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Where does the “platy” common name come from?

Platies were originally put into the genus of Platypoecilus, which was abbreviated to "Platy". By the time platies were reclassified into the Xiphophorus genus, "platy" was commonly accepted as the common name for the species. That "platy" is easier to pronounce reliably that Xiphophorus (or abbreviations), helps maintain the "platy" name.