I find it very common for English speakers to shorten a single word to 3–4 letters long by picking its first letter and some (or all) of its subsequent consonants, like so:

  • statement => stmt
  • something => sth
  • international => intl
  • average => avg
  • attack => atk
  • mind => mnd
  • hours => hrs
  • power => pwr

Is there a specific name for this? I mean, something more specific than abbreviation?

It's also possible to shorten a word by simply picking the first 3–4 letters:

  • second => sec
  • private => pri
  • information => info
  • power => pow

Is there any specific term to refer to this as opposed to the "consonant-picking" strategy?

  • "Abbreviation" is the term used for either. However, there is no "defined" technique to create abbreviations, which is a problem when people pick things like "mod" and then use the abbreviation in an ambiguous context. There's no objective way to know what "mod" means, other than best educated guess. "Moderator"? "Modem"? "Modern"? "Model"? Sometimes it's better not to abbreviate at all.
    – Andrew
    Mar 8, 2017 at 20:40
  • It is sometimes done, but I don't think it's all that common in general writing. (Where have you ever seen mind abbreviated to mnd?) Some of them, like sth, are almost exclusive to dictionaries and to English-language learners who see it in dictionaries and then think it's a general feature of English.
    – stangdon
    Mar 8, 2017 at 21:17
  • 1
    I saw mnd in a stat page of a game (along with spd (speed), crt (critical), etc), but I should've chosen something more common.
    – naruto
    Mar 9, 2017 at 2:18
  • 1
    hi,naruto, thanks for always answering my question ;).
    – Flonne
    Dec 20, 2018 at 7:10

1 Answer 1


As @Andrew said in the comment, we call it (all of them) abbreviation. However, if you want to be more specific,

There are four different types of abbreviations in English:



An initialism is formed from the first letters of a group of words. We pronounce each letter individually.

FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation

ASAP – as soon as possible

CD – compact disc

CEO – Chief Executive Officer

FAQ – frequently asked questions

PLC – public limited company

UFO – unidentified flying object

USA – United States of America

VAT – value added tax


An acronym is formed from the first letters of a group of words.

We pronounce the acronym as a word.

NASA – National Aeronautical and Space Administration

NATO – North American Treaty Organisation

OPEC – Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries

PIN – personal identification number (code for bank card)

RAM – random access memory (computer memory)

SIM – subscriber identification module (card for mobile phone)

VAT – value added tax (sales tax in the UK)

ZIP – zone improvement plan (post code in the USA)

VAT (value added tax) is a special case. It can be 2 types of abbreviation:

It can be an acronym and we pronounce it as one word /væt/ (rhymes with cat)

It can also be treated as an initialism and we pronounce each letter separately “v”, “a”, “t”

We must write acronyms with capital letters.


A shortening is an abbreviation in which the beginning or end of the word has been omitted.

There are 2 types:

Type 1 shortenings (treated as real words)

ad – advertisement (to promote a product or service)

app – application (software)

flu – influenza (an illness)

blog – weblog (a type of website)

rhino – rhinoceros (wild animal)

We use type 1 shortenings like real words. We write them and say them as one word.

Rules for capital letters

The first letter is a capital letter only if the full word starts with a capital letter:

Example: full form is “Briton” (with a capital first letter) therefore the shortening also must start with a capital letter: “Brit”.

Example sentence: There are lots of Brits living in Spain.

Rules for full stops (periods)

We do NOT use a full stop after type 1 shortenings:

I placed an ad in the newspaper. correct

I placed an ad. in the newspaper. wrong

Type 2 shortenings (not treated as real words)

Feb. – February

Sat. – Saturday

Type 2 shortenings are only used in writing. But when we say or read them, we say the full version of the word.

Writing: “Please send me the Feb accounts.”

Speaking: “Please send me the February accounts.”

Rules for capital letters

The first letter of a type 2 shortening is a capital letter only if the full word starts with a capital letter.


Contractions are abbreviations in which we omit letters from the middle of a word. We do NOT write a full stop at the end of a contraction. The first letter is a capital letter only if the full word starts with a capital letter.

Type 1 contractions (missing letters from 1 word)

Dr – Doctor

govt – government

St – Saint

Mr – Mister

Type 2 contractions (missing letters from more than 1 word)

We use an apostrophe to represent the missing letters:

she's/he‘s – he is/she is

I'd/they‘d – I would/they would

I‘ve – I have

Source for abbreviations:





  • Thank you, so looks like there is no specific word for "consonant-picking" :)
    – naruto
    Dec 20, 2018 at 15:32

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