For example:

  • Icy → IC

  • Excel → XL

  • Easy → EZ*

* This spelling is based upon the U.S.A's. more recent pronunciation of the letter Z, which is /ziː/, rather than the British style /zed/. Compare with the pronunciation of easy, which is /iːzi/ in both regions. See: O.A.L.D.

  • 3
    I have heard this called "textspeak", as it is used to save characters when writing texts. But "textspeak" also covers "pls" for "please", which I don't think matches your question. – AndyT Aug 7 '17 at 8:17
  • @AndyT These examples could all come under textspeak I think. The "rules" are pretty vague. – Max Williams Aug 7 '17 at 8:20
  • Hmm. EZ is pronounced E-zed. – Andrew Leach Aug 7 '17 at 8:22
  • 1
    @AndrewLeach Only by wilfully pedantic British people, surely. – Max Williams Aug 7 '17 at 8:23
  • I recall a series of cartoons about this ... I M N D L F 8 R – GEdgar Aug 7 '17 at 12:54

Such a word is called a gramogram, also spelled grammagram, or letteral word. They are a subset of rebuses, as Stefan mentioned.

Wikipedia specifically describes a gramogram as

a letter or group of letters which can be pronounced to form one or more words

This may seem to indicate that only the combinations of letters may be called gramograms, but three (1, 2, 3) references on the page use gramogram to describe the words themselves.

Note that neither spelling of gramogram appears in the OED and only draw just over 5000 Google results combined (see gramogram results; grammagram results). So it does not appear to be a widely recognized term.

However, I did find two relevant results used in books, both by Rod L. Evans


They are technically abbreviations. You could also call them a form of sensational spelling - "the deliberate spelling of a word in an incorrect or non-standard way for special effect". This would apply if used in the name of a product, for example, like "EZ-Fit": https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ez-fit

  • Not close enough for an 'answer'. AndyT shows above how such a response can be made. He correctly used a comment as 'textspeak' is a hypernym rather than a strict equivalent. Sensational spelling has been covered before, and as for abbreviations ... – Edwin Ashworth Aug 7 '17 at 9:42

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