Re: spelling of disc (disk) in /devfs

From: Tor Arntsen (
Date: Fri Feb 02 2001 - 07:49:08 EST

Mike Harrold <> writes:
>My understanding (going back to the 80s) is that the correct term is
>disc. "disk" is short for diskette. (discette would be pronounced as
>"dissect" (think miscellaneous), so "diskette" was used instead.

No, this isn't right. "Disk" was used for hard disks. "Diskette" is
a word that came later (pretty obvious too, as it's a diminutive variant
of "disk"). Ditto for "floppy disk".

>So, when referring to a 3.5" or 5.25" floppy, "disk" would be correct
>since they are diskettes. However, a "hard drive" is very much a disc
>(or nowadays a group of discs). A "hard disc" would refer to one of
>the constituents of a "hard drive".

I don't want to sound too harsh, but the speculation in that paragraph
is really picked out of thin air.

In short, "disk" is a term that simply means a computer hard disk, as
opposed to other kind of discs. This is the only issue in non-English
native speaking countries, most of us didn't even know that the difference
originated in UK/US spelling issues. That never entered the discussion,
particularly here in Europe. We were thought the UK spelling for discs
(the generic term), and we quickly grabbed the "disk" term for computer
disks as a nice way of referring to that special kind of disc.

CDs are called 'discs' simply because they were not originally part of
the computer industry. They were for recording music.

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