I'm writing a thesis about students living in dormitories and I would like to know if a dorm is an acceptable expression for a dormitory?

I don't live in GB nor in USA and the thesis is neither about students from GB nor from USA, so I don't see any difference between residence hall and dormitory.

2 Answers 2


As bib mentioned, dorm is an informal word. Collins agrees.

However, a very interesting Ngram that shows the informal word is steadily making headway into published works.

Normally, I would caution against using such informal language in a thesis. However, if dormitory life is the central theme of your thesis, using the lengthier dormitory over and over again might decrease the readability of your work.

I would suggest deliberately introducing the shorter word early on in your work:

The dormitories (or "dorms") are where...

After that, you should be able to use the word dorms elsewhere in the document.

Really, though, you ought to check with your advisor on this.

  • Thank you. I didn't know that something like Ngram exists. It sure is a valuable insight. Feb 8, 2013 at 20:50
  • It's a cool tool. You can even adjust the axis to view percentages
    – J.R.
    Feb 8, 2013 at 21:29

In the US, dorm is an acceptable short form of dormitory, but in most cases would be considered informal.

While there is no specific difference between residence halls and dormitories, the former would be more likely used in referring to educational settings, and the latter is used in all contexts, including both school and business settings.

  • Thank you for your answer. I marked J.R.'s answer as accepted because it brings an interesting insight into the problem. Feb 8, 2013 at 20:53
  • @Andrew I agree!
    – bib
    Feb 8, 2013 at 23:04

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