An abbreviation (from Latin brevis "short") is a shortened form of a word or phrase. Latin ( lingua Latīna, laˈtiːna is an Italic language, historically spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. A word is a unit of Language that carries meaning and consists of one or more Morphemes which are linked more or less tightly together and has a Phonetic In Grammar, a phrase is a group of Words that functions as a single unit in the Syntax of a sentence. Usually, but not always, it consists of a letter or group of letters taken from the word or phrase. For example, the word "abbreviation" can itself be represented by the abbreviation "abbr. " or "abbrev. "
Abbreviation has been used as long as phonetic script existed, in some senses actually being more common in early literacy, where spelling out a whole word was often avoided, initial letters commonly being used to represent words in specific application. By classical Greece and Rome, the reduction of words to single letters was still normal, but no longer the default.
An increase in literacy has, historically, sometimes spawned a trend toward abbreviation. The standardization of English in the 15th through 17th centuries included such a growth in the use of abbreviation. At first, abbreviations were sometimes represented with various suspension signs, not only periods. For example, specific phoneme sets like "er" were dropped from words and replaced with ɔ, like "mastɔ" instead of "master" or exacɔbate instead of "exacerbate". While this seems trivial, it was symptomatic of an attempt by people manually reproducing academic texts to reduce their copy time. An example from the Oxford university Register, 1503:
Mastɔ subwardenɔ y ɔmēde me to you. And wherɔ y wrot to you the last wyke that y trouyde itt good to differrɔ thelectionɔ ovɔ to quīdenaɔ tinitatis y have be thougħt me synɔ that itt woll be thenɔ a bowte mydsomɔ.
In the 1830 in the United States, starting with Boston, abbreviation became a fad. For example, during the growth of philological linguistic theory in academic Britain, abbreviating became very trendy. See Comparative linguistics for the narrower field of "comparative philology" The use of abbreviation for the names of "Father of modern etymology" J. R. R. Tolkien and his friend C. S. Lewis, and other members of Oxford literary group known as the Inklings, are sometimes cited as symptomatic of this. Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963 Oxford is currently bidding for the 2010 Wikimania Conference Oxford () is a city, and the County town of Oxfordshire, The Inklings was an informal literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford, England, for nearly two decades between the early Likewise, a century earlier in Boston, a fad of abbreviation started that swept the United States, with the globally popular term OK generally credited as a remnant of its influence. 
After World War II, the British greatly reduced their use of the full stop and other punctuations after abbreviations in at least semi-formal writing, while the Americans more readily kept its use until more recently, and still maintain it more than Britons. World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nations, including The classic example, considered by their American counterparts quite curious, was the maintenance of the internal comma in a British organization of secret agents called the "Special Operations, Executive" — "S. O. ,E" — which is not found in histories written after about 1960.
But before that, many Britons were more scrupulous at maintaining the French form. In French, the period only follows an abbreviation if the last letter in the abbreviation is not the last letter of its antecedent: "M. French ( français,) is a Romance language spoken around the world by 118 million people as a native language and by about 180 to 260 million people " is the abbreviation for "monsieur" while "Mme" is that for "madame". Like many other cross-channel linguistic acquisitions, many Britons readily took this up and followed this rule themselves, while the Americans took a simpler rule and applied it rigorously.
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. The U. S. media tend to abbreviate two-word abbreviations like United States (U. S. ), but not personal computer (PC) or television (TV). Many British publications have gradually done away with the use of periods in abbreviations completely.
Minimization of punctuation in typewritten matter became economically desirable in the 1960s and 1970s for the many users of carbon-film ribbons, since a period or comma consumed the same length of non-reusable expensive ribbon as did a capital letter.
Apart from the common form of word-contraction, there are other types of abbreviation. In Traditional grammar, a contraction is the formation of a new Word from one or more individual words These include acronym and initialism (including three-letter acronyms), apocope, clipping, elision, syncope, syllabic abbreviation, and portmanteau. Acronyms, initialisms, and alphabetisms are Abbreviations that are formed using the initial components in a phrase or name A three-letter acronym, three-letter abbreviation, or TLA is an Acronym, Abbreviation, Alphabetism or Initialism consisting In Phonetics, clipping is the process of shortening the Articulation of a phonetic segment, usually a Vowel. Elision is the omission of one or more sounds (such as a Vowel, a Consonant, or a whole Syllable) in a word or phrase producing a result that is easier For other uses of the word syncope, see Syncope (disambiguation In Phonology, syncope ( Greek syn- + kopein
A syllabic abbreviation (SA) is an abbreviation formed from (usually) initial syllables of several words, such as Interpol for International police, but should be distinguished from portmanteaux. In Linguistics, clipping is the Word formation process which consists in the reduction of a word to one of its parts (Marchand1969 A syllable ( Greek:) is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds A word is a unit of Language that carries meaning and consists of one or more Morphemes which are linked more or less tightly together and has a Phonetic The International Criminal Police Organization, better known by its telegraphic address Interpol is an organization facilitating international police cooperation They are usually written in lower case, sometimes starting with a capital letter, and are always pronounced as words rather than letter by letter. Lower case (also lower-case or lowercase) minuscule, or small letters are the smaller form of letters as opposed to upper Capital letters or majuscules pronunciation /məˈdʒʌskyuls ˈmædʒəˌskyuls/ in the Roman alphabet A, B, C, D,
Syllabic abbreviations are not widely used in English or French, but are common in certain languages, like German and Russian. English is a West Germanic language originating in England and is the First language for most people in the United Kingdom, the United States French ( français,) is a Romance language spoken around the world by 118 million people as a native language and by about 180 to 260 million people The German language (de ''Deutsch'') is a West Germanic language and one of the world's major languages. Russian ( transliteration:,) is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia, the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages
They prevailed in Germany under the Nazis and in the Soviet Union for naming the plethora of new bureaucratic organizations. Nazi Germany and the Third Reich are the common English names for Germany under the regime of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR was a constitutionally Socialist state that existed in Eurasia from 1922 to 1991 For example, Gestapo stands for Geheime Staats-Polizei, or "secret state police". The ( contraction of ge heime Sta ats' po' lizei: "Secret State Police" was the official Secret police of Nazi Germany This has given syllabic abbreviations a negative connotation, even though they were used in Germany before the Nazis, such as Schupo for Schutzpolizist. The Schutzpolizei ( Schupo) is a branch of the Landespolizei, the state police of Germany Even now Germans call part of their police Kripo for Kriminalpolizei. is the standard term for the criminal investigation agency within the Police forces of Germany, Austria and the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland Syllabic abbreviations were also typical of German language used in the German Democratic Republic, for example, Stasi for Staatssicherheit ("state security", the secret police and secret service) or Vopo for Volkspolizist ("people's policeman"). The German Democratic Republic ( GDR; Deutsche Demokratische Republik DDR; commonly known in English as East Germany) was a Socialist state For the regular police in East Germany see Volkspolizei. The Ministerium für Staatssicherheit ( Ministry for State Security
Some syllabic abbreviations from Russian that are familiar to English speakers include samizdat and kolkhoz. Russian ( transliteration:,) is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia, the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages Samizdat (самиздат was the clandestine copying and distribution of government-suppressed literature or other media in Soviet-bloc A kolkhoz () plural kolkhozy, was a form of Collective farming in the Soviet Union that existed along with state Farms ( Sovkhoz, The English names for the Soviet "Comintern" (Communist International) and "Milrevcom" (Military Revolution Committee) are further examples. The Comintern ( Com munist Intern ational also known as the Third International) was an international Communist organisation founded in Moscow Military Revolutionary Committee also known as the Milrevcom (Военно-революционный комитет военревком ВРК was the name for military
Orwell's novel 1984 uses fictional syllabic abbreviations like "Ingsoc" (English Socialism) to evoke the use of language under the Nazi and Soviet regimes. Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950 who used the Pseudonym George Orwell, was an English writer Nineteen Eighty-Four (also titled 1984) by George Orwell (the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair) is a 1949 English Novel
East Asian languages whose writing uses Chinese-originated ideograms instead of an alphabet form abbreviations similarly by using key characters from a term or phrase. An ideogram or ideograph (from Greek idea "idea" + grafo "to write" is a Graphic symbol that represents an Idea A Chinese character, also known as a Han character ( is a Logogram used in writing Chinese (hanzi Japanese ( For example, in Japanese the term for the United Nations, kokusai rengō (国際連合) is often abbreviated to kokuren (国連). is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities The United Nations ( UN) is an International organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in International law, International security Such abbreviations are called ryakugo (略語) in Japanese. SAs are frequently used for names of universities: for instance, Beida (北大, Běidà) for Peking University (Beijing), Yondae (연대) for the Yonsei University, Seouldae (서울대) for the Seoul National University and Tōdai (東大) for the University of Tokyo. Peking University ( of Beijing, colloquially known in Chinese as Beida (北大 Běidà) is the first formally established university and the first Seoul National University ( SNU) is a national Research university in Seoul, South Korea. The, abbreviated as, is a major Research university located in Tokyo, Japan.
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. Acronyms, initialisms, and alphabetisms are Abbreviations that are formed using the initial components in a phrase or name Hence DESRON 6 is used (in the full capital form) to mean "Destroyer Squadron 6," and COMNAVAIRLANT means "Commander, Naval Air Forces, Atlantic". DESRON is the United States Navy abbreviation for Destroyer Squadron.
In modern English there are several conventions for abbreviations and the choice may be confusing. Modern English is the form of the English language spoken since the Great Vowel Shift, completed in roughly 1550 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 style manual is a set of standards for design and writing of documents either for general use or for a specific publication or organization Questions which arise include those in the following subsections.
If the original word was capitalized, then the first letter of its abbreviation should retain the capital, for example Lev. for Leviticus. When abbreviating words spelled with lower case letters, there is no need for capitalization, therefore no need for a consistent rule.
A period (full stop) is sometimes written after an abbreviated word, but there is much disagreement and many exceptions.
There is never a stop/period between letters of the same word. For example, Tiberius is abbreviated as Tb. and not as T. b. .
In American English, the period is usually added if the abbreviation might otherwise be interpreted as a word, but some American writers do not use a period here. Phonology North American English regional phonology In many ways compared to English English, North American English is conservative in its Phonology. Sometimes, periods are used for certain initialisms but not others; a notable instance in American English is to write United States, European Union, and United Nations as U. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the The European Union ( EU) is a political and economic union of twenty-seven member states, located primarily in The United Nations ( UN) is an International organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in International law, International security S. , EU, and UN respectively.
A third standard removes the full stops from all abbreviations (both "Saint" and "Street" become "St").
Acronyms that were originally capitalized (with or without periods) but have since entered the vocabulary as generic words are no longer abbreviated with capital letters nor with any periods. Acronyms, initialisms, and alphabetisms are Abbreviations that are formed using the initial components in a phrase or name Examples are sonar, radar, lidar, laser, and scuba. Sonar (which started as an Acronym for sound navigation and ranging) is a technique that uses Sound propagation (usually underwater to navigate Radar is a system that uses electromagnetic waves to identify the range altitude direction or speed of both moving and fixed objects such as Aircraft, ships LIDAR ( Li ght D etection a nd R anging is an optical remote sensing technology that measures properties of scattered light to find range and/or A laser is a device that emits Light ( Electromagnetic radiation) through a process called Stimulated emission. A scuba set is an independent breathing set that provides a scuba diver with the Breathing gas necessary to breathe underwater during Scuba diving.
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, use only one period: The capital of the United States is Washington, D. C.
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.
To form the plural of an abbreviation with periods, a lowercase letter used as a noun, and abbreviations or capital letters that would be ambiguous or confusing if the 's' alone were added, use an apostrophe and an s.
Publications based in the U. S. tend to follow the style guides of the Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press. The Chicago Manual of Style (abbreviated in writing as CMS or CMOS or verbally as Chicago) is a Style guide for American English The Associated Press ( AP) is an American News agency. The AP is a Cooperative owned by its contributing Newspapers radio The U.S. Government follows a style guide published by the U.S. Government Printing Office. The federal government of the United States is the central United States Governmental body established by the United States Constitution. The Government Printing Office (GPO is an agency of the legislative branch of the United States federal government.
However, there is some inconsistency in abbreviation styles, as they are not rigorously defined by style guides. Some two-word abbreviations, like "United Nations", are abbreviated with uppercase letters and periods, and others, like "personal computer" (PC) and "compact disc" (CD), are not; rather, they are typically abbreviated without periods and in uppercase letters. A third variation is to use lowercase letters with periods; this is used by Time Magazine in abbreviating "public relations" (p. r. ). Moreover, even three-word abbreviations (most U. S. publications use uppercase abbreviations without periods) are sometimes not consistently abbreviated, even within the same article.
The New York Times is unique in having a consistent style by always abbreviating with periods: P. C. , I. B. M. , P. R. This is in contrast with the trend of British publications to completely make do without periods for convenience.
Many British publications follow some of these guidelines in abbreviation:
The International System of Units (SI) defines a set of base units, from which other "derived" units may be obtained. The abbreviations, or more accurately "symbols" (using Roman letters, or Greek in the case of ohm) for these units are also clearly defined together with a set of prefixes, themselves symbolised (abbreviated) with Roman letters (except only for micro, which uses the Greek letter µ), denoting powers of ten. The ohm (symbol Ω) is the SI unit of Electrical impedance or in the Direct current case Electrical resistance, The system is internationally recognized. Periods are not used, except as described below. Unit symbols do not have plural forms.
Units are written either in full, including the base units and their prefixes, or with all symbols. When a unit is written in full, it is written in all lower case. For example, megaampere for MA.
There should never be a period after or inside a unit; both '10 k. m. ' and '10 k. m' are wrong — the only correct form is '10 km' (only followed with a period when at the end of a sentence).
A period "within" a compound unit denotes multiplication of the base units on each side of it. Ideally, this period should be raised to the centre of the line, but often it is not. For instance, '5 ms' means 5 millisecond(s), whereas '5 m. s' means 5 metre·second(s). The "m. s" here is a compound unit formed from the product of two fundamental SI units — metre and second.
There should always be a (non-breaking) space between the number and the unit — '25 km' is correct, and '25km' is incorrect. In Section 5. 3. 3. of The International System of Units (SI), the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) states "The numerical value always precedes the unit, and a space is always used to separate the unit from the number. … The only exceptions to this rule are for the unit symbols for degree, minute, and second for plane angle. "
The case of letters (uppercase or lowercase) has meaning in the SI system, and should never be changed in a misguided attempt to follow an abbreviation style. In Orthography and Typography, letter case (or just case) is the distinction between Majuscule ( capital or upper-case For example, "10 S" denotes 10 siemens (a unit of conductance), while "10 s" denotes 10 seconds. Any unit named after a person is denoted by a symbol with an upper case first letter (S, Pa, A, V, N, Wb, W), but spelt out in full in lower case, (siemens, pascal, ampere, volt, newton, weber and watt). By contrast g, l, m, s, cd, ha represent gramme, litre, metre, second, candela and hectare respectively. The one slight exception to this rule is that the symbol for litre is allowed to be L to help avoid confusion with an upper case i or a one in some typefaces — compare l, I, and 1. Mathematics For any number x: x ·1 = 1· x = x (1 is the multiplicative identity In Typography, a typeface is a set of one or more Fonts designed with stylistic unity each comprising a coordinated set of Glyphs A typeface usually comprises
Likewise, the abbreviations of the prefixes denoting powers of ten are case-sensitive: m (milli) represents a thousandth, but M (mega) represents a million, so by inadvertent changes of case one may introduce (in this example) an error of a factor of 1 000 000 000. When a unit is written in full, the whole unit is written in lowercase, including the prefix: millivolt for mV, nanometre for nm, gigacandela for Gcd.
The above rules, if followed, ensure that the SI system is always unambiguous, so for instance mK denotes millikelvin, MK denotes megakelvin, K. m denotes kelvin. metre, and km denotes kilometre. Forms such as k. m and Km are ill-formed and technically meaningless in the SI system, although the intended meaning might be inferred from the context.