It's not what you know or even who you know; it's what you're near (aka C is for Copy, that's good enough for me)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/02/13 10:01 -05:00, original URI:

Over in the Suggestion Box, Amie asked:

What exactly does Ctrl - V stand for and how did it come about.. besides the fact that the V is near X and C? What does the V stand for in the shortcut? Can someone help me figure this one out please?

Thank you!

-- Amie (:

And regular reader Jan Kučera responded (also in the Suggestion Box, where he had moments ago posted an unrelated question that I have not gotten to yet:

To Amie regarding Ctrl+V meaning:

... 'Paste' in Czech is 'Vložit' ...  so ... maybe? :-D


But I am inclined to doubt that the Czech language had much to do with it. :-)

As far as I can see, both CTRL+X and CTRL+V owe their ubiquitous assignments to their proximity to CTRL+C, which is a very sensible choice for the copy operation....

Sorry about that, Jan!


This post brought to you by C (U+0043, aka LATIN CAPITAL LETTER C)

Roland on 13 Feb 2008 10:11 AM:

Xut, Copy, Vaste ;-)

John Cowan on 13 Feb 2008 12:30 PM:

Not to mention Zundo, which is right there next to the others.

AFAIR, these conventions came from the Mac; Þe Olde Windows Way back in 3.1 was Shift+Ins for Paste, Ctrl+Ins for Copy, and Shift+Del for Cut.  Amusingly, both sets of conventions

Mike Dimmick on 13 Feb 2008 12:45 PM:

I've always used the aid that X looks like scissors, so Cut, C is the first letter of Copy, and V looks like inserting something between two other things, so Paste. Or at least I did to begin with, 15 years of using Windows since they were added in 3.1 has rather drilled them into my memory.

I could never remember the Ctrl/Shift+Ins/Del pairings from IBM Common User Access. Shamelessly stealing the Apple keybindings was a great idea ;)

And of course Z is the last letter of the alphabet (well, in English anyway) so is an appropriate key to go back to the last version.

Rick Schaut on 13 Feb 2008 1:14 PM:

Back in the old pen-and-paper days of editing documents, people marked the location of inserted text with a "V" in a slightly super-scripted position relative to the base line.  I suspect the Ctrl-V for Insert might well have had something to do with that practice.

andreas on 14 Feb 2008 1:07 AM:

Arie Roos on 14 Feb 2008 7:54 AM:

And most likely at the time of defining CTRL+V, CTRL+P was already in use for Print

Scott on 14 Feb 2008 9:18 PM:

Of course, when Microsoft borrowed the Macintosh keybindings for cut, copy, and paste, they didn't have a Command key, so they used the Control instead.  This leads to a very unfortunate conflict in terminal programs, where Ctrl-C means stop the current command.

Jan Kučera on 30 May 2008 4:19 PM:

I can't help myself, but still using the Shift+Delete, Ctrl+Insert and Shift+Insert... and I am 23! :) And I really really hope they will work forever, or at least as long as I will be using keyboard for input. ;-)

Do you use Ctrl+X,C,V? How does it happen that one migrates after so many years?

Phillip on 15 Oct 2011 4:49 PM:

verisimilitude  (an authentic copy)

Ulla on 3 Sep 2012 4:43 AM:

V stands for "verbatim". You Ctrl C it for "copy" and then what you copied is "verbatim" copied somewhere else when you hit "Ctrl V".

Michael S. Kaplan on 3 Sep 2012 11:38 AM:

That would be a massive backformation. :-)

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