List of Commonly Used Abbreviations

By , Staff Writer
Person Talking on Cell Phone With Commonly Used Abbreviations
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    Person Talking on Cell Phone With Commonly Used Abbreviations
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Abbreviations are shortened forms of words or lengthy phrases. You'll find them in almost every discipline and area of life, from commonly used abbreviations in names or titles, such as Mr. for mister or pres. for president, to less commonly used abbreviations, such as the short version of the word abbreviation itself, which is abbr.

Types of Abbreviations

There is more than one type of abbreviation. An acronym is a new word created from the initial letters of a long name or phrase, for example, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

An initialism is a long phrase that is abbreviated to its initial letters. The letters are pronounced individually, not spoken as a word — for example, FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation). An initialism can be considered a type of acronym.

The U.S. is itself a well-established abbreviation, as are the shortened forms of the 50 states, like NY for New York. As you will see in the following lists, abbreviations exist in all areas of life, from medicine and military to geography and baking.

Common Abbreviations for Everyday Use

Whether you’re walking to the corner cafe or talking to a friend, your everyday life is full of shortened words and acronyms that you may not even notice. Here are some common abbreviations that you might stumble into.

  • approx. - approximately
  • appt. - appointment
  • apt. - apartment
  • A.S.A.P. - as soon as possible
  • B.Y.O.B. - bring your own bottle/beverage/beer
  • c/o - care of
  • dept. - department
  • D.I.Y. - Do it yourself
  • est. - established
  • E.T.A. - estimated time of arrival
  • min. - minute or minimum
  • misc. - miscellaneous
  • Mr. - Mister
  • Mrs. (pronounced “missus”) - from the honorific “mistress”
  • Ms. - Miss
  • no. - number
  • R.S.V.P. - Répondez, s'il vous plaît (from French for "please reply”)
  • tel. - telephone
  • temp. - temperature or temporary
  • vet. - veteran or veterinarian
  • vs. - versus

Cooking and Baking Abbreviations

Abbreviations are also necessary for measurements when cooking and baking. After all, your cake won't come out very well if you don't know the difference between:

  • tsp or t (lowercase) - teaspoon/teaspoons
  • tbs, tbsp or T (uppercase) - tablespoon/tablespoons
  • c - cup/cups
  • gal - gallon
  • lb - pound/pounds
  • pt - pint
  • qt - quart

Abbreviations for Geography and Map Locations

If you want to find your way around, you better know location abbreviations such as:

  • Ave. - Avenue
  • Blvd. - Boulevard
  • Cyn. - Canyon
  • Dr. - Drive
  • Ln. - Lane
  • Rd. - Road
  • St. - Street 
  • E - east
  • N - north
  • NE - northeast
  • NW - northwest
  • S - south
  • SE - southeast
  • SW - southwest
  • W - west

Academic Abbreviations

While you’re bound to see some abbreviations in class, the academic world is full of shortened words even outside the lecture hall. Some of the most common abbreviations in academics are tied to the type of degree that you’re aiming for, including:

  • BA - Bachelor of Arts
  • BS - Bachelor of Science
  • MA - Master of Arts
  • MBA - Master of Business Administration
  • MFA - Master of Fine Arts
  • M. Phil or MPhil - Master of Philosophy
  • JD - Juris Doctor
  • DC - Doctor of Chiropractic
  • PhD, Ph.D, DPhil - Doctor of Philosophy

Abbreviations at Work

Gather ‘round the water cooler with your coworkers, and you’re bound to notice some abbreviations. That can get a little confusing, especially with the number of C-suite positions in your organization. Some of the most common abbreviations you might see at work include:

  • Acct. - Accountant or accounting
  • Asst. - Assistant
  • CMO - Chief Marketing Officer
  • CFO - Chief Financial Officer
  • CEO - Chief Executive Officer
  • Corp. - Corporation
  • EVP - Executive Vice President
  • Inc. - Incorporated
  • MD - Managing Director
  • VP - Vice President
  • SVP - Senior Vice President
  • PA - Personal Assistant

Social Media and Online Abbreviations

The advent of the internet brought about a whole new range of abbreviations into our daily lives. For the sake of brevity and efficiency, our texts, tweets, and chats are now made up of many abbreviations. Some common abbreviations you may see online include:

  • AFAIK - as far as I know
  • AFK - away from keyboard
  • BRB - be right back
  • IIRC - if I recall/remember correctly
  • LOL - laugh out loud
  • NP - no problem
  • ROFL - rolling on the floor laughing
  • TY - thank you
  • YW - you’re welcome
  • DM - direct message
  • WTH - what the heck/hell
  • FTR - for the record
  • sry - sorry
  • thx - thanks
  • ofc - of course
  • IMO - in my opinion
  • IMHO - in my humble/honest opinion
  • tbh - to be honest
  • idk/idek - I don’t know/I don’t even know
  • fyi - for your information
  • jk - just kidding

Alphabet Agency Abbreviations

During the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created a number of agencies to stimulate job growth in the United States. Known as "alphabet agencies," these are some of the most famous abbreviations today.

  • CCC (The Civilian Conservation Corps.) - Wildlife conservation and national preservation, including planting trees and fighting erosion
  • CWA (The Civil Works Administration) - Renovation and construction, including building repair, road building and other infrastructural work
  • FDIC (The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) - Insured customers against losses of up to $5,000 in the event of bank failure
  • FHA (The Federal Housing Administration) - Helped people secure home loans
  • NRA (The National Recovery Administration) - Aimed to prevent deflation and encourage market competition
  • SSA (The Social Security Administration) - Created a national pension for retirees, provided unemployment insurance and supported  government aid for single mothers, children and handicapped persons

Abbreviations Based on Time and Date

Without abbreviations, time is just a bunch of numbers, which doesn’t help anyone get where (and when) they need to go. Thankfully, we have abbreviations to keep things straight.

  • AM - ante meridiem (before noon)
  • PM - post meridiem (after noon)
  • AD - Anno Domini ("The Year of Our Lord”)
  • BC - Before Christ
  • GMT - Greenwich Mean Time
  • UTC - Universal Time Coordinated (also referred to as Coordinated Universal Time)
  • PST - Pacific Standard Time
  • MST - Mountain Standard Time
  • CST - Central Standard Time
  • EST - Eastern Standard Time

Understanding Latin-based Abbreviations

Much of English is rooted in the now-dead Latin language, and that includes a number of abbreviations. Some of the most common abbreviations that we use in day-to-day life are derived from this ancient language, including:

  • e.g. - exampli gratia (example given)
  • etc. - etcetera (and other things)
  • i.e. - id est (that is)
  • n.b. or NB - nota bene (“take notice” or "note well”)
  • P.S. - post scriptum (written after)
  • viz. - videlicet (namely)
  • et al. - et alia (and others)
  • ibid. - ibidem (in the same place)
  • Q.E.D. - quod erat demonstrandum (which was to be demonstrated)
  • C.V. - curriculum vitae (course of life)

Abbreviations Save Time

Abbreviations are a common part of our lives. Almost anything you do, from baking cookies to texting a friend, will require you to know an abbreviation or two. Just remember: Abbreviations usually (but not always) consist of a letter or group of letters taken from a word or phrase. Learn more about abbreviations with: