to be unknown through contracts and such being signed with an X when the signer had lost the ability to write.
    –C

    Reply
  86. receiveing fox being activated -  November 12, 2010 - 8:00 am

    xxx means to osculate three times, maybe to an inamorata by an uxiorious benedict;there are four words in here used in the flashcards test on romantic words.

    Reply
  87. eguaoje oje -  November 12, 2010 - 7:48 am

    Very educative.which I could get dis sort of info very often

    Reply
  88. Steve Ruis -  November 12, 2010 - 7:36 am

    Some of X’s cache came from the labeling of eXperimental aircraft (The Bell X-1 for example). This designation was fascinating to boys of all stripes and gave the X an exotic connotation.

    Reply
  89. S. Guru Bhaskara -  November 12, 2010 - 7:35 am

    I think that in the field of industrial innovation ‘X’ also implies that a product is in experimental stage, as in the case of aircraft, viz. Bell X1A.

    Reply
  90. Curtis -  November 12, 2010 - 7:27 am

    Xtraordinarily Xciting.

    Reply
  91. jeff -  November 12, 2010 - 7:23 am

    thats a bunch of nonsense. where did you do your research? the “X” in Xbox means Experience spelled Xperience.

    Reply
  92. ChinaBoy -  November 12, 2010 - 7:21 am

    Then there’s XO, the executive officer of a warship. And the XO sauce of the Chinese, a spicy sauce often with some rare and pricey ingredients. And Xmas, of course.
    By the way, what does the X in Malcolm X stand for?

    Reply
  93. John -  November 12, 2010 - 7:01 am

    X has long represented the unknown, the blank waiting for a solution, in mathematics. Then there was the SciFi connotation of “Planet X”. It’s a geek thing.

    Reply
  94. smoothius -  November 12, 2010 - 6:46 am

    what about x marks the spot as on a treasure map, maybe older than descartes or perhaps a modern familiarity, i dunno?

    Reply
  95. Carly -  November 12, 2010 - 6:44 am

    I have wondered this before, thank you! Dictionary.com, you Are really good at this, this is one of my favorite entries in a long time! :-) keep it up!

    Reply
  96. Carly -  November 12, 2010 - 6:42 am

    whoa! that’s really cool!

    Reply
  97. The First Commenter -  November 12, 2010 - 5:51 am

    X is completely unnecessary as a letter, but it looks cool.

    Reply
  98. Rampaw -  November 12, 2010 - 5:16 am

    With all this talk of “X”, why did you neglect the most obvious–Xmas? Because it’s controversial? X is the Greek letter “Chi,” which is the first letter of the word Christos, or Christ. From the earliest times of church history, X has been the standard abbreviation for Christ. So, Xmas does not take Christ out of Christmas, it just abbreviates it.

    Reply
  99. Arop K P -  November 12, 2010 - 5:08 am

    Hi,

    I really like blog’s on abstract subjects.

    And I really liked it.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  100. louis paiz -  November 12, 2010 - 4:47 am

    letter x is a roman number that means 10 , it also represent extra sensorial extra cotrontrol so one x is 10 xx 20 xxx 30 ann so far i would like to learn more about this misteriuos letter. thanks

    Reply
  101. 11-12 -  November 12, 2010 - 1:41 am

    What color does x represents if letters have their own color to someone who can sense color of written scripture.

    Reply
  102. Cyberquill -  November 11, 2010 - 10:08 pm

    my x-girlfriend = my unknown girlfriend = my future girlfriend

    Reply
  103. RKinman -  November 11, 2010 - 9:08 pm

    On November 8, 1895 x-rays were discovered. We are celebrating, this week, 115 years of x-rays…yet another use of ‘x.’. Roentgen gave them the name x-rays because at the time, their origin was unknown.

    Reply

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