What are 3.5 inch floppy disks called outside the US?

I guess this is pretty self-explanatory.

I mean I realize that most people here in the US just call them floppies now, since the 5 1/4" has gone the way of the dodo — but every now and then I still call them 3.5s. (As in 3.5 inches).

Since the rest of the world is still on the metric system and not yet converted to US measurements (ha, ha), what do non-US dopers call these things? Just floppies? Or 8.89 cms?

  • Peter Wiggen

The odd thing about computer technology terms is that the rest of the world seems to have adopted US spelling.

We call them disks, instead of discs; programs, instead of programmes; and we tend to use imperial measurements instead of metric.

At least, that’s how it used to be. I think it is still the same.

(It’s kind of annoying that I have to spell my HTML tags the US way, though)

We call them ‘three-and-a-half-inch-floppies’ (or just ‘floppy disks’ (the American spelling of disc has been adopted for most computer media (except CDs, for which the full name is usually written with the English spelling).

In the UK at least, although we are mostly metric officially, you can mention other systems without fear of a midnight visit from the secret weights and measures police.

I know that in Germany they are called “dreieinhalb Zoll Disketten”, which translates to “three and a half inch disks”. “Zoll” is an older measurement used before Germany went metric, which is roughly equivalent to an inch.

Here in the Netherlands, they are called “drie punt vijf inch floppys”, thus “three point five inch floppies”.

As you said, nowadays most people just call them floppy-disks or diskettes.

Back when there was still the probability of confusion, we’d call them three-and-a-half inch or five-and-a-quarter inch (in Danish: Tre-en-halv tomme or fem-en-kvart tomme) - or even, showing my age, eight-inch (Otte tommer). It’s just a name - if anyone had ever needed to use the figure for anything, it would have been converted to metric toot sweet.

In South Africa we call them stiffies because they’re stiff and not floppy like floppies :slight_smile:

I recall from a previous thread in this forum that the standard width of a floppy disk is actually 90mm. Electrical/computer engineers, even in the USA, have long been using SI/metric measurements in their designs, while most American consumers continue to describe their hardware dimensions in more familiar units.

And if you said you were going to stuff a stiffie in a computer in the US, people would look at you funny.

Or offer you lube.

The convention in America is optical media = disc (compact disc, laser disc), magnetic media = disk (floppy disk, hard disk).

Excuse me… Bwaaaa HA HA HAHAHA HAHAHHAH :snort: MMmmhheheeheheheee HAHAHA!
Best. Technospeak.Ever.

I shall make it my life’s ambition to circulate this terminology as widely as possible in the US. By Christmas, God willing, that’ll be what we call 'em too!

I think that’s more or less the case here, but I don’t think it is necessarily observed formally here.

Hm. I’ve always spelled it “disc”, since I was a kid (before floppy discs, CDs or DVDs). Of course I noticed that many people spell disc “disk”; but I thought that it was just an alternate spelling.

So you would go into a computer store and ask the salesperson if he had a stiffy?

In that case, I concur with Inigo Montoya


I remember in middle school, we used the terminology ‘floppy disk’ for the 5 1/4 inch variety and ‘flexi disk’ (short for flexible disk) for the 3 1/2 inch type.

Then, when the larger disks fell into disuse, the ‘floppy’ term came to refer to the 3 1/2s.



No really, I’ve not one used here for ages. Any file transfer is done via the network, small software releases go by e-mail large ones go by CD, and does anyone boot off floppies any more?

Peering round I can’t see any, not even being used as coasters.

The last time I used one I broke it up to use the actual floppy bit as a filter to watch a partial eclipse.

Argh! Not backwards say things I should…

I’ve not seen one used here for ages.

A royale with cheese?

C’mon, somebody had to say it.

The old terms were “floppies” for 8-inch disks, “mini-floppies” for 5.25-inch disks, and “micro-floppies” for 3.5.

Also, see http://info.astrian.net/jargon/terms/s/stiffy.html for info on the term “stiffy” and even “firmy.”

I now can’t help but feel a sense of loss over the decade or more of juvenile humor that could have been. Sigh.

“Obsolete”? :wink:

Actually, I remember an alternative naming convention from here in the US, circa '86: 5.25" floppies were called minidisks (to differentiate them from the 8" ones that no one remembers) and the 3.5" variety were called microdisks. Come to think of it, I believe it was Sony that tried to publicize that convention. Guess it didn’t exactly catch on.