I remember being taught this by my Literature teacher in school long ago but I can't remember the actual term, maybe complicated sounding like 'onomatopoeia'.

I don't mean apostrophes e.g. wouldn't.

An example is: elongated = long, where the second word can be formed by removing certain letters from the first word, and retain somewhat the original meaning.

A list of such words would also be cute.

  • some other examples: terminology = term, commentary = comment, another = other.
    – tech
    Jun 8, 2015 at 5:47
  • Tushar's suggestion does not fit. Read the article, kangaroo words are words which contain new words, like a Russian doll, or matrioska. english.stackexchange.com/questions/105107/…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 8, 2015 at 9:05
  • 3
    You may also be thinking of 'abbreviation'? For example, where 'Professor' becomes 'Prof.' Jun 8, 2015 at 9:58
  • 2
    'Elongated = long' is a contraction of the original word. Jun 8, 2015 at 10:18
  • The term masculine "contains" the word male if you take out the letters -s, -c, -u, -i, and-n-. Taking "out" letters is not the same as shortening a word. An example: advertisement can be shortened to ad. I have also provided kangaroo as an answer in the past, so I'm quite familiar with the term.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 9, 2015 at 5:52

2 Answers 2


...where the second word can be formed by removing certain letters from the first word

They're called Kangaroo words. The small synonyms are joeys.

From wikipedia:

A kangaroo word is a word that contains letters of another word, in order, with the same meaning. For example: the word masculine contains the word male, which is a synonym of the first word; similarly, the word observe contains its synonym see.

  • 2
    I know the OP accepted this, but this isn't the answer, not to the question as it is posed. "a shortened, contracted version of itself" e.g. phone is the XXX version of telephone.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 8, 2015 at 9:02
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA: " where the second word can be formed by removing certain letters from the first word" This is what made me answer
    – Tushar Raj
    Jun 8, 2015 at 9:04
  • 1
    @OwenBlacker: While in grade school, I found this awesome book in my library which had really cool terms for words with 'intriguing' properties. Like kangaroo words and beheadments
    – Tushar Raj
    Jun 8, 2015 at 12:58
  • 1
    @TusharRaj Another term (and concept) I have never encountered before. What a great term. Thank you! :) Jun 8, 2015 at 13:13
  • 1
    +1.... for bringing to fame-a term-langushing in obscurity.
    – Misti
    Jun 8, 2015 at 14:23

The terms shortening (make or become shorter), contractions, truncations, and abbreviation (a shortened form of a word or phrase) are often used interchangeably.

Take for example the word advertisement it can be shortened (or abbreviated) in two ways
(1) advert (an advertisement) or (2) ad (an advertisement)

Another example, romantic comedy (A film or play that deals with love in a light, humorous way)
The two words are often shortened or contracted as romcom

romcom; informal
(In film or television) a romantic comedy.

The word romcom is formed by joining the first syllable of each word: rom and com together. In linguistics this process of combining syllables or two existing words together is called blending. Examples of blend words are: brunch (br+unch) which is breakfast and lunch combined, camcorder (cam+corder) which is formed from camera and recorder; and escalator (escala+tor) from escalate and elevator.

When parts of words are omitted, with no loss in meaning, it is known as clipping

In linguistics, clipping is the word formation process which consists in the reduction of a word to one of its parts (Marchand: 1969). Clipping is also known as "truncation" or "shortening."
According to Marchand (1969), clippings are not coined as words belonging to the standard vocabulary of a language. They originate as terms of a special group like schools, army, police, the medical profession, etc., in the intimacy of a milieu where a hint is sufficient to indicate the whole. For example, exam(ination), math(ematics), and lab(oratory) originated in school slang; spec(ulation) and tick(et = credit) in stock-exchange slang; and vet(eran) and cap(tain) in army slang.

(emphasis mine)

The above in bold type are also examples of final clipping, or apocope, wherein the endings of a word are literally chopped off. Further examples are:

  • photograph > photo
  • English animation > Japanese アニメーション animēshon > アニメ anime
  • street credential > street cred
  • magazine > mag

When the initial letters, syllables or sounds are omitted from a word this is called apheresis

Also spelled apheresis. Adjective: aphetic. Also called ‘syllabic loss’ or ‘initial vowel loss’.
Common examples of aphaeresis include round (from around), specially (from especially), and spy (from espy). Note that the deleted initial sound is usually a vowel.

"Aphaeresis has given us a number of new words, like drawing-room (from withdrawing-room), fend (from defend; whence fender), sport (from disport), and stain (from distain). A number are aphetic in the narrow sense: pert (from now obsolete apert, going back ultimately to Latin appertus 'open'), peal (from appeal), mend (from amend), fray (from affray), the verb ply (from apply), the adjective live (from alive), spy (from espy), and tend (from both attend and intend). In the above cases, significant semantic development followed the aphaeresis, so that one does not normally connect in one's mind the shortened and the original longer forms."

(The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories, 1991)

Can “sitcom” be considered an “acronym” [...]?
What is the name for the process which turned “iced cream” into “ice cream”?
Is IOU an abbreviation, an acronym, or an initialism?
Name for an inexact abbreviation
Why is “coon” a word?

  • +1 for a very informative post. However, I still think the OP had 'Kangaroo words' in mind and couldn't think of better examples.
    – Tushar Raj
    Jun 9, 2015 at 7:00
  • @TusharRaj Quote: "a word shortened or contracted form of itself", no mention of synonyms anywhere. If you had also included abbreviations and shortenings in your answer, I wouldn't have felt so niggled.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 9, 2015 at 11:54
  • Maybe not in the title, but the post does say retain somewhat the original meaning. 'Somewhat', not exact. Ergo, synonyms. Also, I didn't include words like abbreviations because it was too basic; not something the OP could have forgotten. I had a hunch he was talking about kangaroo words on reading the post, which, admittedly, lacks clarity. The OP accepted pretty soon, so I didn't offer more suggestions. I really hope you stop feeling niggled.
    – Tushar Raj
    Jun 9, 2015 at 12:57

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