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A shortened form of a word or phrase, such as Jan. for January.

In American English, many abbreviations are followed by a period (Dr., Ms.). In contrast, British usage generally favors omitting the period (or full stop) in abbreviations that include the first and last letters of a single word (Dr, Ms). When an abbreviation appears at the end of a sentence, a single period serves to both mark the abbreviation and close the sentence.

See also:


From the Latin, "short"

Examples and Observations:

  • "In general, spell out the names of government bureaus and agencies, well-known organizations, companies, etc., on first reference. In later references, use short forms like the agency or the company when possible because handfuls of initials make for mottled typography and choppy prose."
    (A. Siegal, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, 1999)

  • "Abbreviations may be ironic, humorous, or whimsical: for example, the rail link between the town of Bedford and the London station of St. Pancras is locally known as the Bedpan Line; a comparable link for Boston, New York, and Washington is the Bosnywash circuit. Comments on life may be telescoped into such sardonic packages as: BOGSAT a Bunch Of Guys Sitting Around a Table (making decisions about other people); GOMER Get Out of My Emergency Room (said by physicians to hypochondriacs); MMMBA Miles and Miles of Bloody Africa (an in-group term among people who have to travel those miles); TGIF Thank God It's Friday (after a particularly hard working week)."
    (Tom McArthur, The Oxford Companion to the English Language, 1992)

  • "It's a superstition that abbreviations shouldn't be used in serious writing and that it's good style to spell everything out. Nonsense: use abbreviations whenever they are customary and won't attract the attention of the reader."
    (Rudolf Flesch, The ABC of Style. Harper, 1964)

  • The Lighter Side of Abbreviations
    Gus Guster: [Gus and Shawn are looking for a tall blond woman] Shawn, look. TBW.
    Shawn Spencer: Way to stay on the abbreviation train, Gus.
    Gus Guster: You mean the AT?
    (Dulé Hill and James Roday in Psych, 2007)

    "I will not use abbrev."
    (Bart Simpson)

    "And now we have the World Wide Web (the only thing I know of whose shortened form--www--takes three times longer to say than what it's short for)."
    (Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time. Crown, 2002)
Pronunciation: ah-BREE-vee-AY-shun
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