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What does sb. mean? I keep seeing it certain posters' questions and I'm not sure what it's supposed to stand for — the word something, my initial guess, doesn't have a 'b' in it. So my questions are: Is it a known abbreviation? What does it mean?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

sb. is used as abbreviation for substantive, which grammarians use as a basic term form for noun. This is an old practice from the Latin days. n is used to denote proper nouns in such cases.

For example, in "What does “pull sb. out of the hat” mean?", sb. is used as a placeholder for a noun.

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1  
"For e.g."? Ouch! "For example" and "e.g." are interchangeable, but they don't mix. –  MT_Head May 25 '11 at 3:34
    
Thanks @MT_Head –  rest_day May 25 '11 at 4:06
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This is backed up by a Google Books search, only slightly more commonly than for somebody: google.com.au/… –  hippietrail May 25 '11 at 4:26
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+1 The OED uses it this way as well. –  Cerberus May 27 '11 at 3:52

Could it just be the abbreviation of somebody ? Here is an official definition.

But there are also many possible contenders.

Edit
In case your question refers to the previously submitted question "what does pull sb. out of the hat mean ?" then the answer is definitely "somebody".

For instance in my Oxford Phrasal Verbs Dictionary, I can read:

enter image description here

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2  
I've definitely seen it used for somebody in dictionaries, possibly without the period. You can see it used this way in Google Books results: google.com.au/… –  hippietrail May 25 '11 at 4:24

protected by RegDwigнt Sep 16 '12 at 16:57

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