PDF Meaning: Here’s What it Means and How to Use it?

If you’re confused about the meaning of PDF — you’re in the right place! Read on to uncover it’s definition, origin, and more.

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In today’s technology-obsessed society, you’ve likely heard of the term PDF before— but what exactly does it mean? Read on to learn more about this common and useful acronym.

What Does the Abbreviation PDF Stand For?

A commonly-used abbreviation that stands for Portable Document Format, PDF is defined as a computer file format for the transmission of a multimedia document that is not intended to be edited further, appearing unaltered in most computer environments.

In a different definition provided by Dictionary.com, PDF refers to a universal file format that makes it possible to display graphics and texts in the same fixed layout on any computer screen. To add to this definition, the Oxford English Dictionary says a PDF often looks like a printed document and can be viewed, shared, printed, and electronically transmitted. 

Based on these definitions, we can conclude that PDF can be defined as a versatile file format that gives users an easy, reliable way to exchange and present documents — regardless of the hardware, software, or operating systems being used by anyone who views the document. 

What Is the History of PDF?

From scanned documents to ebooks and forms to payslips, PDF is one of the most commonly used file types around the world — but where did it come from?

Created by Adobe’s co-founder John Warnock who launched the paper-to-digital revolution with an idea he dubbed “The Camelot Project,” PDF started off on the dream of a paperless office in 1991.  

The goal of this project was to give anyone the ability to capture documents from any application or device, send electronic versions of these documents anywhere, anytime, and view and print them on any machine. 

By 1992, the PDF was created by enhancing and merging two existing technologies — Adobe Illustrator and PostScript — and was released into the world on June 15th, 1993. 

In 2007, Adobe supplied its PDF format to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), who, in 2008, standardized the PDF format, enabling it to become an open electronic document format. 

How Can I Use PDF in a Sentece?

Not sure how to use PDF in a sentence? Worry not, as we’ve put together many examples to help you out below. Just remember — practice makes perfect. The more you practice using the term in a sentence, the easier it will become to use it as a part of your everyday vocabulary!

“She said it was a free PDF report.”

“I will make a PDF version of my book soon.”

“Like many docs on the web, the ebook is in PDF.”

“Convert your file to a PDF before sending it to the printer, please.”

“Hey, did you get that PDF document from the other day?”

“Did you know that most web browsers have plugins available for viewing PDF documents?”

“Everyone has a version of Adobe Reader on their PC that can read a PDF file.”

“I love the PDF format because I can integrate various types of content, such as text, images, and even vector graphics!”

“Can you please upload the brochures as a PDF under a different filename?”

“The great thing about adobe acrobat reader is that the PDF specification provides for encryption as well as digital signatures and file attachments.”

“Whatever platform you use, I am sure PDF will work.”

“When saving the PDF, simply hit the save as button in the doc.”

“Believe it or not, some apps, like Chrome, have their own built-in PDF printers.”

“In one of the adobe PDF files, there are missing hyperlinks.”

“If you save the PDF on your android, it will appear the same way in Windows, Mac, and iOS.”

Terms Related to PDF

By now, you should have a pretty good understanding of the word PDF. That said, if you’d like to further your knowledge, it can be helpful to discover terms that are commonly associated with the term. 

Below, we’ve compiled a list of terms that are closely related to PDF:

  • Application: Sometimes shortened to “app,” application is defined as computer software that performs a task or set of tasks, such as drawing or word processing.  
  • Browser: This is defined as a software program used to navigate the World Wide Web. Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox are today’s most popular browsers. 
  • Click: This refers to pressing and releasing the left mouse button to initiate an action or computer command.
  • Cookie: This is a text file sent by a Web server that is stored on the computer’s hard drive and relays back to the Web server info about the user, their PC, and their online activities and preferences. Although annoying at times, cookies are a normal part of using the Internet. 
  • CPU: CPU stands for Central Processing Unit and is essentially the brain of the computer. It is also called the “processor.”
  • Desktop Publishing: DTP for short, this is the production of publication-quality documents using a personal computer (PC) in combination with graphics, text, and page layout programs. 


So, what does PDF mean, you ask?

PDF stands for the Portable Document Format and is used to display docs in an electronic form independent of the hardware, software, or operating system they are viewed on. It is a universal file format that was developed by Adobe in the 1990s and is used today by millions, across multiple industries and in every part of the world.

Whether you have Windows, MacOS, or some other software application, you can use PDF with ease. From viewing, editing, and signing, to sharing, scanning, and printing, this revolutionary format simply makes life… simpler


  1. Pdf Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com
  2. PDF Definition | Lexico Dictionary
  3. Glossary of PDF Terminology | Aqua Forest