Looking to figure out where the abbreviation "v." originates from.

I know "v." was heavily used in "Bridget Jones Diary," but that movie came out over a decade ago and was British.

  • What are the origins?
  • Why are Americans suddenly adopting this usage?
  • I'm a native AmE speaker, any the only times I ever see "v." used is where space is at a premium: Twitter, txts, titles of Ebay or other online auctions, etc. I've also seen it sometimes, less frequently, used to reduce typing effort (as in quick IMs); in those cases, the period is elided. The only time I've seen it used in a formal context is by speakers of Indian English (where it comes across as stilted, self-conscious, and a little silly to my American ears).
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 18, 2014 at 15:24
  • Movie? Bridget Jones Diary was a novel (2 million copies worldwide in its first 10 years), and a popular column in a national newspaper before that. I suspect those had more influence on written English than the movie.
    – mikeagg
    Dec 18, 2014 at 15:29
  • 1
    According to:internetslang.com/V-meaning-definition.asp, it is part of Internet slang. As such it should be used with care:)
    – user66974
    Dec 18, 2014 at 15:48
  • 1
    @Josh61, "v." has been in use long before the advent of the internet. It was used in the heydey of Victorian letter-writing (no one likes hand-cramps), later in the telegraph and telegram systems (where you paid by the length of the missive), in numismatic grading (fine, v. fine, mint), and so on. There's nothing particularly special about this particular abbreviation, except that it is commoner than most given that it's a word used with some frequency, and its context and unusual initial letter allow it to be used in situations with a very low risk of ambiguity or unclarity.
    – Dan Bron
    Dec 18, 2014 at 15:55
  • 2
    V. simple. Very starts with v, and there aren't v. many words that do. Practically none that can be used right before a variable adjective. Dec 18, 2014 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


The OED has it dating back to 1863 in The Quarterly Review:

It is said also, that the prisoners have been known to make an example of a warden who was not in their opinion sufficiently liberal with his V.G.'s (‘Very Good,’ as marked in the accounts).

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