Does codec stand for compression or decompression?

I have also heard it stands for encoder/decoder.

Which is it? Maybe something entirely different.

I'm looking for a source better then Wikipedia.

1 Answer 1


One of the earliest articles in the IEEE database that uses the term, defines it as "coders and decoders."

However, newer material does not seem to be consistent. One of the Wikipedia page's sources (at the time a page author retrieved it) alludes to both encoder-decoder and compression-decompression. This book defines it as compression/decompression.

  • Considering video files were originally in raw(I'm believe so) "coders and decoders" makes more sense but I'm only using my superficial knowledge of film and computer science. You see films originally were not compressed and decompressed which therefore means it couldn't be used to stand for codec. Maybe.....
    – William
    Nov 17, 2017 at 2:33
  • 1
    The term originated in digital signal processing, not media technology. The first appearance of the term in the SMPTE Journal seems to be in 1972, well after the 1965 Bell Labs article. Nov 18, 2017 at 0:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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