ab·​bre·​vi·​ate | \ ə-ˈbrē-vē-ˌāt How to pronounce abbreviate (audio) \
abbreviated; abbreviating

Definition of abbreviate

transitive verb

: to make briefer an abbreviated session an abbreviated version of the story especially : to reduce (a word or name) to a shorter form intended to stand for the whole You can abbreviate the word building as bldg. "United States of America" is commonly abbreviated to "USA."

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Other Words from abbreviate

abbreviator \ ə-​ˈbrē-​vē-​ˌā-​tər How to pronounce abbreviator (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for abbreviate

shorten, curtail, abbreviate, abridge, retrench mean to reduce in extent. shorten implies reduction in length or duration. shorten a speech curtail adds an implication of cutting that in some way deprives of completeness or adequacy. ceremonies curtailed because of rain abbreviate implies a making shorter usually by omitting some part. using an abbreviated title abridge implies a reduction in compass or scope with retention of essential elements and a relative completeness in the result. the abridged version of the novel retrench suggests a reduction in extent or costs of something felt to be excessive. declining business forced the company to retrench

Did You Know?

Abbreviate and abridge both mean "to make shorter," so it probably will come as no surprise that both derive from the Latin verb brevis, meaning "short." Abbreviate first appeared in print in English in the 15th century and derives from abbreviatus, the past participle of Late Latin abbreviare, which in turn can be traced back to brevis. Abridge, which appeared a century earlier, also comes from abbreviare but took a side trip through Anglo-French before arriving in Middle English as abregen. Brevis is also the ancestor of English brief itself, as well as brevity and breviary ("a prayer book" or "a brief summary"), among others.

Examples of abbreviate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But researchers at security firm Dragos found something else that has the potential to be more disruptive: code that actively seeks out and forcibly stops applications used in industrial control systems, which is usually abbreviated as ICS. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "New ransomware doesn’t just encrypt data. It also meddles with critical infrastructure," 3 Feb. 2020 With the year being 2020, abbreviating the date gives scammers the opportunity to alter it by adding on two numbers at the end. Emily Bamforth, cleveland, "Don’t abbreviate 2020 on your checks or official documents, to guard against fraud," 6 Jan. 2020 Reports around the country urge people not to abbreviate the year 2020 when signing checks or other documents, as the abbreviated version could leave them in the lurch. oregonlive, "Don’t abbreviate 2020 on checks and documents. It could leave you in the lurch.," 3 Jan. 2020 Not only was the silhouette breezily abbreviated, the designer worked transparencies in throughout. Vogue, "Raising the Roof at Chanel: A Story in Pictures," 1 Oct. 2019 Certain that few could pronounce his surname, Roettele decided to abbreviate the brand name to Ro-Tel. Washington Post, "Made in America," 11 Oct. 2019 The 6-6, 309-pound Cummings was a four-year starter at Wyoming, but his final two years were abbreviated due to injuries. Joe Nguyen, The Denver Post, "3 more Colorado players in XFL inaugural draft pool after Day 3 of announcements," 9 Oct. 2019 Of course, your owner should have responded to your phone calls promptly and shouldn’t have tried to abbreviate your stay. The Mercury News, "Travel Troubleshooter: Is there a fix for this Vrbo cancellation problem?," 23 Sep. 2019 The Jamboree has had holiday overlays and even abbreviated its songs. Dewayne Bevil,, "Disney World: Revisiting the Tiki Room birds, Country Bears," 9 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abbreviate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of abbreviate

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for abbreviate

Middle English abbreviaten, borrowed from Late Latin abbreviātus, past participle of abbreviāre "to make shorter" — more at abridge

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Time Traveler for abbreviate

Time Traveler

The first known use of abbreviate was in the 15th century

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Statistics for abbreviate

Last Updated

26 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Abbreviate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for abbreviate


ab·​bre·​vi·​ate | \ ə-ˈbrē-vē-ˌāt How to pronounce abbreviate (audio) \
abbreviated; abbreviating

Kids Definition of abbreviate

: to make briefer : shorten

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