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


using or able to use shorthand.
written in shorthand.
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. 2019

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