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We have all seen the little symbols on electronic connectors that indicate its polarity. But is there a term for describing it other than something like positive inside, negative outside or negative tip, positive barrel/ring, and such?

Typical polarity diagram

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is for connectors, and you can say that the core is positive and the shield\coat is negative \$\endgroup\$
    – clabacchio
    May 25, 2012 at 18:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, that's what I meant, but again, I'm wondering if there is a short term instead of just spelling it all out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Synetech
    May 25, 2012 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why would you have to describe a connector symbol? You can say things like "hot in", eventually, but do you really need it? It's the majority of the cases \$\endgroup\$
    – clabacchio
    May 25, 2012 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand your question. If you need to tell someone the polarity of a connector, you can't always just send them a graphical diagram; using text is much faster and easier. \$\endgroup\$
    – Synetech
    May 26, 2012 at 4:27

4 Answers 4

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I've always heard (and referred to it) as "Center Positive", or "Center Negative".

The image you have in the OP is "Center Positive", as the center contact is, well, positive.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's what I usually hear too. \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2012 at 21:45
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Most frequently I see these described as "barrel negative" and "barrel positive". There isn't a requirement to describe the other terminal, as it is assumed that they are DC and the other terminal must be the opposite.

However, for technical documentation, I always see the symbol used as it avoids ambiguity.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That makes sense, but today I saw someone refer to the polarity in the diagram as just positive (indicating the inside as the important part). \$\endgroup\$
    – Synetech
    May 25, 2012 at 19:04
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IF there is a short term for this then it is not a commonly used term.

I certainly don't know of any (and I've been around the block a few times). Also, I did a quick poll of the other EE's here in my office an none of them have heard a term either.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's strange; I would have thought that it is common enough to have garnered a shorthand. \$\endgroup\$
    – Synetech
    May 25, 2012 at 19:05
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The common terms for the center and the outside are Tip and Barrel (or Sleeve). It is common to state whatever the Tip is and let deductive reasoning handle the rest. So either "Tip Positive" or "Tip Negative".

Why "tip" and not "center"? Because these are in the same category (Coaxial Connector) as "Phone Connectors". Tip is non-ambiguous in a stereo 3.5mm phone connector. Center can be confused with "ring".

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