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TJ's right about the O originally being a zero. As Ed states, HO was named for being roughly "Half of O scale" and G is for Garden scale since it often used outdoors. TT is for Table Top. Z scale was so-named because if was thought to be the smallest scale anyone could build a working model train, but then the even smaller T scale came along. I don't know the reason N scale was named that.

Bottom line is there's little science or consistency behind these names.
G is not for "Garden" Scale (although that is where many of the set-ups are). It stands for Grosse Bahn which means "Large Train" in Germany where it was first used.
 
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