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See also: Abbreviation


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Alternative forms[edit]


First attested 1400–50. From Middle English abbreviacioun, from Middle French abreviation, from Ecclesiastical Latin abbreviātiō, from Latin ad + breviō (shorten), from brevis (short). Morphologically abbreviate +‎ -ion



abbreviation (countable and uncountable, plural abbreviations), used with for or of

  1. The result of shortening or reducing; abridgment. [First attested around 1350 to 1470.][1]
  2. (linguistics) A shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole, utilizing omission of letters, and sometimes substitution of letters, or duplication of initial letters to signify plurality, including signs such as +, =, @. [Late 16th century.][1]
    Hants is an abbreviation of Hampshire.
  3. The process of abbreviating. [Mid 16th century.][1]
  4. (music) A notation used in music score to denote a direction, as pp or mf.
  5. (music) One or more dashes through the stem of a note, dividing it respectively into quavers, semiquavers, demisemiquavers, or hemidemisemiquavers.
  6. Any convenient short form used as a substitution for an understood or inferred whole.
    • 1946-1947, President Truman's committee on Civil Rights
      The phrase "civil rights" is an abbreviation for a whole complex of relationships.
  7. (biology) Loss during evolution of the final stages of the ancestral ontogenetic pattern.
  8. (mathematics) Reduction to lower terms, as a fraction.




  • (linguistics): acronym (employing initial letters or syllables); clipping (omitting several letters); initialism (employing initial letters); symbol, sign (employing marks other than letters)

Derived terms[edit]


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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abbreviation”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 3.

Further reading[edit]