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What is the correct pronunciation of the directory /etc? Or, if there isn't a definitively "correct" way to say it, what is the most widely used pronunciation?

I usually say the letter names spelled out: "ee-tee-see", but am acutely aware that a lot of other folks call it "et-see" (to rhyme with Betsy).


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Do they know what "etc" stands for? I always feel like I'm illiterate when spelling it out. Probably leftover from an old school trauma. – Bart Silverstrim Apr 30 '10 at 11:16
Unless one of us has talked to everyone else on the planet it's kind of unlikely that any of use could possibly know what the most common pronunciation is. Besides, what difference does it make? – John Gardeniers Apr 30 '10 at 11:45
@John: You only need to talk to a statistically significant number of knowledgeable people to know what's common. A large enough sample size should get a reasonably small statistical error, no? It doesn't really make any difference. It's just a matter of fun trivia. – Dan Moulding Apr 30 '10 at 14:14
+1 reopen vote. This is an interesting question, do we need to be so strict about the rules? – Doug Luxem Apr 30 '10 at 16:11
@Doug, yes we do need to be pretty strict about the rules. Already this question has resulted in the very kind of argumentative comments that we're trying to avoid. The question itself should, at the very least, have been community wiki. – John Gardeniers May 1 '10 at 0:35

Slash ee tee cee but there's no real "correct" way. I remember the first time I spoke to an American about "cash" on a content router, got very confused and then realized he meant "cache"

it's just cultural!

Please be more specific regarding "cash" vs. "cache" because they're pronounced the same as far as I know. – Dennis Williamson Apr 30 '10 at 12:53
Some people pronounce "cache" similar to "catch". Regarding the question itself, I always just spell it out. I visibly wince when someone pronounces it "etsy" (like Betsy). – afrazier Apr 30 '10 at 13:29
I say it out as etcetera, but often find myself in practice saying slash ee tee cee, mainly because I think I end up explaining to others three times what I mean because they can't figure out etcetera IS etc. It's like dealing with educated people who can't figure out the difference between LOSE and LOOSE. @#%!! – Bart Silverstrim Apr 30 '10 at 14:41
@Farseeker: You must be from Australia :) [from what I can tell it's pronounced "cash" everywhere but Australia (and maybe NZ) -- even in France they say "cash", apparently] – Dan Moulding Apr 30 '10 at 15:42
@Dan, this is the very kind of comment that results from such subjective questions, which is why I voted to close it. – John Gardeniers Apr 30 '10 at 21:44

I've never heard anyone pronouncing it other than 'eee-tee-see'.

That's what I always say, but then I'm Russian... Ah, and you seem to be from not too far away? Must be some Slavic dialect :) – minaev May 4 '10 at 18:25
yup, croatian ;) But, i work with 10 different nationalities ranging from Newzealanders to Swedes, and none of them pronounces it differently. – Aleksandar Ivanisevic May 5 '10 at 5:38

I call it "et cetera" myself.

+1. I use the full pronunciation as well. – joeqwerty Apr 30 '10 at 11:08

Does no one else just call it "etts", as in the sound of the first syllable of "etcetera"?

+1, I do. Every now and then I throw out "ett-cee" if another person isn't picking up on my [mis-]pronunciation. – jscott Apr 30 '10 at 12:49

I've always said "etsee" even though "et cetera" is what I say for the Latin phrase.


Most people here are wrong. Go to the proper source and listen to the sound clip:

I was once told that the 'etc' directory didn't stand for 'et cetra' but rather 'Every Thing's Config'. O_o – jscott Apr 30 '10 at 13:26
That sounds like a folk backronym, and I hate those. – mfinni Apr 30 '10 at 14:21
Merriam nor Webster knew anything about /etc. – reinierpost Oct 12 '10 at 8:38
Just because it's created on a UNIX filesystem, @reinierpost, does not grant it unique grammatical properties. – Warner Oct 12 '10 at 13:19
It does, but pronunciation is not a grammatical property. – reinierpost Dec 7 '10 at 15:14

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