What is the opposite of "abbreviation"?

For example, if ELL is an abbreviation for English Language Learners,
then English Language Learners is a(n) _______ for ELL.

I'm looking for a word that will work for all abbreviations, not just acronyms, so another example would be: if abbr. is an abbreviation for abbreviation, then abbreviation is a(n) _______ for abbr.

  • Does it matter that your example is for an acronym, not an abbreviation? – bishop Dec 25 '13 at 21:28
  • 1
    @bishop You are right, it is an acronym. I see acronyms as a subset of abbreviations, and I'm looking for an antonym that will work for abbreviations as well. – IQAndreas Dec 26 '13 at 3:05
  • @bishop: Many would claim that ELL isn't an acronym if it's pronounced 'ee-ell-ell', but rather an initialism. The strict definition for 'acronym' insists that the abbreviation has been accepted into the lexicon as an uncapitalised word in its own right, for example radar, laser and scuba, though many people consider all abbreviations pronounced as words, such as ISA and NATO, to be acronyms. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 26 '13 at 12:11
  • @EdwinAshworth: Whose strict definition? My googling only required an acronym be comprised of initial letters. Around here, "ELL" is pronounced as a single syllable. ell.stackexchange.com might clear it up officially. – bishop Dec 26 '13 at 14:00
  • @bishop: Wiktionary states: 'Acronyms are treated as words in their own right and are written in lower case (such as scuba or radar).' Though the article isn't consistent, this spells out the 'strict' definition. The 'loose' definition would include say TNT and BBC, as the article states. The 'intermediate' definition includes radar, RAM, but not BBC. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 26 '13 at 18:45

I'd go with expansion if I were forced to fill in the blank (although I'm more comfortable with expansion of than expansion for). You can expand an acronym.

However, it would be more usual to say:

What does ELL stand for?


ELL stands for English Language Learners.

Especially in non-technical contexts, stand for sounds more natural to my ear.


It is called the full form of an abbreviation.

  • Googling abbreviation "full form" seems to corroborate this from several, though perhaps not official, sources. – bishop Dec 25 '13 at 21:44
  • This is what I thought of too, but I suppose I've been conditioned by this. – Mr.Wizard Dec 26 '13 at 11:03

I've always gone with the somewhat lengthy but accurate "long form."

  • Well, it would be rather inappropriate if the "long form" had a short name, wouldn't it? – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Dec 26 '13 at 5:37
  • @Avner Shahar-Kashtan: How could it be shorter than the abbreviation? – Edwin Ashworth Dec 26 '13 at 22:54

I would just say that the long form is the meaning of the short form.

Q. What does abbr. mean?

A. abbr. is an abbreviation -- it means abbreviation.


The opposite of abbreviation is elaboration.


Could it be augmentation?

The action or process of making or becoming greater in size or amount.

protected by RegDwigнt Mar 16 '14 at 0:25

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