Reversed abbrevs for universities

The Universities of Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma use the abbreviations CU, KU, MU, NU and OU, respectively. Those abbrevs are the reverse of what you’d expect. Anyone know why they do this?

Must be an American thing. Here in Australia, we have UNSW (University of New South Wales), USYD (University of Sydney), UQ (University of Queensland) etc.

Most American universities have their abbreviations in the correct order too. AFAIK, those 5 are the only ones that reverse theirs.

There’s sometimes a difference between Colorado University and Univeristy of Colorado (to pick an example). The first would be CU and the second would be UC.

There is no Colorado University, AFAIK. The University of Colorado (at Boulder) uses the abbrev CU.

Only those 5? How about the University of Denver, which is known as DU?

Well, I did say AFIAK when talking about how many there were. That’s not a noise word but has real meaning. There may be others that I don’t know about as well.

So anyone know the answer to the OP?

I actually once asked a graduate of the University of Colorado why his T-shirt said “CU” instead of “UC.” All he said was, “You just won’t understand.”

The vast majority of American universities use abbreviations that follow the actual order of their full names.

When talking about the University of Nebraska, like their football team, “NU” is usually the abbreviation. In my experience this refers to the University of Nebraska - Lincoln campus. To clear up confusion locally, different abbreviations might be used for each campus: UNL (Lincoln), UNO (Omaha), and UNK (Kearney).

Perhaps Kansas is known as “KU” because Kentucky uses “UK.” Maybe it’s a midwestern thing.

Midwestern? Ohio University = OU, University of Michigan = UM, etc.

Maybe it’s a Great Plains thing.

There are a lot of universities that end up with identical abbreviations. Why would Kansas cede UK to Kentucky’s exclusive use?

Well, it’s not a Great Plains thing. I go to OU (University of Oklahoma), and my friend goes to OSU (Oklahoma State University). Perhaps OU just sounds better than UO?

Speaking as a graduate of two universities who managed to spell their abbreviations correctly, that strikes me as a “hmmm… never noticed that before” response.

SNDU at H.


The schools in the (at the time) Big 8 – Univeristy of Colorado, University of Nebraska, University of Kansas, University of Missouri, University of Oklahoma, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, and Oklahoma State Univeristy, decided at one point to themselves as letter-U, ie, CU, NU, KU, MU, OU, ISU, KSU, OSU, but I don’t know the exact reason or date they made this decision (but I believe it was for some sort of continuity/marketing idea)

Thanks aktep. I’m glad someone knew. I was afraid I’d have to bump the question upstairs (to Cecil) to get the real answer.

Anyone have any more info on this, like when it happened? I’m going to assume that the case of University of Denver (DU) is a copycat thing and quietly ignore it.

For anothe datum, Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts changed its name on July 4, 1959, to Iowa State University of Science and Technology. As far as I know, we’ve been ISU since then.

For another datum, Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts changed its name on July 4, 1959, to Iowa State University of Science and Technology. As far as I know, we’ve been ISU since then.

The University of Indiana is in Indiana, Pennsylvania. The one in Bloomington, Indiana is Indiana University.

No, the one in Pennsylvania is called the the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. There is no University of Indiana.

Miami University is in Oxford, Ohio. The University of Miami is in Coral Gables, Fla. The one in Ohio is about 150 years older than the one in Florida. (The Miami Indians lived in Ohio.)

One other little tidbit about the University of Kansas (KU) – seems the local paper can’t get it straight either, they insist on referring to the school as “Kansas University”, which drives a lot of folks around here crazy.