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What's the difference between these two words, abbreviation and abbreviature?

  • The one you want is "abbreviation". The other is obsolete/archaic. – Charles Apr 15 '11 at 16:47
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"Abbreviature" appears to have two purposes: an outdated synonym of "abbreviation" and an entirely additional meaning:

An abridgment; a compendium or abstract.

"This is an excellent abbreviature of the whole duty of a Christian. - Jeremy Taylor"

(wiktionary)

So the current difference is that "abbreviature" applies to large bodies of works or an entire subject; "abbreviation" is more applicable to words and phrases.

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Abbreviation is a common English word which normally means a shortened form of a written word or phrase.

Abbreviature is a far rarer word (somewhat technical and/or archaic, in my opinion) that normally means a condensed version of something significantly longer than just a word or phrase. An abstract, summary, or digest of an instruction manual, for example.

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