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What is the origin and reasoning for abbreviating "contract" as "K"?
December 14, 2007 9:08 PM   Subscribe

What is the origin and reasoning for abbreviating "contract" as "K"?
posted by JakeWalker to Law & Government (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm sure it has nothing to do with this Monty Python sketch (Travel Agent Sketch / "can't pronounce the letter C").
posted by JakeWalker at 9:10 PM on December 14, 2007


Not a concrete answer, but I know that lawyers love abbreviations. In my introductory law class, my professor insisted on using Pi to represent "Plaintiff," and something (probably D) for defendant. So "K" for "contract" is probably nothing but a (phonetic) abbreviation.

Granted, IANAL, and this is just an educated guess, not a solid answer.
posted by fogster at 9:17 PM on December 14, 2007


What is your suggestion? "A & B ex. C w/ C 3rd party ben?"

That doesn't make any sense.

"A & B ex. K w/ C 3rd party ben," though...
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 9:30 PM on December 14, 2007


Yeah, P's usually get the pi symbol, D's get the delta symbol. But these at least make sense.

I thought maybe the letter C was already taken with some other common abbreviation, but I can't figure out what.
posted by JakeWalker at 9:31 PM on December 14, 2007


K distinguishes it from Con Law in course abbreviations
posted by katemonster at 9:34 PM on December 14, 2007


On further consideration, I also think the initial letter (as in P and D) may be part of it. When I read in my notes a "C" I read "see". If I see a "K" I read "kay" -- which is closer to the initial consonant sound of contract.
posted by katemonster at 9:39 PM on December 14, 2007


Abbreviations are widely used in law school because they're helpful when you're trying to take notes as quickly as possible. "Contract" is a frequently used term, and its initial sound is a hard C, which is similar to a K; it's a fairly logical abbreviation as abbreviations go. The more often you refer to a word, the shorter its abbreviation tends to be; since I suspect "contract" is a pretty common word within the context of a class on contract law, it doesn't surprise me that it has earned a single-letter abbreviation.

I just asked someone who went to law school in the early 1970s and they vouched for it being in use at that time; I suspect it's probably much older, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:42 PM on December 14, 2007


When I went to law school, my dad sent me his notes from the early '60's. The pages all smelled like smoke, and on every page of his contracts notes, contract was abbreviated with K.

And this question, barely 9 minutes old, is the third result on google for "contract abbreviation law school". It may be unanswerable.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:52 PM on December 14, 2007


I don't know if this is related, but electrocardiographs are known as EKGs. Maybe it's just commonplace to abbreviate the hard C with K.
posted by brevator at 10:52 PM on December 14, 2007


So I took Contracts with Charles Fried, who has taught this subject for perhaps 200 years or so. This came up in conversation once, and his response was simple: "I have no idea, probably because it's a hard C." If there was anyone alive for when this abbreviation was decided (or contract law was written) it would have been him. My guess is that this is just that simple. Looking for a deeper reason might be futile. And without consideration. Oh God.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:19 AM on December 15, 2007


I think katemonster has got it; I read a single "C" as "see" and a "K" as "kay;" the latter sounds like the beginning of "contract."
posted by craven_morhead at 6:45 AM on December 15, 2007


retired lawyer here to say it comes from law school, the hard "c" at the beginning of "contract", etc. what i want to know is, why is the letter "k" used as an abbreviation for "strikeout" on baseball scorecards?
posted by bruce at 9:56 AM on December 15, 2007


why is the letter "k" used as an abbreviation for "strikeout" on baseball scorecards?
Because Henry Chadwick had already used 'S' for sacrifice.
posted by ewiar at 10:07 AM on December 15, 2007


I don't know if this is related, but electrocardiographs are known as EKGs. Maybe it's just commonplace to abbreviate the hard C with K.

EKG is an abbreviation for the German elektrokardiogramm. Same roots, and a similar pronunciation — it's just spelled according to the German rules and not the English ones.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:51 PM on December 15, 2007


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