Imagine you're abbreviating a title that has a kn-word in it (e.g. Should Know).
What is the preferred way? Is it SK or SN?

  • 5
    The Gnostic Knights of Pneumatic Knowledge, aka the NNNN. Jun 15 '11 at 4:52
  • 6
    In chess notation, "Knight" is abbreviated "N", but that is only because "King" is abbreviated "K".
    – Daniel
    Jul 16 '11 at 19:13

Abbreviations are usually based on the first letters of the words they represent, and I would choose "SK" in this case (additionally "SN" is a well-known abbreviation for "Serial Number" across many different industries, so it's probably a good one to avoid when possible as well).

Consider also the word "Herbs," a word for which some people don't pronounce the letter "H" -- regardless of how this word is pronounced, an abbreviation would normally include the letter "H" to represent it (using the letter "E" would be confusing).


Kn starting a word would become K, by convention. For instance, JSYK is common shorthand for Just so you know.

  • 1
    Or IDK, AFAIK, etc. quite a few of these out there. Jun 9 '14 at 20:48

AFAIK, know is often abbreviated to K.

More generally, both phonetic and spelling-based abbreviations exist.

  • Can you give some examples of phonetic abbreviations? I can't think of any at all… Jun 9 '14 at 23:02
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet N for Knight (chess) skips a silent letter while XML for Extensible Markup Language uses the name of the letter X to represent the /ks/ sound of extensible. Much rarer than just the letter being used, though.
    – Jon Hanna
    Jun 9 '14 at 23:16
  • Ah yes. X is a good example. That one seems to be quite common, even, initial /eks/ being represented by X rather than E. Jun 10 '14 at 6:08
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: "X" is funny, since it can sometimes represent various sequences of letters. Receive/transmit abbreviates to rx/tx, but transmit shortens to xmit (and, less often, transducer is xducer, etc.) None of those are phonetic; I'm not quite sure where they came from.
    – supercat
    Aug 28 '14 at 21:42
  • @supercat They derive from the etymology of the words: trans- means ‘across’, and X is of course also a cross. The same notional use is found in Spanish, where por (‘through, via, across’) is often written x in textspeak, as in xk (= porque ‘because’ or ¿por qué? ‘why?’). Aug 28 '14 at 22:32

Abbreviations could be with the pronunciation of the word, for example, 'n' for 'and', and 'k' for 'okay'. Other such abbreviations can be seen here.

It really depends where you are. If you are texting, then maybe 'N', if you are putting it as a message, probably either, if you are putting it as the name of something, probably 'K'.

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