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Fridge, the middle part of the word refrigerator (ok, with an extra letter...), is often used as an abbreviation (mainly in British English).

Is there a name for such words where we use an abbreviated form not from the start of the word (eg ad or advert) and not from the end of the word (eg 'phone or bus), but from the middle? Also, what are some other examples?

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    It's a type of clipping: Wikipedia suggests flu (influenza), rona (Coronavirus), tec (detective). Asking for open-ended lists of words is generally frowned upon in SE, but "what's it called" is a valid question.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 29 at 11:31
  • @StuartF - Of course. Looks like I should edit the first clause of my answer - unless you wanted to post that as one? Jun 29 at 11:35
  • I think that lists that will include almost certainly less than 10 elements are not overly open-ended. // @Stuart, Wikipedia doesn't include a specific form of clipping, as you hint at by default. I suppose it's the opposite of medial clipping ... 'fore-and-aft' clipping. 'Liz' is another example. Jun 29 at 11:40
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    "Fridge" is commonly used in the US as well.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 29 at 12:33

2 Answers 2

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This Wikipedia article attests:

Word formation/Clipping

Clipping occurs whenever a word is shortened but nevertheless still retains its original meaning and belongs to the same word-class.

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There are four types of possible clipping processes, depending on which part of the word undergoes structural changes:

  • back-clipping (temperature — temp, rhino — rhinoceros, gym — gymnasium),
  • fore-clipping (helicopter — copter, telephone — phone, plane, aeroplane),
  • mixed clipping (influenza — flu, refrigerator — fridge) [Elizabeth — Liz, and (after Crystal) (from the compound) french fried potatoes — fries],
  • clipping-compounds (paratrooper — parachute + trooper).

It seems to merge medial clipping in the superset 'mixed clipping'. But this is obviously the correct set for the abbreviations involved here.

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  • Sorry, I don't understand what your insertion "after Crystal" means. Jun 29 at 19:19
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    @MarcInManhattan: I believe that "after" means something like "[this example is] due to", and "Crystal" probably refers to David Crystal, author of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language.
    – ruakh
    Jun 29 at 23:54
  • @ruakh Oh yes, that must be it! Jun 30 at 1:19
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Stuart and Edwin have identified the term "clipping". One example that's coming to mind is "still" when used as a noun for a piece of equipment used in distillation.

But there's some discussion that this might not be happening with "fridge". Another possibility is that it's from the first part of the name "Frigidaire", which suggests a U.S. brand-based origin (and which has that "d" in it), though the first link mentions at least one instance of " 'friges' " (with apostrophes or possibly single quotes) before the name was adopted by the company.

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    @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. - "Was"? Probably, but I wasn't sure how the discussion was going to play out. "Is"? Almost certainly, though I'm still intrigued that it seems to be the US sources that suggest it's mostly British, while others suggest US influence if not origin. Currently the only thing that would stop a question upvote would be if I felt it might look like it wasn't my idea. Jun 30 at 9:27

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