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A shortening is an abbreviation where the end of the full word has been cut off, like this:

approx.[imately] approx.

Occasionally the front of the full word may be cut off:

[tele]phone phone

And very occasionally the front and end of the full word are cut off:

[in]flu[enza] flu

Here are some more examples:

shortening full form
cont. continued
Corp. Corporation
enc. enclosed
Nov. November
Prof. Professor
ad advertisement
app application
zoo zoological garden
bike bicycle
wellies wellingtons

Note that some shortenings (the last five here, for example) have entered the language as words or informal words, that is, some people may be unaware that they are abbreviations of something longer. Notice too that for such shortenings there may sometimes be a slight change of spelling (bike, wellies).


How do we punctuate shortenings? Do we put a full stop/period at the end?

For abbreviations that we use like words (the last five above, for example), we do not use a full stop at the end.

For the rest (the first five in the table above, for example), this is to some extent a question of style. Some writers and publishers prefer the modern approach and use no full stop. Others prefer a more traditional approach and use a full stop (which indicates that the rest of the word is missing). You can use either style, but the important thing is to be consistent.

If the full form starts with a capital letter, then the shortening must start with a capital letter (Monday → Mon., approximately → approx.)


Shortenings that are designed to save space in writing are usually (but not always) spoken like the full form (so we typically say "continued" not "cont.").

write: cont. - Corp. - enc. - Nov. - Prof.

say: continued - Corporation - enclosed - November - Professor

Shortenings that are designed to save time and effort in speaking are of course spoken in the short form.

say and write: ad - app - zoo - bike - wellies

shortening (noun): Shortenings are abbreviations in which the beginning or end of the word has been dropped. In some cases both the beginning and the end have been omitted. - Oxford Dictionaries