How do you describe words that begin/end with an apostrophe?

For example:

Beginning with ': 'bout, 'em, 'cause

Ending with ': ol', runnin', jumpin'

  • 4
    An apostrophe simply indicates that something is missing. – WS2 Nov 25 '15 at 23:29

Those are known as contractions:

a shortened form of a word or group of words, with the omitted letters often replaced in written English by an apostrophe …

Online Dictionary

  • 1
    Hmm ... Actually, the examples OP adduces here are colloquialisms. Contractions is too broad. – Ricky Nov 26 '15 at 0:30
  • 1
    The Chicago Manual (7.31) simply lists these as contractions (e.g. words like singin'), singling out words like "gonna" and "wanna" as colloquialisms (which don't get an apostrophe because there's no obvious place to place one). – ralph.m Nov 26 '15 at 1:49
  • 1
    Down with the Chicago Manual! – Ricky Nov 26 '15 at 1:50
  • Well, the New Oxford Style Manual says the same thing. :p – ralph.m Nov 26 '15 at 5:46
  • Well, what can I tell you. They'll be first against the wall when the revolution comes. – Ricky Nov 26 '15 at 6:02

I think they are not contractions. I believe they are elisions:


  • Can they not be both? – sumelic Nov 26 '15 at 4:47
  • If you compare the Wikipedia examples of elisions with contractions, you'll see that the examples above more closely resemble the examples of contractions than of elisions. – ralph.m Nov 26 '15 at 5:49
  • My understanding is that contractions are "grammar"--governed by widely accepted standards that apply to both written and spoken language--while elisions are "linguistics," having more to do with pronunciation, morphemes, etc. Many of these are universal (we do not pronounce the "-ed" in "marked," for example, but rather say "markt"). Likewise, we may say "ol'" instead of "old," but, unless we're conveying dialect, we would never elide that "d" when writing. Elisions vary by region, contractions much less so. What's above still look like elisions to me. – user66965 Nov 26 '15 at 15:44

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