What would be the equivalent acronym for Coordinated Universal Time?


The second part of my question is that if a German user was to see "UTC" on a German website, would they normally know what UTC is or would they expect to see it in a German language equivalent?

  • 2
    No translation needed. You don't see terms like "GPS" translated either. Oct 5, 2018 at 12:56
  • @RudyVelthuis Why would one need to translate *Globales Positionsbestimmungs-System" at all? Isn't it German anyway? (Joking of course.) Oct 7, 2018 at 8:35
  • @Christian: as we know, German is sometimes a little more verbose than English, so it would probably be GPBS in German. <g> And these days, most people pronounce it "tschie-pie-ess" anyway. Oct 7, 2018 at 9:40
  • Since you mention in a comment to an answer that you are not too worried about unfamiliarity of the concept to your user, it is valuable to look at the German Wikipedia article: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koordinierte_Weltzeit
    – Carsten S
    Oct 7, 2018 at 13:42

4 Answers 4


This abbreviation is international: Koordinierte Weltzeit (UTC)

Before the abbreviation was standardised, the abbreviation Coordinated Universal Time in the English language was CUT, whereas the French version Temps Universel Coordonné was TUC. However, the International Telecommunication Union and the International Astronomical Union were keen to establish a common abbreviation for all languages. In order not to prefer either of the two languages, the compromise UTC was chosen as the internationally uniform abbreviation, which is also arranged alphabetically in the other derivatives of Universal Time (such as UT1, UT2). Based on this definition, the C stands for coordinated (French coordonné) leap seconds.

The official abbreviation for Coordinated Universal Time is UTC. This abbreviation arose from a desire by the International Telecommunication Union and the International Astronomical Union to use the same abbreviation in all languages. English speakers originally proposed CUT (for "coordinated universal time"), while French speakers proposed TUC (for "temps universel coordonné"). The compromise that emerged was UTC, which conforms to the pattern for the abbreviations of the variants of Universal Time (UT0, UT1, UT2, UT1R, etc.).

Still, familiarity cannot be guaranteed if you care for German speakers. Those often have trouble to even recognise MEZ (CET). To aid understanding at the cost of precision and international agreements, you might just use Weltzeit (~GMT).

  • I would understand UTC and GMT (without being sure about whether there is a difference) but not Weltzeit.
    – Carsten S
    Oct 7, 2018 at 9:26

That depends a bit on your target audience you didn't mention:

Anyone familiar with computers, programming, and especially Unix, will know what UTC means, there is no need and no use to translate this universal abbreviation.

The computer layman (I would suspect both English or German-speaking) might, however, be confused and understand expressions like "Greenwich-Zeit" (even if it's not exactly the same thing) better. (My parents would definitely not get what UTC is supposed to mean)

  • Oh good point, the user of our product would be very tech savvy.
    – JGallardo
    Oct 5, 2018 at 17:47

UTC is an identifier never to be translated. That would only cause confusion. Other common time zone identifiers however, as

  • MEZ (Mitteleuropäische Zeit) – CET

  • MESZ (Mitteleuropäische Sommerzeit) — CEST

are traditionally used in their translated form.


I never heard anything else than „UTC“ and although I am an IT specialist and therefore UTC is common for me, I would think that, even for non IT people, it is still known as UTC.

I did some Google searches and did not find any German translation for UTC... there is another acronym that is used sometimes (incorrectly): it is GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), but that happens to be an english acronym as well...

  • I meet "UTC" often, but I never know what it is, i.e. how many hours I would have to subtract or to add to my real time (i.e. time measurement where I physically are). Still I am working with people from various time zones, and when communicating we just write "5 o'clock Bulgarian time" or "7 o'clock UK time" or whatever. Oct 7, 2018 at 14:39
  • Nevertheless, people outside the IT business will more likely understand "GMT" than "UTC" Oct 9, 2018 at 9:23

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