Is there any long-form, if at all? Or is it just a tradition from the 80's?


3 Answers 3


I've heard

  • run commands
  • resource control
  • run control
  • runtime configuration

Personally, I'd go with run control, because ESR says so.


His footnote says:

 The ‘rc’ suffix goes back to Unix's grandparent, CTSS.
 It had a command-script feature called "runcom". Early
 Unixes used ‘rc’ for the name of the operating system's
 boot script, as a tribute to CTSS runcom.

Wikipedia chooses "run commands" as the default long-form, but admits that context should determine word choice.

 While not historically precise, rc may also be pronou-
 nced as "run control", because an rc file controls how
 a program runs. For instance, the editor Vim looks for
 and reads the contents of the .vimrc file to determine
 its initial configuration. The most sensible pronunci-
 ation depends on the function of the file: to start
 something up, or to control how something starts up.


  • ESR’s »runcom«, however, does not suggest »run control«, unless there is a rule for transoforming n to m that I don’t know about.
    – MPi
    Jan 27, 2011 at 8:19

According to this source -- http://kb.iu.edu/data/abdr.html -- it means "run commands"


This link gives an interesting explanation for few commands.

According to it rc stands for "runcom" which in turn stands for Run Commands.


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