Abbreviations: Definition and Meaning, What is Abbreviation?

Abbreviation Definition

1. The act or product of shortening.

2. A shortened form of a word or phrase used chiefly in writing to represent the complete form, such as Mass. for Massachusetts or USMC for United States Marine Corps.

1. a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase used in place of the whole

2. the process or result of abbreviating


1. a shortened form of a word or phrase used to represent the whole, as Dr. for Doctor, U.S. for United States, NW for Northwest, ab. for about, ft. for foot, or lb. for pound.

2. an act or result of abbreviating; reduction in length, duration, etc.; abridgment.

[1400–50; late Middle English (< Middle French) < Late Latin]

Noun1.abbreviation - a shortened form of a word or phrase

descriptor, form, signifier, word form - the phonological or orthographic sound or appearance of a word that can be used to describe or identify something; "the inflected forms of a word can be represented by a stem and a list of inflections to be attached"

apocope - abbreviation of a word by omitting the final sound or sounds; "the British get `pud' from `pudding' by apocope"

appro - an informal British abbreviation of approval; "he accepted it on appro"

2.abbreviation - shortening something by omitting parts of it

shortening - act of decreasing in length; "the dress needs shortening"


noun shortening, reduction, résumé, trimming, summary, contraction, compression, synopsis, précis, abridgment The postal abbreviation for Kansas is KS.



a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole, as Dr. for Doctor, U.S. for United States, lb. for pound.


an act of abbreviating; state or result of being abbreviated; reduction in length, duration, etc.; abridgment; summary: His abbreviation of his famous monograph, an enormous endeavor in itself, made an excellent introduction to the volume of collected essays of which he was the editor.


a short phrase or reduced form used to represent a larger, more complex idea, situation, set of beliefs, etc.: So-called “Freedom of speech” has become an abbreviation for a wealth of debate—and case law—about protesters' rights. The artist presented an abbreviation of line, plane, and curve; she creates breathtaking abstract representations of natural objects you expect to leap off the canvas and start dancing.


A shortened form of a word or phrase, such as Jan. for January.

In American English, many abbreviations are followed by a period (Dr., Ms.). In contrast, British usage generally favors omitting the period (or full stop) in abbreviations that include the first and last letters of a single word (Dr, Ms). When an abbreviation appears at the end of a sentence, a single period serves to both mark the abbreviation and close the sentence.


From the Latin, "short"

Examples and Observations:

  • "In general, spell out the names of government bureaus and agencies, well-known organizations, companies, etc., on first reference. In later references, use short forms like the agency or the company when possible because handfuls of initials make for mottled typography and choppy prose."
    (A. Siegal, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, 1999)
  • "Abbreviations may be ironic, humorous, or whimsical: for example, the rail link between the town of Bedford and the London station of St. Pancras is locally known as the Bedpan Line; a comparable link for Boston, New York, and Washington is the Bosnywash circuit. Comments on life may be telescoped into such sardonic packages as: BOGSAT a Bunch Of Guys Sitting Around a Table (making decisions about other people); GOMER Get Out of My Emergency Room (said by physicians to hypochondriacs); MMMBA Miles and Miles of Bloody Africa (an in-group term among people who have to travel those miles)."
    (Tom McArthur, The Oxford Companion to the English Language, 1992)
  • "It's a superstition that abbreviations shouldn't be used in serious writing and that it's good style to spell everything out. Nonsense: use abbreviations whenever they are customary and won't attract the attention of the reader."
    (Rudolf Flesch, The ABC of Style. Harper, 1964)
  • "And now we have the World Wide Web (the only thing I know of whose shortened form--www--takes three times longer to say than what it's short for)."
    (Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time. Crown, 2002)

Definition of ABBREVIATION


: the act or result of abbreviating : abridgment


: a shortened form of a written word or phrase used in place of the whole <amt is an abbreviation for amount>


“USA” is an abbreviation of “United States of America.”

First Known Use of ABBREVIATION

15th century



    abridgment, bowdlerization, condensation, digest

Related Words

    abstract, aperçu, brief, capsule, outline, overview, précis, recap, recapitulation, résumé (or resume also resumé), review, sketch, sum, summarization, summary, summation, survey, syllabus, synopsis, tabloid, wrap-up

Near Antonyms

    amplification, elaboration, enlargement, expansion


abomination, acceleration, accentuation, accommodation, accreditation, acculturation, accumulation, actualization, adjudication, administration...


noun   (Concise Encyclopedia)

Shortened form of a written word or phrase used in place of the whole. Abbreviations began to proliferate in the 19th century and have been prevalent since; they are employed to reduce the time required for writing or speaking, especially when referring to the myriad new organizations, bureaucratic entities, and technological products typical of industrial societies. An abbreviation can now easily become a word, either as an initialism in which the letters are pronounced individually (e.g., TV or FBI) or as an acronym in which the letters are combined into syllables (e.g., scuba, laser, or NAFTA).

The definition of an abbreviation is a shortened form of something.


An example of an abbreviation is PA, which is a shortened form of Pennsylvania.


  1. a making shorter
  2. the fact or state of being made shorter
  3. a shortened form of a word or phrase, as N.Y. for New York, Mr. for Mister, lb for pound, ctn for cotangent

abbreviate sentence examples

  • abbreviated syntax.
  • abbreviated so long as the abbreviation is not ambiguous.
  • abbreviated names such as Edw this could be Edward, Edwin, or Edwina.
  • abbreviated Latin on the left page, facing an English translation on the right page.
  • The number of letters that a child can hold in memory is called their visual attention span level (hereafter abbreviated to vas).
  • abbreviated according to index medicus.
  • abbreviated version of his novel of the previous year of the same name.
  • Devonshire House, commonly abbreviated to DH, is a large building used predominantly by the guild.
  • abbreviated in dselect as Req.
  • abbreviated structural formulae and skeletal formulae.
  • See leaflet for students produced by QAA so progress files contain both personal and academic records, sometimes abbreviated as pars.
  • abbreviated in this way, it does sound rather petty so please allow me to restate the context in which I made this remark.
  • abbreviated title will appear on the record for the session in question.
  • The name of a private company must end with the word limited usually abbreviated to Ltd.
  • abbreviated in this article as SP, SP I, or SP II.
  • abbreviated form of XSLT yes, there have.
  • The half-day sessions cover most of this material, in somewhat abbreviated form.
  • abbreviated accounts at companies house.
  • The world wide web is often abbreviated to the web or www.
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