This is a naming question, not so much about electrical engineering.

I keep forgetting/mixing up which is the n-type and which is the p-type semiconductor.

Usually the names act like mnemonic devices for us to more easily recall which object is associated with which label/word.

What does the n stand for?

What does the p stand for?

For example, I would name it h-type form hole-type instead of p-type to remove the confusion. But I'm assuming there is already a connection like this behind the use of p and n letters - i just don't know it.

Are this just arbitrary names/letters? (doesn't make much sense to be arbitrary)

What keeps you personally from mixing the 2.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ negative/positive. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eugene Sh.
    Jun 11, 2019 at 18:13
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Eugene Sh. oh crap, this must be the dumbest question ever :)) \$\endgroup\$
    – AIon
    Jun 11, 2019 at 18:15
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ For bipolar transistors, NPN = Not Pointing iN (the arrow on the emitter points away from the base, out of the symbol), PNP = Pointing iN (arrow points towards the base, into the symbol) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 11, 2019 at 19:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Nah, just an honest question with an easy answer! I've always been fond of this question, and am glad the user didn't remove it :) \$\endgroup\$
    – bitsmack
    Jun 12, 2019 at 6:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ PNP = pointing in proudly \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2019 at 6:15

1 Answer 1


The n stands for negatively doped, when you add more electrons to a semiconductor.
The p stands for positively doped, when you add less electrons or holes.

I know that electrons are negative, and holes are positive, that's how I remember.


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