What does shortening mean? Is it different from abbreviation? I checked the dictionary, but I don't get the difference clearly.

3 Answers 3


In fact shortening is a kind of abbreviation.

According to MSN Dictionary There are four main kinds of abbreviations:

  • Shortenings of words usually consist of the first few letters of the full form and are usually spelled with a final period when they are still regarded as abbreviations

cont. = continued

bus = omnibus

taxi = taxicab

zoo = zoological garden

bike = bicycle

  • Contractions are abbreviated forms in which letters from the middle of the full form have been omitted.

Dr. = doctor

St. = saint or street

can't = cannot

didn't = did not

  • Initialisms are made up of the initial letters of words and are pronounced as separate letters.

CIA (or C.I.A.)


pm (or p.m.)

U.S. (or US)

  • Acronyms are initialisms that have become words in their own right, or similar words formed from parts of several words. They are pronounced as words rather than as a series of letters.





Please Visit this link to read more about abbreviation.


Shortening also refers to fats used for baking. Probably not what you meant, though. :)

  • Thank you for the answer. Although I was not looking for this meaning but I didn't know that.
    – user4873
    Feb 16, 2011 at 21:56
  • I was thinking exactly the same thing as you.
    – Will
    Feb 16, 2011 at 22:01
  • @Will: same here. I initially thought the OP wanted to be clear on the difference between those two meanings!
    – Jimi Oke
    Feb 17, 2011 at 0:40
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    And shortening actually abbreviates gluten molecules :) May 24, 2012 at 5:28

I have been shortening the legs on my table, but I have not been abbreviating them!