verb (used with object), ab·bre·vi·at·ed, ab·bre·vi·at·ing.

to shorten (a word or phrase) by omitting letters, substituting shorter forms, etc., so that the shortened form can represent the whole word or phrase, as ft. for foot, ab. for about, R.I. for Rhode Island, NW for Northwest, or Xn for Christian.
to reduce (anything) in length, duration, etc.; make briefer: to abbreviate a speech.

verb (used without object), ab·bre·vi·at·ed, ab·bre·vi·at·ing.

Origin of abbreviate

1400–50; late Middle English abbreviaten < Late Latin abbreviātus shortened (past participle of abbreviāre), equivalent to Latin ad- ad- + breviātus (brevi(s) short + -ātus -ate1)
Related formsab·bre·vi·a·tor, noun

Synonyms for abbreviate

See shorten. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for abbreviate

Contemporary Examples of abbreviate

  • And it's easier to delay something than to make something happen, so things tended to elongate rather than abbreviate.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Donald Rumsfeld on What Went Right

    John Barry

    February 8, 2011

Historical Examples of abbreviate

  • "Well, abbreviate 'community,' that's the longest word," suggested Dick.

  • It is common, however, to abbreviate them in a manner peculiarly Malay.

    A Manual of the Malay language

    William Edward Maxwell

  • Page 289: "Ben: Perley Poore" did abbreviate his first name with a colon.

    Abraham Lincoln

    William Eleroy Curtis

  • She thought his name long, but had not yet decided how to abbreviate it.

    To Leeward

    F. Marion Crawford

  • There are a number of words which we abbreviate or contract, in our every-day use.

    Plain English

    Marian Wharton

British Dictionary definitions for abbreviate


verb (tr)

to shorten (a word or phrase) by contraction or omission of some letters or words
to shorten (a speech or piece of writing) by omitting sections, paraphrasing, etc
to cut short
Derived Formsabbreviator, noun

Word Origin for abbreviate

C15: from the past participle of Late Latin abbreviāre, from Latin brevis brief
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for abbreviate

mid-15c., from Latin abbreviatus, past participle of abbreviare "to shorten" (see abbreviation). Also sometimes 15c. abbrevy, from Middle French abrevier (14c.), from Latin abbreviare. Related: Abbreviated; abbreviating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper