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An abbreviation (from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language ...
''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for example, the word ''abbreviation'' can itself be represented by the abbreviation ''abbr.'', ''abbrv.'', or ''abbrev.''; ''NPO'', for nil (or nothing) per (by) os (mouth) is an abbreviated medical instruction. It may also consist of initials only, a mixture of initials and words, or words or letters representing words in another language (for example, e.g., i.e. or
RSVP RSVP is an initialism derived from the French phrase ''Répondez s'il vous plaît'', meaning "Please respond" to require confirmation of an invitation. The initialism "RSVP" is no longer used much in France, where it is considered formal and a b ...
). Some types of abbreviations are
acronym An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase, usually using individual initial letters, as in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or EU (European Union), but sometimes using syllables, as in B ...
s (which are pronounceable),
initialism An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase, usually using individual initial letters, as in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or EU (European Union), but sometimes using syllables, as in B ...
s (using initials only), or grammatical contractions or
crasis Crasis (; from the Greek , "mixing", "blending"); cf. , "I mix" ''wine with water''; ''kratēr'' "mixing-bowl" is related. is a type of contraction in which two vowels or diphthongs merge into one new vowel or diphthong, making one word out of two ...
. An abbreviation is a shortening by any of these, or other, methods.


Different types of abbreviation

Acronyms, initialisms, contractions and crasis share some
semantic Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of meaning, reference, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct disciplines, including linguistics, philosophy and computer s ...
and
phonetic Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of sp ...
functions, and all four are connected by the term "abbreviation" in loose parlance. A contraction is a reduction of size by the drawing together of the parts; a contraction of a word or words is made by omitting certain letters or
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel) with optional initial and final margins (typically, consonants). Syllables are often considered the phonologic ...
s and bringing together the first and last letters or elements, such as "I'm" . Thus contractions are a
subset In mathematics, a set ''A'' is a subset of a set ''B'' if all elements of ''A'' are also elements of ''B''; ''B'' is then a superset of ''A''. It is possible for ''A'' and ''B'' to be equal; if they are unequal, then ''A'' is a proper subset of ...
of abbreviations.


History

Abbreviations have a long history, created so that spelling out a whole word could be avoided. This might be done to save time and space, and also to provide secrecy. In both
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed by Thessaloniki. Situated on th ...
and
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The territo ...
the reduction of words to single letters was common. In Roman inscriptions, "Words were commonly abbreviated by using the initial letter or letters of words, and most inscriptions have at least one abbreviation". However, "some could have more than one meaning, depending on their context. (For example, can be an abbreviation for many words, such as , , , , , , and .)" Abbreviations in English were frequently used from its earliest days. Manuscripts of copies of the
old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the mid-5th centur ...
poem ''
Beowulf ''Beowulf'' (; ang, Bēowulf ) is an Old English epic poem in the tradition of Germanic heroic legend consisting of 3,182 alliterative lines. It is one of the most important and most often translated works of Old English literature. The date ...

Beowulf
'' used many abbreviations, for example the
Tironian et Tironian notes ( la, notae Tironianae, links=no; or Tironian shorthand) is a system of shorthand invented by Tiro (who died in 4 BC), Marcus Tullius Cicero's slave and personal secretary and later a freedman. Tiro's system consisted of about 4,000 s ...
() or for ''and'', and for ''since'', so that "not much space is wasted". The standardisation of English in the 15th through 17th centuries included such a growth in the use of abbreviations.The End of Short Cuts: The use of abbreviated English by the fellows of Merton College, Oxford 1483-1660.
At first, abbreviations were sometimes represented with various suspension signs, not only periods. For example, sequences like ‹er› were replaced with ‹ɔ›, as in ‹mastɔ› for ''master'' and ‹exacɔbate› for ''exacerbate''. While this may seem trivial, it was symptomatic of an attempt by people manually reproducing academic texts to reduce the copy time. In the
Early Modern English Early Modern English or Early New English (sometimes abbreviated EModE, EMnE, or EME) is the stage of the English language from the beginning of the Tudor period to the English Interregnum and Restoration, or from the transition from Middle Engl ...
period, between the 15th and 17th centuries, the
thorn (letter) Thorn or þorn (Þ, þ) is a letter in the Old English, Gothic, Old Norse, Old Swedish, and modern Icelandic alphabets, as well as some dialects of Middle English. It was also used in medieval Scandinavia, but was later replaced with the digraph ' ...
was used for ''th'', as in ('the'). However, in modern times, was often misread and wrongly rewritten as , as in . During the growth of
philological Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics (with especially strong ties to etymology). Philology is more commonly defined as ...
linguistic theory in academic Britain, abbreviating became very fashionable. For example
J. R. R. Tolkien John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (; 3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist, and academic, best known as the author of the high fantasy works ''The Hobbit'' and ''The Lord of the Rings''. He served as the Rawl ...
, his friend
C. S. Lewis Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) was a British writer and lay theologian. He held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1925–1954) and Cambridge University (Magda ...
and other members of the
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, and northeast of Bristol. The city is home to the Univ ...

Oxford
literary group were known as the
Inklings The Inklings were an informal literary discussion group associated with J. R. R. Tolkien at the University of Oxford for nearly two decades between the early 1930s and late 1949. The Inklings were literary enthusiasts who praised the value of ...
. Likewise, a century earlier in
Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States and 21st most populous city in the country. The city proper covers with an estimated population of 692, ...
, a fad of abbreviation started that swept the United States, with the globally popular term OK generally credited as a remnant of its influence. Over the years, however, the lack of convention in some style guides has made it difficult to determine which two-word abbreviations should be abbreviated with periods and which should not. This question is considered below, Widespread use of electronic communication through mobile phones and the Internet during the 1990s allowed for a marked rise in colloquial abbreviation. This was due largely to increasing popularity of textual communication services such as instant- and text messaging. The original SMS, supported message lengths of 160 characters at most (using the GSM 03.38 character set), for instance. This brevity gave rise to an informal abbreviation scheme sometimes called Textese, with which 10% or more of the words in a typical SMS message are abbreviated. More recently Twitter, a popular
social networking service A social networking service (also social networking site or social media) is an online platform which people use to build social networks or social relationships with other people who share similar personal or career interests, activities, backg ...
, began driving abbreviation use with 140 character message limits.


Style conventions in English

In modern English, there are several conventions for abbreviations, and the choice may be confusing. The only rule universally accepted is that one should be ''consistent'', and to make this easier, publishers express their preferences in a
style guide A style guide or manual of style is a set of standards for the writing, formatting and design of documents. It is often called a style sheet, although that term also has other meanings. The standards can be applied either for general use, or be ...
. Questions which arise include those in the following subsections.


Lowercase letters

If the original word was capitalized then the first letter of its abbreviation should retain the capital, for example Lev. for ''Leviticus''. When a word is abbreviated to more than a single letter and was originally spelled with lower case letters then there is no need for capitalization. However, when abbreviating a phrase where only the first letter of each word is taken, then all letters should be capitalized, as in YTD for ''year-to-date'', PCB for ''printed circuit board'' and FYI for ''for your information''. However, see the following section regarding abbreviations that have become common vocabulary: these are no longer written with capital letters.


Periods (full stops) and spaces

A period (full stop) is often used to signify an abbreviation, but opinion is divided as to when and if this should happen. According to
Hart's Rules ''Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford''—today published under the short title ''New Hart's Rules''—is an authoritative reference book and style guide published in England by Oxford University Press (OUP). ...
, the traditional rule is that abbreviations (in the narrow sense that includes only words with the ending, and not the middle, dropped) terminate with a full stop, whereas contractions (in the sense of words missing a middle part) do not, but there are exceptions.
Fowler's Modern English Usage ''A Dictionary of Modern English Usage'' (1926), by Henry Watson Fowler (1858–1933), is a style guide to British English usage, pronunciation, and writing. Covering topics such as plurals and literary technique, distinctions among like words ( ...
says full stops are used to mark both abbreviations and contractions, but recommends against this practice: advising them only for abbreviations and lower-case initialisms and not for upper-case initialisms and contractions. In
American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American English is the most influential form of ...
, the period is usually included regardless of whether or not it is a contraction, e.g. ''Dr.'' or ''Mrs.''. In some cases, periods are optional, as in either ''US'' or ''U.S.'' for ''United States'', ''EU'' or ''E.U.'' for ''European Union'', and ''UN'' or ''U.N.'' for ''United Nations''. There are some house styles, however—American ones included—that remove the periods from almost all abbreviations. For example: * The U.S.
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices The ''Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways'' (usually referred to as the ''Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices'', abbreviated MUTCD) is a document issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of the Unit ...
advises that periods should not be used with abbreviations on road signs, except for cardinal directions as part of a destination name. (For example, ''"Northwest Blvd"'', ''"W. Jefferson"'', and ''"PED XING"'' all follow this recommendation.) *
AMA style ''AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors'' is the style guide of the American Medical Association. It is written by the editors of ''JAMA'' (''Journal of the American Medical Association'') and the JAMA Network journals and is most ...
, used in many
medical journalA medical journal is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that communicates medical information to physicians and other health professionals. Journals that cover many medical specialties are sometimes called general medical journals. History The first ...
s, uses no periods in abbreviations or acronyms, with almost no exceptions. Thus
eg#REDIRECT EG {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
, ie,
vs vs is often an abbreviation for versus. VS, vs, VS, and variants may also refer to: Arts and entertainment :''For people in arts and entertainment, see § People.'' Film and television * ''Vanilla Sky'', a 2001 film * ''Vs'' (film), a 2011 film ...
, et al.,
Dr#REDIRECT DR {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation {{R ambig ...
,
Mr ''Mister'', usually written in its abbreviated form ''Mr.'' (US) or ''Mr'' (UK), is a commonly used English honorific for men under the rank of knighthood. The title 'Mr' derived from earlier forms of ''master'', as the equivalent female titles '' ...
,
MRI Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields, magnetic field gradients, and radio waves to ...
, , and hundreds of others contain no periods. The only exceptions are (an abbreviation of Numero, Number) (to avoid the appearance of "No" ( ''yes'' and ''no''); initials within persons' names (such as "George R. Smith"); and "St." within persons' names when the person prefers it (such as "Emily R. St. Clair") (but not in city names such as ''St Louis'' or ''St Paul''). (AMA style also forgoes italic on terms long since naturalized into English from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language ...
,
New Latin New Latin (also called Neo-Latin or Modern Latin) is the revival of Latin used in original, scholarly, and scientific works since about 1500. Modern scholarly and technical nomenclature, such as in zoological and botanical taxonomy and internati ...
, other languages, or ISV; thus, no italic for
eg#REDIRECT EG {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
, ie,
vs vs is often an abbreviation for versus. VS, vs, VS, and variants may also refer to: Arts and entertainment :''For people in arts and entertainment, see § People.'' Film and television * ''Vanilla Sky'', a 2001 film * ''Vs'' (film), a 2011 film ...
, et al.,
in vivo#REDIRECT In vivo#REDIRECT In vivo {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
,
in vitro ''In vitro'' (meaning in glass, or ''in the glass'') studies are performed with microorganisms, cells, or biological molecules outside their normal biological context. Colloquially called "test-tube experiments", these studies in biology and it ...
, or
in situ ''In situ'' (; often not italicized in English) is a Latin phrase that translates literally to "on site" or "in position." It can mean "locally", "on site", "on the premises", or "in place" to describe where an event takes place and is used in m ...
.) Acronyms that were originally capitalized (with or without periods) but have since entered the vocabulary as generic words are no longer written with capital letters nor with any periods. Examples are
sonar Sonar (''so''und ''na''vigation and ''r''anging) is a technique that uses sound propagation (usually underwater, as in submarine navigation) to navigate, communicate with or detect objects on or under the surface of the water, such as other ves ...
,
radar Radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the range, angle, or velocity of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. A radar system cons ...
,
lidar#REDIRECT Lidar {{Redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation {{R from alternative name {{R from move {{R unprintworthy ...
,
laser A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radia ...

laser
,
snafu Snafu or SNAFU may refer to: Military * SNAFU ("Situation Normal: All Fucked/Fouled Up"), a slang expression of US military origin * Cpl Merriell "Snafu" Shelton (1922–1993), a US Marine Corps mortar-man portrayed (by Rami Malek) in ''The Pacif ...
, and scuba. Today, spaces are generally not used between single-letter abbreviations of words in the same phrase, so one almost never encounters "U. S." When an abbreviation appears at the end of a sentence, only one period is used: ''The capital of the United States is Washington, D.C''.


Plural forms

There is a question about how to pluralize abbreviations, particularly acronyms. Some writers tend to pluralize abbreviations by adding (apostrophe s), as in "two PC's have broken screens", although this notation typically indicates
possessive case A possessive or ktetic form (abbreviated ; from la, possessivus; grc, κτητικός ''ktētikós'') is a word or grammatical construction used to indicate a relationship of possession in a broad sense. This can include strict ownership, or a nu ...
. However, this style is not preferred by many style guides. For instance, Kate Turabian, writing about style in academic writings, allows for an apostrophe to form plural acronyms "only when an abbreviation contains internal periods or both capital and lowercase letters". Turabian would therefore prefer "DVDs" and "URLs" and "Ph.D.'s", while the
Modern Language Association The Modern Language Association of America, often referred to as the Modern Language Association (MLA), is the principal professional association in the United States for scholars of language and literature. The MLA aims to "strengthen the study ...
Modern Language Association (MLA) Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition 2009, subsection 3.2.7.g explicitly says, "do not use an apostrophe to form the plural of an abbreviation". Also, the
American Psychological Association The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States, with over 122,000 members, including scientists, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students. It has ...
specifically says,Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 5th Edition 2001, subsection 3.28''Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association'', 6th Edition 2010, subsection 4.29 "without an apostrophe". However, the 1999 style guide for ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''NYT'' or ''NY Times'') is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won 130 Pulitzer Prizes (the most of any newspaper), and has long be ...
'' states that the addition of an apostrophe is necessary when pluralizing all abbreviations, preferring "PC's, TV's and VCR's". Following those who would generally omit the apostrophe, to form the plural of
run batted in A run batted in (RBI; plural RBIs or RBI), is a statistic in baseball and softball that credits a batter for making a play that allows a run to be scored (except in certain situations such as when an error is made on the play). For example, if th ...
, simply add an s to the end of RBI. *RBIs For all other rules, see below: To form the plural of an abbreviation, a number, or a capital letter used as a noun, simply add a lowercase ''s'' to the end. Apostrophes following decades and single letters are also common. * A group of MPs * The roaring 20s * Mind your Ps and Qs To indicate the plural of the abbreviation or symbol of a unit of measure, the same form is used as in the singular. * 1 lb or 20 lb * 1 ft or 16 ft * 1 min or 45 min When an abbreviation contains more than one full point, ''Hart's Rules'' recommends putting the ''s'' after the final one. * Ph.D.s * M.Phil.s * the d.t.s However, subject to any house style or consistency requirement, the same plurals may be rendered less formally as: * PhDs * MPhils * the DTs. (This is the recommended form in the ''New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors''.) According to ''Hart's Rules'', an apostrophe may be used in rare cases where clarity calls for it, for example when letters or symbols are referred to as objects. * The x's of the equation * Dot the i's and cross the t's However, the apostrophe can be dispensed with if the items are set in italics or quotes: * The ''x''s of the equation * Dot the 'i's and cross the 't's In Latin, and continuing to the derivative forms in European languages as well as English, single-letter abbreviations had the plural being a doubling of the letter for note-taking. Most of these deal with writing and publishing. A few longer abbreviations use this as well.


Conventions followed by publications and newspapers


United States

Publications based in the U.S. tend to follow the style guides of ''
The Chicago Manual of Style ''The Chicago Manual of Style'' (abbreviated in writing as ''CMOS'' or ''CMS'', or sometimes as ''Chicago'') is a style guide for American English published since 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. Its 17 editions have prescribed writin ...
'' and the
Associated Press The Associated Press (AP) is an American non-profit news agency headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1846, it operates as a cooperative, unincorporated association. Its members are U.S. newspapers and broadcasters. AP news reports that it di ...
. The U.S. Government follows a style guide published by the U.S. Government Printing Office. The
National Institute of Standards and Technology The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a physical sciences laboratory and a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce. Its mission is to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness. NIST's acti ...
sets the style for abbreviations of units.


United Kingdom

Many British publications follow some of these guidelines in abbreviation: * For the sake of convenience, many British publications, including the
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of emplo ...

BBC
and ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gua ...

The Guardian
'', have completely done away with the use of full stops or periods in all abbreviations. These include: ** Social titles, e.g. Ms or Mr (though these would usually have not had full stops—see above) Capt, Prof, ''etc.;'' ** Two-letter abbreviations for countries (''"US"'', not ''"U.S."''); ** Abbreviations beyond three letters (full caps for all except initialisms); ** Words seldom abbreviated with lower case letters (''"PR"'', instead of ''"p.r."'', or ''"pr"'') ** Names (''"FW de Klerk"'', ''"GB Whiteley"'', ''"Park JS"''). A notable exception is ''
The Economist ''The Economist'' is an international weekly newspaper printed in magazine-format and published digitally that focuses on current affairs, international business, politics, and technology. Based in London, England, the newspaper is owned by The ...
'' which writes ''"Mr F. W. de Klerk"''. ** Scientific units (see Measurement below). * Acronyms are often referred to with only the first letter of the abbreviation capitalized. For instance, the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. The ...
can be abbreviated as ''"Nato"'' or ''"NATO"'', and
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory disease of zoonotic origin caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV-1), the first identified strain of the SARS coronavirus species ''severe acut ...
as ''"Sars"'' or ''"SARS"'' (compare with ''"
laser A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radia ...

laser
"'' which has made the full transition to an English word and is rarely capitalised at all). * Initialisms are always written in capitals; for example the ''"British Broadcasting Corporation"'' is abbreviated to ''"BBC"'', never ''"Bbc"''. An initialism is similar to acronym but is not pronounced as a word. * When abbreviating scientific units, no space is added between the number and unit (100mph, 100m, 10cm, 10°C). (This is contrary to the SI standard; see below.)


Miscellaneous and general rules

* A doubled letter appears in abbreviations of some Welsh names, as in
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
the double "l" is a separate sound: "Ll. George" for (British prime minister)
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a Welsh statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922. He was the final Liberal to hold the post of prime minister, ...

David Lloyd George
. * Some titles, such as "Reverend" and "Honourable", are spelt out when preceded by "the", rather than as "Rev." or "Hon." respectively. This is true for most British publications, and some in the United States. * A repeatedly used abbreviation should be spelt out for identification on its first occurrence in a written or spoken passage. Abbreviations likely to be unfamiliar to many readers should be avoided.


Measurements: abbreviations or symbols

Writers often use shorthand to denote units of measure. Such shorthand can be an abbreviation, such as "in" for "
inch Measuring tape with inches The inch (symbol: in or ″) is a unit of length in the (British) imperial and United States customary systems of measurement. It is equal to yard or of a foot. Derived from the Roman uncia ("twelfth"), the word ...
" or can be a symbol such as "km" for "
kilometre The kilometre (SI symbol: km; or ), spelt kilometer in American English, is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one thousand metres (kilo- being the SI prefix for ). It is now the measurement unit used for expressing distances betw ...
" (or kilometer). In the
International System of Units International is an adjective (also used as a noun) meaning "between nations". International may also refer to: Music Albums * ''International'' (Kevin Michael album), 2011 * ''International'' (New Order album), 2002 * ''International'' (The Three ...
(SI) manual the word "symbol" is used consistently to define the shorthand used to represent the various SI units of measure. The manual also defines the way in which units should be written, the principal rules being: *The conventions for upper and lower case letters must be observed—for example 1 MW (megawatts) is equal to 1,000,000
watt The watt (symbol: W) is a unit of power or radiant flux. In the International System of Units (SI), it is defined as a derived unit of (in SI base units) 1 kg⋅m2⋅s−3 or, equivalently, 1 joule per second. It is used to quantify the rate of ...
s and 1,000,000,000 mW (milliwatts). *No periods should be inserted between letters—for example "m.s" (which is an approximation of "m·s", which correctly uses
middle dot An interpunct, , also known as an interpoint, middle dot, middot and centered dot or centred dot, is a punctuation mark consisting of a vertically centered dot used for interword separation in ancient Latin script. (Word-separating spaces did not ...
) is the symbol for "metres multiplied by seconds", but "ms" is the symbol for milliseconds. *No periods should follow the symbol unless the syntax of the sentence demands otherwise (for example a full stop at the end of a sentence). *The singular and plural versions of the symbol are identical—not all languages use the letter "s" to denote a plural.


Syllabic abbreviation

A syllabic abbreviation is usually formed from the initial syllables of several words, such as ''
Interpol The International Criminal Police Organization (official abbreviation ICPO; french: link=no, Organisation internationale de police criminelle), commonly known as INTERPOL ( , ), is an international organization that facilitates worldwide poli ...
'' = ''International'' + ''police''. It is a variant of the acronym. Syllabic abbreviations are usually written using
lower case Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minuscule'') in the written representation of certain languag ...
, sometimes starting with a
capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercase (or more formally ''minuscule'') in the written representation of certain languag ...
, and are always pronounced as words rather than letter by letter. Syllabic abbreviations should be distinguished from
portmanteau A portmanteau (, ) or portmanteau word (from "portmanteau") is a blend of wordsTime_magazine.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="eferring to Time magazine">eferring to Time magazineand Kleenex), Renault's ''Ren ...
s, which combine two words without necessarily taking whole syllables from each.


By language


English

Syllabic abbreviations are not widely used in English. Some UK government ministries such as
Ofcom The Office of Communications ( cy, Y Swyddfa Gyfathrebiadau), commonly known as Ofcom, is the government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries of the United Kingdom. Ofcom ha ...
(''Office of Communications'') and
Oftelframeless, right The Office of Telecommunications (Oftel) (''the telecommunications regulator'') was a department in the United Kingdom government, under civil service control, charged with promoting competition and maintaining the interests of consum ...
(''Office of Telecommunications'') use this style. New York City has various neighborhoods named by syllabic abbreviation, such as
Tribeca Tribeca , originally written as TriBeCa, is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan in New York City. Its name is a syllabic abbreviation of "Triangle Below Canal Street". The "triangle", or more accurately, a quadrilateral, is bounded by Canal Street ...
(''Triangle below Canal Street'') and
SoHo SoHo, sometimes written Soho, is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan in New York City. Since the 20th century it has been the location of many artists' lofts and art galleries, and has also been known for its variety of shops ranging from trendy up ...
(''South of Houston Street''). This usage has spread into other American cities, giving
SoMa South of Market (or SoMa) is a neighborhood in San Francisco, California, situated just south of Market Street. It contains several sub-neighborhoods including South Beach, Yerba Buena, and Rincon Hill. SoMa is home to many of the city's museums ...

SoMa
, San Francisco (''South of Market'') and
LoDo, Denver LoDo (Lower Downtown) is an unofficial neighborhood in Denver, Colorado, and is one of the oldest places of settlement in the city. It is a mixed-use historic district, known for its nightlife, and serves as an example of success in urban reinvest ...
(''Lower Downtown''), amongst others. Chicago-based electric service provider
ComEd Commonwealth Edison, commonly known by syllabic abbreviation as ComEd, is the largest electric utility in Illinois, and the sole electric provider in Chicago and much of Northern Illinois. Its service territory stretches roughly from Iroquois Cou ...
is a syllabic abbreviation of (''Commonwealth) and Thomas (''Edison.) Partially syllabic abbreviations are preferred by the US Navy, as it increases readability amidst the large number of initialisms that would otherwise have to fit into the same acronyms. Hence '' DESRON 6'' is used (in the full capital form) to mean "Destroyer Squadron 6", while '' COMNAVAIRLANT'' would be "Commander, Naval Air Force (in the) Atlantic." A more recent syllabic abbreviation has emerged with the disease
COVID-19#REDIRECT COVID-19#REDIRECT COVID-19 {{Redirect category shell, {{R from miscapitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, {{R from miscapitalisation ...
''(COrona VIrus Disease 2019)'' caused by the
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the respiratory illness responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Colloquially known as simply the coronavirus, it was pre ...
virus (itself frequently abbreviated to
SARS-CoV-2 Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the respiratory illness responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Colloquially known as simply the coronavirus, it was pre ...

SARS-CoV-2
, mostly but not entirely an initialism).


German

Syllabic abbreviations were and are common in
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language * Germanic peoples * Ger ...
; much like acronyms in English, they have a distinctly modern connotation, although contrary to popular belief, many date back to before
1933 Events January * January – The London Underground diagram (designed by Harry Beck) is introduced to the public. * January 5 – Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins in San Francisco Bay. * January 11 – Sir Charles Kingsford ...
, if not the end of
the Great War World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously known as the Great War or "the war to end all wars", i ...
. ''Kriminalpolizei'', literally ''criminal police'' but idiomatically the
Criminal Investigation Department In the United Kingdom and many former British colonies, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is the generic name for the branch of a police force to which most plainclothes detectives belong. A force's CID is distinct from its Special Branch (th ...
of any German police force, begat ''KriPo'' (variously capitalised), and likewise ''Schutzpolizei'', the ''protection police'' or ''uniform department'', begat ''SchuPo''. Along the same lines, the Swiss Federal Railways' Transit Police—the ''Transportpolizei''—are abbreviated as the ''TraPo''. With the National Socialist German Workers' Party gaining power came a frenzy of government reorganisation, and with it a series of entirely new syllabic abbreviations. The single national police force amalgamated from the Schutzpolizeien of the various states became the ''Ordnungspolizei'' or ''order police''; the state KriPos together formed the ''Sicherheitspolizei'' or ''security police''; and there was also the ''Geheime Staatspolizei'' or ''secret state police''. The new order of the
German Democratic Republic German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language * Germanic peoples * Ger ...
in the east brought about a conscious
denazification Denazification (german: link=no, Entnazifizierung) was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of the Nazi ideology following the Second World War. It was carried out by removing th ...
, but also a repudiation of earlier turns of phrase in favour of neologisms such as ''
Stasi The Ministry for State Security (german: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, MfS () or State Security Service (, SSD), commonly known as the (),An abbreviation of . was the official state security service of the German Democratic Republic (East ...
'' for ''Staatssicherheit'' ("state security", the secret police) and ''VoPo'' for ''Volkspolizei''. The phrase ''politische Büro'', which may be rendered literally as ''office of politics'' or idiomatically as ''political party steering committee'', became Politbüro. Syllabic abbreviations are not only used in politics, however. Many business names, trademarks, and service marks from across Germany are created on the same pattern: for a few examples, there is
Aldi Aldi (stylized as ALDI) is the common brand of two German family-owned discount supermarket chains with over 10,000 stores in 20 countries and an estimated combined turnover of more than €50 billion. The chain was founded by brothers Karl and Th ...

Aldi
, from ''Theo Albrecht'', the name of its founder, followed by ''discount'';
Haribo Haribo ( ) is a German confectionery company founded by Hans Riegel Sr. It began in Kessenich, Bonn. The name "Haribo" is an acronym formed from Hans Riegel Bonn. The company created the first gummy candy in 1922 in the form of little gummy bears ...
, from ''Hans Riegl'', the name of its founder, followed by ''Bonn'', the town of its head office; and
Adidas Adidas AG (; stylized as adidas since 1949) is a German multinational corporation, founded and headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany, that designs and manufactures shoes, clothing and accessories. It is the largest sportswear manufacturer i ...
, from ''Adolf "Adi" Dassler'', the nickname of its founder followed by his surname.


Russian

Leninist organisations such as the ''
Comintern The Communist International (Comintern), also known as the Third International (1919–1943), was an international organization that advocated world communism. It was controlled by the Soviet Union. The Comintern resolved at its Second Congres ...
'' (''Communist International'') and ''
Komsomol , colorcode = red , logo = , founded = , dissolved = , headquarters = , succeeded by = Russian Communist Youth League , ideology = , mother party = Communist Party of the Soviet Union , i ...
'' (''Kommunisticheskii Soyuz Molodyozhi'', or "Communist youth union") used Russian language syllabic abbreviations. In the modern Russian language, words like ''Minoborony'' (from Ministerstvo oborony — Ministry of Defence) and ''Minobrnauki'' (from Ministerstvo obrazovaniya i nauki — Ministry of Education and Science) are still commonly used. Further afield in
Belarus , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Minsk , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = , languages2_type = Recognized minority language , languages2 = , ethnic_groups = , demonym = Belarusian , government_type = U ...
, there is ''Beltelecom'' (Belarus Telecommunication) and Belsat (Belarus Satellite).


Spanish

Syllabic abbreviations are common in
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...
; examples abound in organization names such as
Pemex#REDIRECT Pemex {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation {{R from alternative language, es, es {{R printworthy ...
for ''Petróleos Mexicanos'' ("Mexican Petroleums") or Fonafifo for ''Fondo Nacional de Financimiento Forestal'' (National Forestry Financing Fund).


Malay

In Southeast Asian languages, especially in
Malay languages The Malayic languages are a branch of the Malayo-Polynesian subgroup of the Austronesian language family. The most prominent member is Standard Malay, which is the national language of Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia; it further serves as basis for ...
, syllabic abbreviations are also common; examples include
Petronas Petroliam Nasional Berhad (National Petroleum Limited), commonly known as Petronas, is a Malaysian oil and gas company. Established in 1974 and wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia, the corporation is vested with the entire oil and gas r ...
(for ''Petroliam Nasional'', "National Petroleum"), its Indonesian equivalent
Pertamina PT Pertamina (stylized as PERTAMINA, formerly abbreviated from ''Perusahaan Pertambangan Minyak dan Gas Bumi Negara'', lit. 'State Oil and Natural Gas Mining Company') is an Indonesian state-owned oil and natural gas corporation based in Jakarta ...
(from its original name ''Perusahaan Pertambangan Minyak dan Gas Bumi Negara'', "State Oil and Natural Gas Mining Company"), and Kemenhub (from ''Kementerian Perhubungan'', "Ministry of Transportation")


CJK

East Asian languages whose writing systems use
Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''Hanzi'' (), are logograms developed for the writing of Chinese. They have been adapted to write other East-Asian languages, and remain a key component of the Japanese writing system where they are known ...
form abbreviations similarly by using key Chinese characters from a term or phrase. For example, in Japanese the term for the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of ...
, ''kokusai rengō'' (国際連合) is often abbreviated to ''kokuren'' (国連). (Such abbreviations are called ryakugo (略語) in Japanese; see also
Japanese abbreviated and contracted words Abbreviated and contracted words are a common feature of Japanese. Long words are often contracted into shorter forms, which then become the predominant forms. For example, the University of Tokyo, in Japanese becomes , and "remote control", , beco ...
). The syllabic abbreviation is frequently used for universities: for instance, ''Tōdai'' (東大) for ''Tōkyō daigaku'' (東京大学,
University of Tokyo , abbreviated as or UTokyo, is a public research university located in Bunkyō, Tokyo, Japan. Established in 1877, it was the first of the imperial universities. The university has ten faculties, 15 graduate schools and enrolls about 30,000 stu ...
) and is used similarly in Chinese: ''Běidà'' (北大) for ''Běijīng Dàxué'' (北京大学,
Peking University Peking University (Chinese: 北京大学, informally Beida 北大, PKU; lit. "Beijing University"), is a major research university in Beijing, China, and a member of the elite C9 League of Chinese universities. Peking University was established ...
). The English phrase " Gung ho" originated as a Chinese abbreviation.


See also


Lists

*
List of abbreviations used in medical prescriptions This is a list of abbreviations used in medical prescriptions, including hospital orders (the patient-directed part of which is referred to as sig codes). This list does not include abbreviations for pharmaceuticals or drug name suffixes such as CD, ...
* List of abbreviations in photography * List of acronyms * List of portmanteaus *
List of classical abbreviations The following list contains a selection from the Latin abbreviations that occur in the writings and inscriptions of the Romans. A *A. – ''Absolvo, Actum, Aedilis, Aes, Aedilis, Ager, Ago, Aio, Amicus, Annus, Antiquo, Auctor, Auditor, August ...
*
List of medieval abbreviationsExamples of sigla in use in the Middle Ages: A *ā—''annus'' or ''aut.'' *á—''aut''. *Ắ—''Antiphona''. *a'—''antiphona'' or ''autem''. *a.—''annus''. *A.—''Accursius'' or ''Albericus''. *A:—''Amen''. *ab.—''Abbas''. *abbāss ...
*
List of business and finance abbreviations This is a list of abbreviations used in a business of financial context. 0-9 *1H – 1st Half *24/7 - 24 hours a day, seven days a week *80/20 – for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes A *ADR - American Deposit ...
* The abbreviations used in the 1913 edition of Webster's dictionary


Synonyms etc.

*
Abbreviation (music) Abbreviations in music are of two kinds, namely, abbreviations of terms related to musical expression, and the true musical abbreviations by the help of which certain passages, chords, etc., may be notated in a shortened form, to the greater conveni ...
*
Clipping (morphology) In linguistics, clipping is the word formation process which consists in the reduction of a word to one of its parts (Marchand: 1969). Clipping is also known as "truncation" or "shortening". According to Marchand (1969), clippings are not coine ...
*
GramogramA gramogram or grammagram or letteral word is a letter or group of letters which can be pronounced to form one or more words, as in "CU" for "See you". They are a subset of rebuses, and are commonly used as abbreviations. They are commonly used as a ...
*
SMS language SMS language, textspeak, or texting language is the abbreviated language and slang commonly used with mobile phone text messaging, or other Internet-based communication such as email and instant messaging. Features of early mobile phone messaging ...
*
Numeronym A numeronym is a number-based word. Most commonly, a numeronym is a word where a number is used to form an abbreviation (albeit not an acronym or an initialism). Pronouncing the letters and numbers may sound similar to the full word: "K9" for "cani ...
*
Neologism A neologism (; from Greek νέο- ''néo-'', "new" and λόγος ''lógos'', "speech, utterance") is a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not yet been fully accepted ...
*
RAS syndrome "ATM machine" is a common example of RAS syndrome RAS syndrome (where "RAS" stands for "redundant acronym syndrome", making the phrase "RAS syndrome" homological) is the use of one or more of the words that make up an acronym (or other initialism) i ...
*
Unicode alias names and abbreviations In Unicode, characters can have a unique name. A character can also have one or more alias names. An alias name can be an abbreviation, a C0 or C1 control name, a correction, an alternate name or a figment. An alias too is unique over all names and ...


Notes


References


External links

* * {{Authority control