Abbreviation for National: What is it and how is it used?

The word national is abbreviated in various ways across different types of text. This guide answers the frequently asked questions surrounding the word, its origin and how to use it appropriately in full form and in abbreviated form.

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The word national can be abbreviated as

  • Nat’l.
  • Natl.
  • Ntl.
  • Nat.
  • NTL

However, of the five options the first two, Nat’l. and Natl. are the most commonly used. The word national has been abbreviated using different types of abbreviations to form the five variations. Some English experts agree on the number of variations, while others don’t, so let’s take a look at all of them.

Nat’l. is a contraction of the word national. It omits the middle letters and instead introduces an apostrophe to replace them.

Nat. is a truncation meaning the abbreviation only uses the first part of the word.

Natl. and Ntl. are also contractions of the word only they don’t feature an apostrophe to represent the omitted letters.

NTL is an acronym meaning t’s formed from the letters of the word national. As a rule, acronyms only use capital letters and do not feature a period at the end of the abbreviation. This abbreviation is not the purest definition of an acronym, however it has been modified to embody the characteristics of one.

History of the word national

National is derived from the root word nation and it means belonging to a nation. The word nation originated from the Latin word nationem or natio which referred to origin, stock, race of people or tribe. The earliest use of the word was in c1300 from the old French “nacion.”

When put in context, the words nationem and nacion literally meant “born of” or “that which was born of.”

In Tamil history, they have had the words “Naadu”, “Natukaran” and “Naatu Nai” among others as part of their vocabulary since 500 BC. Naadu means country and it can also mean people of a country. Natukaran means citizen and Naatu Nai refers to the country dog.

Even the ancient rulers of Tamil Nadu were refered to by territory. For example, the Cholanadu were the “rulers who ruled the Chola territory/nation/people.” And Nadu was used in other south Indian languages like Kanada to mean land or area.

Although there is no debate that the word nation was derived from the Latin version “nationem”, the origin of the Latin word is thought to have come about from interactions with other civilizations that used the word to describe their territory and people.

The word national is an adjective that describes something or someone belonging to a specific country. The word represents anything that is shared or is common to a place with boundaries entitled to sovereignty.


English is the official language in Kenya but Swahili is the national language.

This sentence implies that while the English language is used widely in the country for official communication, the language that defines the citizens and territory of Kenya is Swahili.

Synonyms of national

  • State
  • Public
  • Interstate
  • Governmental (gov)
  • Civil
  • Nationwide
  • Communal
  • Native
  • Sovereign
  • Civic
  • Federal
  • Domestic
  • Inland
  • Vernacular

Antonyms for national

  • Local

When to use the abbreviations for national

These standard abbreviations are used in organizations names, especially on buildings or journal/newspapers to shorten the name because of space. For example, the National Daily newspaper can be referred to as the Nat’l. Daily when one is writing about it. Or, a building like the National archives may be referred to as the Natl. Archives.

However, there are instances where the word national cannot be abbreviated. When national is already part of an acronym it can’t be further abbreviated. For example, in the United States, the National Football League is known as the NFL and so the word national is part of an acronym. Another example is the acronym NASA which reads National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

How to use the abbreviations for national

National is generally considered an official word because it denotes territory and sovereignty like the National Air Force or NASA. So using its abbreviations can come across as informal, which may impact the mood and impact of a text. But they can be necessary, even in formal texts, to shorten the overall text and deliver the message.

To use these abbreviations one must adhere to the following rules.

1.The first time you use the abbreviation, introduce it together with the full form of the word national so that the reader can make a connection of the two.


“We are looking at our national (nat’l.) debt deficit for this fiscal year and waiting for recommendations from the national institute of finance based at the national center.”

Now every time the reader comes across the abbreviation, nat’l, they’ll know exactly what it stands for. This is especially important when you are using the acronym variation (NTL)

  1. Remember to put a period at the end of the abbreviation to signify that it is one.
  2. Stick to one version of the abbreviation and use it sparingly. The more abbreviations you use in a text the more casual it reads and appears, even standard abbreviations.
  3. Consider the audience. Some abbreviations in British English may require no period after them but in American English they have a period at the end. Such nuances allow the writer to make it a bit more formal. When you are in doubt about how conversant the audience is with the abbreviations, use the full form of the word only.
  4. When the abbreviations appear at the end of the sentence, place only one period at the end.

Examples of sentences using the word national and its common abbreviations

  1. He is the national chief financial adviser to the current government. He has a PhD in business administration and his job is to advice the administration on all national financial matters.
  2. I was reading the National Enquirer and came across you story. Of course, I didn’t believe it because you know the Enquirer has become a tabloid. They should just change their name to nat’l rag.
  3. I am staying indoors after the storm warning from the national weather service. And I have my phone on speed dial for the United States code for national disasters.
  4. Our national institute of foreign affairs is providing language courses for new diplomats. This is a directive for the states department.
  5. Our national character is being assassinated because of the conduct of a few individuals. So we have created a national association to counter these attacks.
  6. They broke out in their national anthem when they won the rugby sevens tournament.
  7. Go to this address and pick up the package “Nat’l. Freight Services, BLD 5 , Weston avenue.

An English teacher should help you find the right context for these common abbreviations.  Also, note: some words may contain the word national but when abbreviated the word is completely omitted. For example, the National Center for Disease Control.  When abbreviated the acronym becomes CDC. Does that nullify the word national in this sense? Of course not – it’s just a standard abbreviation commonly used in health administration.



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