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[uh-bree-vee-eyt] /əˈbri viˌeɪt/
verb (used with object), abbreviated, abbreviating.
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), abbreviated, abbreviating.
to use abbreviations.
late Middle English
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 forms
abbreviator, noun
See shorten. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for abbreviate
  • One might suggest that he should abbreviate the history and cut to the spontaneous comedy.
  • Depending on whose heavily abbreviate version of the story you read, facts can appear in a different light.
  • Nor does this inclination to abbreviate stop at the door of the laboratory.
  • Runners who abbreviate their stride try instinctively to quicken their pace to compensate.
  • abbreviate those terms or phrases that are used frequently within the publication.
British Dictionary definitions for abbreviate


verb (transitive)
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 Forms
abbreviator, noun
Word Origin
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
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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
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