ab·​bre·​vi·​ate | \ə-ˈbrē-vē-ˌāt \
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 \-​ˌā-​tər \ 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

The assessment was based on a variety of evidence that not only implicated the institute, which in Russian is abbreviated as CNIIHM, but also a specific professor who works there. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Russia was likely behind dangerous critical infrastructure attack, report says," 24 Oct. 2018 The field is called computational fluid dynamics, often abbreviated as CFD. Lee Phillips, Ars Technica, "Turbulence, the oldest unsolved problem in physics," 10 Oct. 2018 In Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, the species that causes most red tides is Karenia brevis, often abbreviated as K. brevis. James Rogers, Fox News, "Red tide crisis: The science behind the toxic algae bloom on Florida's Gulf Coast," 15 Aug. 2018 The middle portion is decidedly the best, and the sections that bookend it might easily have been abbreviated. Harold Holzer, WSJ, "Burning Down the South," 7 June 2018 The Eagles also practiced at the far end of one field, many yards from where the media was permitted to stand, so today’s notes will be abbreviated and strictly in the form of a running diary. Jeff Mclane,, "Eagles practice observations: Carson Wentz's arm strength; Philly Special redux; quarterback golf," 14 June 2018 That’s why the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-Comparison Exercise, abbreviated as IMBIE, was established in 2011. Amina Khan,, "Antarctica’s ice is shrinking at an unprecedented rate that could imperil coastal regions worldwide," 13 June 2018 Founded by Al and Jerry Lapin in 1958, the International House of Pancakes abbreviated its name to IHOP in 1973. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "IHOP name change in the works? Restaurant chain plans transformation," 11 June 2018 In many years, the head coach either has canceled or significantly abbreviated that final session to reward players for their investment over the previous two-plus months. Dan Wiederer,, "Can Kevin White's passion and eagerness to learn catalyze his latest comeback attempt?," 6 June 2018

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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Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for abbreviate

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

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More Definitions for abbreviate


ab·​bre·​vi·​ate | \ə-ˈbrē-vē-ˌāt \
abbreviated; abbreviating

Kids Definition of abbreviate

: to make briefer : shorten

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