Alternative forms




First attested in 1494. From Middle English abrygement,[1] from Middle French abrégement.[2] Equivalent to abridge +‎ -ment.





abridgment (countable and uncountable, plural abridgments)

  1. (US) The act of abridging; reduction or deprivation [First attested from around (1350 to 1470).]
    Synonyms: diminution, lessening, shortening[2]
    an abridgment of pleasures or of expenses
  2. (US) The state of being abridged or lessened.
  3. (US) An epitome or compend, as of a book; a shortened or abridged form; an abbreviation. [First attested from around (1350 to 1470).][2]
    • 2012 March 22, Scott Tobias, “The Hunger Games”, in AV Club[1]:
      When the goal is simply to be as faithful as possible to the material—as if a movie were a marriage, and a rights contract the vow—the best result is a skillful abridgment, one that hits all the important marks without losing anything egregious.
  4. (obsolete) That which abridges or cuts short; hence, an entertainment that makes the time pass quickly
    • 1605, Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's Dream, V-i:
      What abridgment have you for this evening? What masque? what music?
  5. (dated, law) Any of various brief statements of case law made before modern reporting of legal cases.
  6. (law) The leaving out of certain portions of a plaintiff's demand, the writ still holding good for the remainder.

Usage notes

  • In current usage this spelling is about as common as abridgement in the US, but much less common in the UK.
  • Notes on near-synonyms:
    • An abridgment is made by omitting the less important parts of some larger work; as, an abridgment of a dictionary.
    • A compendium is a brief exhibition of a subject, or science, for common use; as, a compendium of American literature.
    • An epitome corresponds to a compendium, and gives briefly the most material points of a subject; as, an epitome of history.
    • An abstract is a brief statement of a thing in its main points.
    • A synopsis is a bird's-eye view of a subject, or work, in its several parts.



Derived terms



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  1. ^ Laurence Urdang (editor), The Random House College Dictionary (Random House, 1984 [1975], →ISBN), page 5
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief, William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abridgment”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 8.

Further reading