Shortening Words: Tips for Effective & Improved Writing.

Shortening words is the process of cutting the beginning or end of a word from a longer word. It involves creating new words by omitting part of the original word but retaining the original meaning. Words are shortened for several reasons, including to save time or space.

Shortening Words: What it Entails

A shortened word is an abridged version of the complete word. Shortening words in a piece of work can be a great way to make it concise.

Shortened forms of words can be valuable, especially when you need to take notes down quickly.

Shortening often has a negative connotation. While it is okay to use shortened forms of words in informal writings, it is best to avoid them in professional and academic writings. Shortened words in professional contents can quickly become a crutch that creates a lack of clarity and understanding.

To shorten words, you need to be familiar with the roots of the words you are shortening. Understanding the meaning of root words will allow you to know where to begin. Make sure you check your spelling and grammar since it may be harder to read and understand shortened words if they aren’t obvious.

If the meaning of a word is not immediately apparent, you may want to look up the root word in a dictionary. It will make you understand what words you can use as the abridged version.

Commonly Shortened Words in English

Days of the week and months of the year: Mon., Tues., Wed., Jan., Feb.,

Unit of measurements: “cm” for centimer, “mm” for millimeter, “in” for inch.

Titles: “Prof” for Professor, “Mr.” for mister, “Mrs.” for mistress.

How to Shorten Words

Shortening words might be a contentious issue, but can also be valuable. Sometimes, going for a shortened version of a word is less complicated than systematically and impassionately going for the complete form.

Many people shorten words to save time and make it easier for the reader to understand and remember what they read. The four most common ways of shortening words are:

1. Cutting the beginning of the word

  • Telephone – Phone
  • University – Versity
  • Raccoon – Coon
  • Gator – Alligator
  • Parachute – Chute
  • Turnpike – Pike

2. Cutting the end of the word

  • Rehabilitation – Rehab
  • University – Uni
  • Professor – Prof
  • Application – App
  • Introduction – Intro
  • Laboratory – Lab
  • Continued – Cont

3. Cutting the beginning and the end.

  • Influenza – Flu
  • Pyjamas – Jams
  • Apollinaris – Polly
  • Detective – Tec

4. Changing the spelling of the word.

  • Vegetable/vegetarian – Veggie
  • Christmas – Xmas
  • Bicycle – Bike

How to Punctuate Shortened Words

While adding a period at the end of some shortened words is necessary, some are better left that way.

For example, the shortened version of continued is written as cont., while the shortened version of bicycle is written as bike, with no punctuation. Knowing the right scenarios to punctuate will do a lot of good in your writing.

For some writers, punctuating shortened words is an intent of style. They prefer the modern approach, which uses no full stop.

Others, however, prefer a more traditional approach that uses a full stop to indicate that the word is incomplete. These styles work in different scenarios, and it is essential to learn how.

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash


A great way to make your writing concise is to shorten words. Shortening has a significant impact on the length of your word. With the help of punctuating short words, they are still understandable while retaining the meaning of what you’re saying.

In addition to learning how to shorten words, you need to know how to punctuate them correctly. Punctuating short words is often challenging as there are varying rules for what happens. However, the period helps readers understand that a word has been shortened.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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