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 shorthand

Contemporary Examples of shorthand

Historical Examples of shorthand

  • Closely looked at, all novel-writing is a sort of shorthand.

  • He could read in my face that I was guilty, and he demanded my shorthand note-book.

    The Crevice

    William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander

  • But you don't suppose I took notes in shorthand of what we said to each other, do you?


    Charles James Lever

  • The youth was serious, industrious, and trustworthy, and in shorthand incomparable.

    A Great Man

    Arnold Bennett

  • Instead of going into logarithms, Henry went into shorthand.

    A Great Man

    Arnold Bennett

British Dictionary definitions for shorthand



  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 shorthand

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