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An abbreviation (from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, 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 ...

Latin
''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. Notes and references Notes References Sources * * * Further reading * * {{Latin phrases E ...
, i.e. or
RSVP RSVP is an Acronym and initialism, initialism derived from the French language, 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 Fran ...

RSVP
). Some types of abbreviations are
acronym An acronym is a word In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign langu ...
s (which are pronounceable),
initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In ma ...
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 coalescence (linguistics), merge into one new vowel or diphthon ...
. 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 reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another o ...
and
phonetic Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) an ...
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 A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
s and bringing together the first and last letters or elements, such as "I'm" . Thus contractions are a
subset In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). ...

subset
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, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geogr ...
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 te ...
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 English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
poem ''
Beowulf ''Beowulf'' (; ang, Bēowulf ) is an Old English epic poem An epic poem is a lengthy narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literat ...

Beowulf
'' used many abbreviations, for example the
Tironian et Tironian notes ( la, notae Tironianae, links=no; or Tironian shorthand) is a system of shorthand Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed and brevity of writing as compared to longhand{{Short pages monitor A syllabic abbreviation is usually formed from the initial syllables of several words, such as ''
Interpol The International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO; french: link=no, Organisation internationale de police criminelle), commonly known as Interpol ( , ), is an that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control. Headquartere ...

Interpol
'' = ''International'' + ''police''. It is a variant of the acronym. Syllabic abbreviations are usually written using
lower case Letter case is the distinction between the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or ...
, sometimes starting with a
capital letter Letter case is the distinction between the letters Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) A letter is a segmental symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or ...
, 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 (luggage) A portmanteau is a piece of luggage Baggage or luggage consists of bags, cases, and containers which hold a travel Travel is the movement of people between distant ...

portmanteau
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, telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of info ...
(''Office of Communications'') and
Oftel frameless, right The Office of Telecommunications (Oftel) (''the telecommunications regulator'') was a department in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Bri ...
(''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" (more accurately a quadrilateral) is bounded by Canal Street ...

Tribeca
(''Triangle below Canal Street'') and
SoHo Soho is an area of the City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London which forms a core part of Central London. It is the site of the United Kingdom's ...

SoHo
(''South of Houston Street''). This usage has spread into other American cities, giving
SoMa South of Market (SoMa) is a neighborhood in San Francisco, California San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Fr ...

SoMa
, San Francisco (''South of Market'') and
LoDo, Denver LoDo (Lower Downtown) is an unofficial neighborhood in Denver, Colorado Denver (), officially the City and County of Denver, is the List of capitals in the United States#State capital, capital and List of U.S. states' largest cities by popu ...
(''Lower Downtown''), amongst others. Chicago-based electric service provider
ComEd Commonwealth Edison, commonly known by syllabic abbreviation An abbreviation (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken i ...
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 A destroyer squadron is a naval squadron A squadron, or naval squadron, is a significant group of warships which is nonetheless considered too small to be designated a naval fleet, fleet. A squadron is typically a part of a fleet. Between dif ...
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 Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease A contagious disease is a disease A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure A structure is an arrangement and organization o ...

COVID-19
''(COrona VIrus Disease 2019)'' caused by the
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2) is the coronavirus Coronaviruses are a group of related that cause diseases in s and s. In humans and birds, they cause s that can range from mild to lethal. Mild illnes ...
virus (itself frequently abbreviated to
SARS-CoV-2 Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2) is the coronavirus Coronaviruses are a group of related that cause diseases in s and s. In humans and birds, they cause s that can range from mild to lethal. Mild illnes ...

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 The German la ...

German
; 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 January is the first month of the year in the Julian calendar, Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first of seven months to have a length of 31 days. The first day of the month is known as New Year' ...
, if not the end of the Great War. Kriminalpolizei, ''Kriminalpolizei'', literally ''criminal police'' but idiomatically the Criminal Investigation Department of any German police force, begat ''KriPo'' (variously capitalised), and likewise Schutzpolizei, ''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, ''Ordnungspolizei'' or ''order police''; the state KriPos together formed the Sicherheitspolizei, ''Sicherheitspolizei'' or ''security police''; and there was also the Gestapo, ''Geheime Staatspolizei'' or ''secret state police''. The new order of the German Democratic Republic in the east brought about a conscious denazification, but also a repudiation of earlier turns of phrase in favour of neologisms such as ''Stasi'' 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 Politburo, 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, from ''Theo Albrecht'', the name of its founder, followed by ''discount''; Haribo, from ''Hans Riegl'', the name of its founder, followed by ''Bonn'', the town of its head office; and Adidas, from Adi Dassler, ''Adolf "Adi" Dassler'', the nickname of its founder followed by his surname.


Russian

Leninist organisations such as the ''Comintern'' (''Communist International'') and ''Komsomol'' (''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, there is ''Beltelecom'' (Belarus Telecommunication) and Belsat (Belarus Satellite).


Spanish

Syllabic abbreviations are common in Spanish (language), Spanish; examples abound in organization names such as Pemex 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, syllabic abbreviations are also common; examples include Petronas (for ''Petroliam Nasional'', "National Petroleum"), its Indonesian equivalent Pertamina (from its original name ''Perusahaan Pertambangan Minyak dan Gas Bumi Negara'', "State Oil and Natural Gas Mining Company"), and Ministry of Transportation (Indonesia), Kemenhub (from ''Kementerian Perhubungan'', "Ministry of Transportation")


CJK

East Asian languages whose writing systems use Chinese characters form abbreviations similarly by using key Chinese characters from a term or phrase. For example, in Japanese the term for the United Nations, ''kokusai rengō'' (国際連合) is often abbreviated to ''kokuren'' (国連). (Such abbreviations are called :ja:略語, ryakugo (略語) in Japanese; see also Japanese abbreviated and contracted words). The syllabic abbreviation is frequently used for universities: for instance, ''Tōdai'' (東大) for ''Tōkyō daigaku'' (東京大学, University of Tokyo) and is used similarly in Chinese: ''Běidà'' (北大) for ''Běijīng Dàxué'' (北京大学, Peking University). The English phrase ":wikt:gung ho, Gung ho" originated as a Chinese abbreviation.


See also


Lists

* List of abbreviations used in medical prescriptions * List of abbreviations in photography * List of acronyms * List of portmanteaus * List of classical abbreviations * List of medieval abbreviations * List of business and finance abbreviations * Wiktionary:Wiktionary:Abbreviations in Webster, The abbreviations used in the 1913 edition of Webster's dictionary


Synonyms etc.

* Abbreviation (music) * Clipping (morphology) * Gramogram * SMS language * Numeronym * Neologism * RAS syndrome * Unicode alias names and abbreviations


Notes


References


External links

* * {{Authority control Abbreviations,