All About Abbreviations

An abbreviation is defined as a shortened version of a word or phrase. But did you know that there are many different types of abbreviations? Here is a list of abbreviation types:
Acronym – This forms a word using the initial parts or first letters of a name. For example, ABBA, MADD, and OPEC are all acronyms that take the first letter from each word to form a new word. Lesser known acronyms include scuba and laser. The latter examples show that not all acronyms have to be capitalized.
Initialism – Also called alphabetism, this is a group of letters, each pronounced separately, used as an abbreviation for a name or expression. Examples include: CD, TV, and UK.
Truncation – This type of abbreviation consists only of the first part of a word. These are most often used when referring to proper titles such as months of the year or days of the week, e.g., Mon., Fri., Apr., Oct.
Clipped – Similar to truncation in that you are using a part of the word to form the abbreviation, but in this case you’re using either the middle or end. Common clipped abbreviations include phone (telephone) and fridge (refrigerator).
Aphesis – In this case, you have dropped the unstressed vowel at the beginning of the word. These are often unintentional and casually spoken versions of the words. Perhaps the best example is ’cause instead of because.
Portmanteau – The blending of two or more words will give you a portmanteau. Some of my personal favorites include liger (lion and tiger), spork (spoon and fork), skort (shorts and skirt), and brinner (breakfast and dinner).
Some things to consider when using abbreviations:
  • Anyone can make up an abbreviation and many are non-standard. They should, therefore, be left out of formal writing.
  • If the full word would be capitalized (e.g., Sunday or January), make sure to capitalize the abbreviation (e.g., Sun. or Jan.).

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