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See also: Abbreviation
For abbreviations in Wiktionary, see Category:Abbreviations by language


See also the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica's article on:
English Wikipedia has an article on:

Alternative forms[edit]


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



abbreviation (countable and uncountable, plural abbreviations)

  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]
  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.
    • (Can we date this quote by President Truman's committee on Civil Rights and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      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); initialism (employing initial letters); symbol, sign (employing marks other than letters)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


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