What would the hypernym of acronym, abbreviation, and symbol be? I know that abbreviation is a hypernym for Initialism and Acronym, but is there a word that includes abbreviation and symbols, I'm referring to mathematical symbols mostly. Somthing like xmin instead of the longer term: The minimum value of x.

The reason I think such a word might exist is because there is some amount of overlap between the terms: They are all a set of terms that can be used to shorten and simplify a more difficult to read term.

It is for the name of a chapter that lists all the above used in a thesis, and I did not think glossary quite covered it.


The word will be combined with Nomenclature in the title, i.e. “Hypernym and Nomenclature”. Previously this question asked for a Hypernym of all of acronym, abbreviation, symbols and nomenclature. However, it was pointed out that this question was too broad, and the inclusion of nomenclature probably made it impossible to answer, that there was little overlap between the nomenclature and the other three terms.

  • "Glossary" is probably the best you can do for your list. It's not a "hypernym", but it basically means "list of terms", and "terms" is about as close to a hypernym as you'll get. – Hot Licks Mar 7 '17 at 2:07
  • Terms, and glossary as a collection of terms, is probably the best suggestion thus far. Make that an answer and I'll accept it. – tmgriffiths Mar 7 '17 at 3:47
  • If we are talking about definitions rather than, say, a linguistic distinction between initialisms and acronyms, then why isn't "nomenclature" the hypernym? – Yorik Mar 7 '17 at 22:49
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    Perhaps you could call it Terminology – Jim Aug 5 '17 at 6:15
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's asking for a hypernym for almost certainly non-comparable terms. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 13 '17 at 15:20

An acronym is a kind of abbreviation. A symbol and abbreviation are both representations or short forms (one an image the other still text) of the original. Nomenclature is an alternate form, but not necessarily short.

There is some overlap between the terms, but there is some that is not. Finding the right word here might be a case of looking at what you are excluding rather than including. If you are referring only to shortened words, the 'shortened forms' (or 'short forms') is probably the most fitting.

Otherwise, going the other way and being broad enough to cover everything, 'alternate forms' or 'terminology' may work.

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    Hello. anon. I'd missed this question; I think the only correct course of action is to close-vote; the inclusion of 'nomenclature' seems only just short of the inclusion of 'noun'. Robbie Goodwin pointed out the almost certain non-availability of an answer here. Doing it using different words doesn't add much. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 13 '17 at 15:19

Sorry to point this out but it's not that 'glossary' doesn't quite cover it. 'Glossary' doesn't begin to cover it and nothing else could, either.

Please reconsider the meanings of acronym, abbreviation, nomenclature, and symbol, how they overlap and how they differ. Within their overlap they might in theory share a hypernym but how otherwise? If all four terms were broadly synonymous there might be a case; else, not.

To what extend are all four terms even synonymous, please?

What difference did you think it would make whether you had a chapter in need of a name or a list looking for members or whether either or both was to be used in a thesis, or otherwise?

  • Acronym, abbreviation, nomenclature, and symbol all represent broadly a set of (usually shorter) terms that are used in place of a more difficult to read or longer word or phrase. They are not synonymous, but they are related and do overlap. Nothing is synonymous if you approach it with sufficiently fine detail or from a narrow technical perspective. A single word or simple phrase would suit a chapter title better than a longer phrase or sentence. A longer name (perhaps with an acronym, abbreviation or symbol to refer to them quickly… ) would be ok if refering to the set. – tmgriffiths Mar 7 '17 at 3:44
  • I'm voting against this answer because while it is not a word for this as far as I know, the word shorthand puts a hole in your rationale by suggesting that these are more closely related than you suggest, which as of yet is your sole rationale for suggesting the word doesn't exist. If you can come up with a more persuasive rationale to edit into the answer, please ping me so I can consider retracting the vote. – Tonepoet Aug 5 '17 at 3:03
  • That definition I provided above where symbols are just pictured is different from the one I provide down here, where symbols are = mentioned by name. The discrepancy is because of a different revision of the dictionary after checking against website with another set of scans from the C.D.C's. 1914 printing.. Symbols are mentioned by name there, albeit not expressly nomenclature. Perhaps you could use that to your advantage to suggest that it is unreasonable to have a word for all four in an edit, but the gist of the request still seems reasonable. – Tonepoet Aug 6 '17 at 11:11
  • @tmgriffiths No; nomenclature is far broader. Collins has the very general << the terminology used in a particular science, art, activity, etc >>. The others (with the more precise definition of 'symbol' OP has now added) overlap to a far greater degree. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 14 '17 at 10:57

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