Sometimes the longer form "\$15 \; \text {V +ve}\$" is used, instead of the simpler form "\$+15\; \text V\$". And similarly, "\$15 \; \text {V -ve}\$" is sometimes used instead of "\$-15 \; \text V\$".

I have 3 questions about it:

  1. Historical: Who and when coined this longer form?
  2. On meaning: What do the letters “v”, “e”, and the whole pair “ve” mean? They are probably abbreviations, but of what?
  3. On usage: In which contexts is this longer form
    • common
    • at least acceptable
    • unacceptable?

1 Answer 1


It's the "ve" at the end of "positive" and "negative". To indicate that "+ve" should be read as "positive", not "plus", and likewise "negative" for "-ve", not "minus".

What you call the "longer form" is pretty unusual. I would avoid it unless you have specific cause to use the terms "15 volts positive" and "15 volts negative", instead of the usual situation of putting the positive/negative at the beginning.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ In 53 years in the industry I've never come across the "ve" notation. \$\endgroup\$
    – SteveSh
    Commented Jun 20 at 0:54
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @SteveSh I see it from time to time. It's more common as a scribal shorthand in handwritten notes than in typeset documents; a student's lecture notes might say "when V is +ve" when the professor said "when the voltage is positive". \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Commented Jun 20 at 0:57
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I use it. Maybe it's a Commonwealth thing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 20 at 4:40
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sounds like a question for History of Science and Mathematics ! \$\endgroup\$
    – AakashM
    Commented Jun 20 at 9:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This American was familiar with these abbreviations. Agree that they're informal. And pointless, since they take just as much space as "< 0" or "> 0" (and provides no option to avoid ambiguity between strict "> 0" vs inclusive "≥ 0") \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Jun 20 at 16:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.