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The abbreviation DT can variously stand for delirium tremens, a symptom of alcohol withdrawal; double tap, a reference to liking someone’s post on Instagram; detective; the position of defensive tackle in football; or school detention.

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How is DT pronounced?

< dee-tee >

Delirium tremens, shortened to the DTs, was coined in 1813 to describe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, although its use later spread to other addictive substances, particularly opiates.

The expression delirium tremens is Latin. Delirium refers to the “madness” some experience in withdrawal, including hallucinations, and tremens refers to the “shaking” people get. The shortening of delirium tremens to DT or DTs occurred as early as 1861. 

By at least 1921, DT came to be used as a shorthand for detective. In the later half of the 20th century, DT was especially used to refer to members of drug offense squads.

DT on the social media platform is short for double tap. In the Instagram app, users can “like” a post by tapping it twice, hence DT. This abbreviation is often used as a hashtag, #dt, as a way to encourage others to like one’s post.

In American football, DT is an acronym for defensive tackle, often one of the strongest and biggest players on the team and whose job it is to break the offensive line. The position of defensive tackle has been abbreviated as DT since at least the 1960s.

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Panthers coach Ron Rivera said there is ‘'no level of concern'' for DT Kawann Short, who did not practice for the second straight day with a calf injury. Full injury report: https://t.co/kNDsGhnf6O pic.twitter.com/7OxTVBeKBc

— David Newton (
DNewtonespn) December 14, 2018

If you act up in class, you might get hit with a school DT, or detention, a tried-and-true tactic that schools the world over use to discipline students. In DT, usually held outside school hours, you might have to do extra schoolwork or, if you’re Bart from the Simpsons, write out lines on the chalkboard.