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I don't see any explanation of the name in the RFC, in the Wikipedia article on punycode, or elsewhere in my google searches, but maybe I didn't look hard enough.

Why is it called "punycode"? What's "puny" about it?

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I emailed Punycode RFC writer Adam M. Costello, and he replied by quoting an email of his from 2002:

It is “puny” in three senses: The repertoire of characters used in the encoded strings is small, the encoded strings are short, and the implementation is small.

I have a longer write-up about it here:

https://www.maxlaumeister.com/articles/why-is-it-called-punycode/

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