- For Teachers
What unit of speed does the abbreviation K (or k?) stand for?
Here is the context:
-How fast does it go? (the jet ski)
-Oh, it goes pretty quick, mate.
-Knots, or what have you got on there?
-How many Ks are you getting?
-Oh, probably… Oh, it’s probably eighty K.
-Eighty K? Fifty knots. That’s good.
My guess was an obscure non-metric unit, since 80 km/h = 43 knots, not 50, but I suppose 50 is a rough conversion.
Also, the 'K' that appears at the beginning of 'kilometre' (derived from the Greek for 'thousand') is also used in computing, where it means a binary thousand (1024). In common parlance, people used 'K' to mean 'kilobytes' (1024 bytes, strictly 'Kb'), and then extended this usage to refer - colloquially - to a decimal thousand. So people now say they earn £40K (meaning 40,000 rather than [40 x 1024]!)
Here's the usage:
K, not k, stands for Kelvin, unit of temperature.
That's the correct usage, in SI terms. But this colloquial usage doesn't have a 'correct' written form. And given the choice between 'The speedo is in ks' and 'The speedo is in Ks' I think most transcribers would choose the latter.
As a matter of interest, this 'Ks' refers to a speed. I don't think I've ever heard that in the UK, except from the mouths of Australian cricket commentators.
In the UK, "K" as an abbreviation for kilometre, doesn't have the s; people refer to 'A 10K run'.