I am wondering about the origins of the "X" in "UX" as an abbreviation for user experience.

Has UX become a standard abbreviation because the people in this field find the term amusing? My thinking is that a software user interface that uses shorthand abbreviations might not be considered to have a good user experience (at least, not at software companies where I have worked). Especially in this case, as the meaning of the X is unintuitive for anyone who has not encountered the term before (X could be taken to mean cross, a multiplication sign, the number ten, or even a syntactic wildcard).

The irony of using UX as an abbreviation for user experience must not be lost on user experience and usability experts. So has UX gained popularity because the specialists in this field have a sense of humour, and the term UX is ironic and amusing?

  • It's a nice theory, but 'X' is a common way to abbreviate any word beginning with *x... so it's likely due to common usage more than anything. As for concerns about people outside the world of UX, it's somewhat moot as the term is really a term solely used internally. All fields have their own jargon. This is one of ours. – DA01 Jun 25 '14 at 18:14
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    It's XTREME!! Not boring, like "UE" is. Ho hum. – Ken Mohnkern Jun 25 '14 at 21:01

Like @DA01 mentioned in their comment, is a common way to abbreviate any word beginning with *x.

That said, in this specific instance, Experience begins with Ex and the pronunciation of that is Eks, the same pronunciation as the letter X, which makes UX a perfect abbreviation for User Experience.

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It's not like we're special:

AX Analyst Executive

BX Base Exchange

CX Customer Experience

DX Direct Exchange

FX Foreign Exchange

GX Global Exchange

HX Heat Exchanger

IX International Exchange

LX Lower Extremity

MX Mail Exchange

NX No Execute

PX Post/Part Exchange

RX Recieve

SX Securities Exchange

TX Transmit

UX User Experience

VX Virtual Experience

WX Weather Information

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  • You've just made some of these up, surely! ;) (WX=Weather Information?) – JonW Jun 25 '14 at 21:38
  • I know that Hx is used as shorthand to denote "History" in emergency medicine. – Steve HHH Jun 25 '14 at 23:15
  • The x is very common in medical environments to denote the rest of a common word rather than a second word starting ex... Sx for Symptoms, Px for Prescription, Dx Diagnosis, Fx Family, etc. – Roger Attrill Jun 26 '14 at 6:50

Windows Xp was launched in the early zeros when UX was taking off.

The Xp stands for experience, and will have popularised the removal of the first 'e'

The UX term has tended to replace the earlier terms HCI and Usability

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