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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?
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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.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In 53 years in the industry I've never come across the "ve" notation. \$\endgroup\$
    – SteveSh
    Commented Jun 20 at 0:54
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    \$\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
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    \$\begingroup\$ I use it. Maybe it's a Commonwealth thing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 20 at 4:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sounds like a question for History of Science and Mathematics ! \$\endgroup\$
    – AakashM
    Commented Jun 20 at 9:06
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    \$\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

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