It's common knowledge that the word 'TeX' was inspired by the Greek word 'τεχ' pronounced "tech".

Just for satisfying my curiosity, anyone knows from where comes the letters 'La' in LaTeX?

  • 11
    Leslie Lamport :) – cmhughes Jul 20 '12 at 22:17
  • related: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/49/… – Count Zero Jul 20 '12 at 22:20
  • Welcome to TeX.SE. – Peter Grill Jul 20 '12 at 22:22
  • 2
    This might look obvious, especially to mother-tongue English speakers, but I think we should mention it anyway: the name is (also) a pun with the English word latex. – Federico Poloni Jan 23 '14 at 0:29
  • 1
    @FedericoPoloni I remember the first time that I googled beautiful latex in image search to find some good template. Probably I saw something relative to LaTeX at the 10th page. :) – gvgramazio Jun 24 '18 at 7:28

The word "LaTeX" is an abbreviation of "Lamport's TeX", named after Leslie Lamport. With LaTeX Lamport added a collection of macros to the original TeX program which was made by Donald Knuth.

| improve this answer | |
  • 18
    I've always heard so and, in fact, I've always consider this to be the origin of the "La", but I've never seen an official source in which this is documented (by Lamport himself preferably). Do you happen to have such a source? – Gonzalo Medina Jul 20 '12 at 22:27
  • 3
    Unfortunately, no. All I could find so far is an interview with Lamport by a German Mathematicians association (DMV) in which one question refers to that fact: research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/lamport/pubs/… – SFAB Jul 21 '12 at 6:50
  • I thought "La" simply means "larger", since "LaTeX" includes more macros than "TeX", hence "larger" Tex. – semibruin Oct 6 '16 at 7:10
  • 2
    IMO the recent edit to this answer was pointless and shouldn't have been approved; the original version was fine (and better). (But I won't rollback and add to the noise.) – ShreevatsaR Jun 24 '18 at 6:32

One possibility is that LA means (Logic of Actions) since that Lamport developed the Temporal Logic of Actions and the corresponding TLATex typeset system.


However it's a pity that Lamport himself does not satisfy our curiosity.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Later Additions-TeX :P – percusse Jan 22 '14 at 19:03
  • @zedobone i have a feeling that lamport himself isn't a terribly forthcoming person; in my time in this lab i've known a couple of people "working with" him, and indeed i've worked on a book which iirc had him listed as co-author. (once upon a time, we had m$ research as next-door neighbour of our lab, and i think i've worked at a desk this >> << close to his, but in different buildings.) – wasteofspace Jan 22 '14 at 20:27

@SFAB attributed that LaTeX is an abbreviation of "Lamport TeX" to an interview. However, after scanning the publication of the interview, I don't find this information. (Does I miss it?)

After some search, I failed to find any reliable source for the full phrase of LaTeX, just as @Gonzalo Medina mentioned in the comment.

I guess, just as Leslie Lamport refused to give the standard pronunciation of LaTeX[1], he also refused to give the correct full phrase of LaTeX.


[1] In Lamport's book LaTeX: A document Preparation System:

One of the hardest things about LaTeX is deciding how to pronounce it.This is also one of the few things I'm not going to tell you about LaTeX, since pronunciation is best determined by usage, not fiat.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.