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


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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)


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 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 readingEdit