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In conversation I used the phrase "for short" in the context:

"I will call you blank for short."

I know I've heard the phrase before, but I'm wondering if it is actually acceptable English? If not, what is the correct alternative?

EDIT for clarification:

The structure of the phrase seems uncommon to me (maybe I'm wrong). The preposition-adjective structure doesn't seem to have many examples. However, the reverse structure seems to have multiple examples.

  • 2
    Acceptable to whom? It's certainly acceptable to the millions of speakers who use it every day. – Nate Eldredge Jul 18 '14 at 1:24
  • @NateEldredge Is it slang or is it proper English? Is there an alternative? – Ben.12 Jul 18 '14 at 1:31
  • @Ben.12 according to what will you define "proper" English? – curiousdannii Jul 18 '14 at 2:40
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OED definition 21 B I 1c under short says...

for short: as an abbreviation.

Their first citation is 1845, but it's perhaps worth pointing out that two out of their three citations have the idiomatic term in 'scare quotes'. So although OED don't actually say it's informal, colloquial, I think it's fair to assume it's in that general area.

As per these examples from thefreedictionary, there's also the "reverse" form...

He's called Ed for short.
Ed is short for Edward.

2

You haven't explained why you have doubts regarding the general acceptability of the expression, but as a native speaker I can confidently inform you that no cloud of latent or overt disapproval hangs over it as far as most speakers of English are concerned.

In addition, the possible alternatives I can think of for your query sentence are all much more long-winded or awkward:

"To keep things simple, I'm gonna call you blank"

"I think I'll just call you blank"

"Why don't we just go with blank?"

"If it also works for you, I'm just going to call you blank"

"How about blank? Is blank good for you?"

For a descriptive passage, succinct and elegant alternatives are also in short supply:

1) The Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum (or Q.E.D. for short) is traditionally placed in its abbreviated form at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument when what was specified in the enunciation and setting-out has been exactly restated as the conclusion of the demonstration.

2) The Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum (usually abbreviated to Q.E.D.) is traditionally placed in its abbreviated form at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument when what was specified in the enunciation and setting-out has been exactly restated as the conclusion of the demonstration.

3) The Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum (which by convention, is normally abbreviated to Q.E.D.) is traditionally placed in its abbreviated form at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument when what was specified in the enunciation and setting-out has been exactly restated as the conclusion of the demonstration.

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It is a widely accepted phrase, therefore it is by definition correct, even if it seems formally questionable. It isn't considered slang, it's just an expression that has become standardized. (And, paradoxically, is sometimes used even if the nickname is longer than the person's actual name.)

Alternatives: replacing "for short" with "as a nickname" (which is more formally correct but sounds awkward to me), or restructuring the sentence -- "Is it OK if I call you _?" would not only avoid this question but be more polite.

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