Abbreviation: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what an abbreviation is? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on abbreviations, including the definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What is an abbreviation?

According to Collins English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, an abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase, where instead of using the whole word, only a part is used for convenience.. This is not to be confused with an acronym like NATO, NASA, REM or LASER, which use the first letter of each word to form a new word or something that could use the last letters of a word. These are often used in British English and American English.

Many different languages also contain words that mean abbreviation. You may notice that some of these translations of abbreviation look and sound similar to one another. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases in different languages that likely have the same root or language of origin, causing them to sound the same. The below list of translations of abbreviation is provided by Word Sense

  •  Latin: abbreviātiō‎ (fem.)
  •  Russian: сокраще́ние‎ (neut.), аббревиату́ра‎ (fem.), аббревиа́ция‎ (fem.)
  •  West Frisian: ôfkoarting‎ (common)
  •  Ido: abreviuro‎
  •  Hebrew: ראשי תיבות‎
  •  Occitan: abreviacion‎ (fem.)
  •  Tagalog: pagdadaglat‎
  •  Korean: 생략‎, 약자‎
  •  Khmer: ពាក្យកាត់‎ (piek kat)
  •  Nynorsk: forkorting‎ (fem.)
  •  Azeri: abbreviatura‎
  •  Portuguese: abreviação‎ (fem.), abreviatura‎ (fem.)
  •  Luxembourgish: Ofkierzung‎ (fem.)
  •  Danish: forkortelse‎ (common)
  •  Spanish: abreviación‎ (fem.)
  •  Vietnamese: chữ viết tắt‎, từ viết tắt‎
  •  Belarusian: абрэвіяту́ра‎ (fem.)
  •  Crimean Tatar: qısqartma‎
  •  Asturian: abreviatura‎ (fem.)
  •  Norwegian: abbreviatur‎ (masc.)
  •  Roman: skraćenica‎ (fem.), abrevijacija‎ (fem.), kratica‎ (fem.)
  •  Ukrainian: абревіату́ра‎ (fem.)
  •  Turkish: kısaltma‎
  •  Cornish: berrheans‎
  •  Armenian: հապավում‎
  •  Irish: giorrúchán‎ (masc.), nod‎ (masc.)
  •  Dutch: afkorting‎ (fem.)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: giorrachadh‎ (masc.)
  •  Udmurt: вакчиятон‎
  •  Greek: συντομογραφία‎ (fem.), βραχυγραφία‎ (fem.), σύντμηση‎ (fem.), συντόμευση‎ (fem.)
  •  Slovak: skratka‎ (fem.)
  •  German: Abkürzung‎ (fem.), Kurzbezeichnung‎ (fem.), Kürzel‎ (neut.), Kurzform‎ (fem.), Abbreviation‎, Abbreviatur‎ (fem.)
  •  Japanese: 略語‎ (りゃくご, ryakugo), 略字‎ (ryakuji), 略‎ (ryaku)
  •  Slovene: kratica‎ (fem.), okrajšava‎ (fem.)
  •  Faroese: stytting‎ (fem.)
  •  Swedish: förkortning‎ (common)
  •  Hindi: संक्षिप्तीकरण‎
  •  Welsh: talfyriad‎ (masc.)
  •  Indonesian: singkatan‎, abreviasi‎
  •  Bokmål: forkortelse‎ (masc.), forkorting‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  Catalan: abreviatura‎ (fem.)
  •  Volapük: brefod‎
  •  Polish: skrót‎ (m-in)
  •  Bulgarian: абревиату́ра‎ (fem.)
  •  Finnish: lyhenne‎
  •  Malay: singkatan‎
  •  Hungarian: rövidítés‎
  •  Arabic: اِخْتِصَار‎ (masc.)
  •  Esperanto: mallongigo‎
  •  Mandarin: 縮寫‎, 缩写‎ (suōxiě), 簡寫‎, 简写‎ (jiǎnxiě), 略語‎, 略语‎ (lüèyǔ)
  •  Czech: zkratka‎ (fem.)
  •  French: abréviation‎ (fem.)
  •  Romanian: abreviere‎ (fem.), prescurtare‎ (fem.), abreviație‎ (fem.)
  •  Galician: abreviatura‎ (fem.)
  •  Maltese: abbrevjazzjoni‎
  •  Icelandic: skammstöfun‎ (fem.)
  •  Italian: abbreviazione‎ (fem.), abbreviatura‎ (fem.), acronimo‎ (masc.)
  •  Egyptian Arabic: اختصار‎
  •  Cyrillic: скраћеница‎ (fem.), абревијација‎ (fem.)

What are examples of abbreviations?

An abbreviation can be used in many different contexts in the English language. Trying to use a word or literary technique in a sentence is one of the best ways to memorize what it is, but you can also try making flashcards or quizzes that test your knowledge. Try using this term of the day in a sentence today! Below are a couple of examples of abbreviation that can help get you started incorporating this tool into your everyday use.  Take a look at these abbreviation examples from Your Dictionary and see how many you know! 

  •  M.PHIL or MPHIL – Master of Philosophy
  •  EVP – Executive Vice President
  •  Dr. – Drive
  •  Ln. – Lane
  •  FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation
  •  Cm – Centimeters
  •  FT – FaceTime
  •  USA – United States of America.
  •  Kg – Kilo grams
  •  ATM – Automated Teller Machine
  •  CA – California
  •  Mrs. – Mistress (pronounced Missus)
  •  B.Y.O.B. – bring your own bottle
  •  CMO – Chief Marketing Officer
  •  appt. – appointment
  •  tsp or t – teaspoon/teaspoons
  •  SE – southeast
  •  approx. – approximately
  •  c/o – care of, used when sending mail to someone who’s not at their usual address
  •  PA – Personal Assistant
  •  Ave. – Avenue
  •  NP – no problem
  •  CFO – Chief Financial Officer
  •  tel. – telephone
  •  CEO – Chief Executive Officer
  •  W – west
  •  E – east
  •  CCC – The Civilian Conservation Corps
  •  SSA – The Social Security Administration.
  •  apt. – apartment
  •  ROFL – rolling on the floor laughing
  •  AFK – away from keyboard
  •  vs. – versus
  •  LOL – laugh out loud
  •  NE – northeast
  •  E.T.A. – estimated time of arrival
  •  Blvd. – Boulevard
  •  MD – Managing Director
  •  BA – Bachelor of Arts
  •  NRA – The National Recovery Administration
  •  SVP – Senior Vice President
  •  lb – pound/pounds
  •  A.S.A.P. – as soon as possible
  •  temp. – temperature or temporary
  •  FDIC – The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
  •  BS – Bachelor of Science
  •  no. – number
  •  ACE – a cool experience
  •  VP – Vice President
  •  Mr. – Mister
  •  AAA – The Agricultural Adjustment Act
  •  FHA – The Federal Housing Administration
  •  BBC – British Broadcasting Company (United Kingdom)
  •  dept. – department
  •  JD – Juris Doctor
  •  ANI – age not important
  •  MA – Master of Arts
  •  CUL – see you later
  •  vet. – veteran or veterinarian
  •  BRB – be right back
  •  misc. – miscellaneous
  •  CWYL – chat with you later
  •  TY – thank you
  •  SW – southwest
  •  tbs, tbsp or T – tablespoon/tablespoons
  •  TX – Texas
  •  COVID – COVID-19/Coronavirus
  •  IQ – ignorance quotient
  •  AFAIK – as far as I know
  •  N – north
  •  NW – northwest
  •  D.I.Y. – Do it yourself
  •  min. – minute or minimum
  •  St. – Street
  •  pt – pint
  •  R.S.V.P. – Répondez, s’il vous plait
  •  CWA – The Civil Works Administration
  •  DC – Doctor of Chiropractic
  •  WC – wrong conversation
  •  PA – Pennsylvania
  •  NY – New York
  •  HR – Human Resources
  •  APA – American Psychological Association
  •  gal – gallon
  •  AD – awesome dude
  •  est. – established
  •  qt – quart
  •  Rd. – Road
  •  c – cup/cups
  •  S – south
  •  IIRC – if I recall/remember correctly
  •  Cyn. – Canyon

What are other literary techniques and devices?

There are many different grammatical and literary techniques and devices that you might see when you are reading poetry or prose. Knowing these devices is very important because they are always used in writing or speech for some purpose. Knowing these devices can help readers and listeners understand the speaker or author’s deeper meaning and why they are using such a device. Take a look at the below list of literary devices from Reedsy and see how many you know! Then try researching ones that are unfamiliar to you. 

  •  Foreshadowing
  •  Tone
  •  Alliteration
  •  Tragicomedy
  •  Archetype
  •  Anaphora
  •  Repetition
  •  Isocolon
  •  Euphemism
  •  Chiasmus
  •  Malapropism
  •  Symbolism
  •  Anthropomorphism
  •  Litotes
  •  Oxymoron
  •  Tautology
  •  Anastrophe
  •  In Medias Res
  •  Soliloquy
  •  Exposition
  •  Point of view
  •  Flashback
  •  Polysyndeton
  •  Juxtaposition
  •  Imagery
  •  Hypophora
  •  Metonymy
  •  Hyperbole
  •  Satire
  •  Colloquialism
  •  Zoomorphism
  •  Simile
  •  Allegory
  •  Personification
  •  Dramatic irony
  •  Anachronism
  •  Frame story
  •  Paradox
  •  Irony
  •  Metaphor
  •  Motif
  •  Cumulative sentence
  •  Tmesis
  •  Allusion
  •  Aphorism
  •  Onomatopoeia
  •  Synecdoche

Overall, the word abbreviation is a shortened form of a word.

Sources:

  1. 45+ Literary Devices and Terms Every Writer Should Know | Reedsy 
  2. List of Commonly Used Abbreviations | Your Dictionary 
  3. Abbreviation definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  4. abbreviation: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense