Definition of Abbreviation

Abbreviation – (Lat. brevis ‘short’) The everyday sense of this term has been refined in linguistics as part of the study of word-formation, distinguishing several ways in which words can be shortened.

In the broad sense of the word, the process and result of word formation in which the first letters or syllables of word groups are written and pronounced as words. Abbreviations can be categorized as follows:

Types of abbreviation

  • Initialisms or alphabetisms reflect the separate pronunciation of the initial letters of the constituent words (TV, COD);
  • acronyms are pronounced as single words (NATO, laser);
  • clipped forms or clippings are reductions of longer forms, usually removing the end of the word (ad from advertisement), but sometimes the beginning (plane), or both beginning and ending together (flu);
  • blends combine parts of two words (sitcom, motel).

Origin of word Abbreviation

1400-50; late Middle English abbreviacioun (< Middle French) < Late Latin abbreviātiōn – (stem of abbreviātiō).

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List of commonly used abbreviations from the Oxford English Dictionary