verb ab·bre·vi·ate \ ə-ˈbrē-vē-ˌāt \
|Updated on: 13 Aug 2018

Definition of abbreviate

abbreviated; abbreviating
: 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."


play \-ˌā-tər\ noun

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Recent Examples of abbreviate from the Web

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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.

Origin and Etymology of abbreviate

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

ABBREVIATE Defined for Kids


verb ab·bre·vi·ate \ ə-ˈbrē-vē-ˌāt \

Definition of abbreviate for Students

abbreviated; abbreviating
: to make briefer : shorten

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fullness to the point of excess

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