1. a method of rapid handwriting using simple strokes, abbreviations, or symbols that designate letters, words, or phrases (distinguished from longhand).
  2. a simplified or makeshift manner or system of communication: We spoke in a kind of pidgin shorthand to overcome the language barrier.
  1. using or able to use shorthand.
  2. written in shorthand.
  3. of or relating to shorthand.

Origin of shorthand

First recorded in 1630–40; short + hand Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for short-hand

Contemporary Examples of short-hand

Historical Examples of short-hand

  • Mrs. Fortescue says, 'that he is a complete master of short-hand writing.'

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • She was taking lessons in short-hand and type-writing in the afternoons.

    Mary Gray

    Katharine Tynan

  • Lady Agatha dictated it, and Mary took it down in short-hand.

    Mary Gray

    Katharine Tynan

  • In the short-hand of the police-courts, you had better call it suicide.

  • I must have a stenographer of course, a short-hand typist, if I do begin this thing.

    Man and Maid

    Elinor Glyn

British Dictionary definitions for short-hand


    1. a system of rapid handwriting employing simple strokes and other symbols to represent words or phrases
    2. (as modifier)a shorthand typist
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 short-hand



method of rapid writing, 1636, from short (adj.) in the "rapid" sense + hand (n.) "handwriting." Short-handed "having too few 'hands' " is from 1794; the ice hockey sense is recorded from 1939.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper