The word abbreviation comes from the Latin verb abbreviare with the adjective brevis, which means short. When you abbreviate something, you make it shorter.
Many abbreviations are formed by leaving out all except the first few letters of a word. These abbreviations often end with a full stop.
Names of the months are abbreviated according to this general principle of just shortening words.
|Sep. or Sept.||September|
There is more variation in how the days of the week are abbreviated.
|Tu., Tue. or Tues.||Tuesday|
|Th., Thu., Thur. or Thurs.||Thursday|
Many abbreviations leave out letters in the middle of a word and end with the last letter of the word. Here are some examples:
Some titles also follow this principle:
|Messrs||Plural of Mr|
You can read more about titles here.
Geographical names are often abbreviated:
|E. Afr.||East Africa|
|Victoria Rd.||Victoria Road|
Names of the states in the USA are abbreviated to two uppercase letters. You can find them here. The capital Washington is in the District of Columbia, abbreviated DC.
Abbreviations can also become words in their own right and we no longer realise that they are abbreviations.
Hankie (or hanky) is short for handkerchief.
The American colloquialism nabe comes from neighborhood.
Pram is short for perambulator, a carriage for a baby.
Soccer is an abbreviation of association football, which is different from American football.
In American English abbreviations are usually followed by a full stop. In British English this generally applies to abbreviations that are formed by the first letter or the first few letters of a word as in the first table above.
Acronyms and initialisms are also abbreviations. I will write about them in my next entry.