This week’s language term, abbreviation, is a little impatient. Why spend a lot of time and effort on something when it can be done quickly and efficiently? He always knows how to find the shortest way and prefers not to spend a cent too much. But he always does this to help others: he assumes that they would rather spend their time elsewhere.


An abbreviation is a way of writing down a longer word or series of words in a shortened form.

There is a wide variation in the use of upper and lower case letters in abbreviations. The same applies to whether or not to use periods after and/or in the abbreviation. One or more notations may be established for various abbreviations.


There are several ways to create abbreviated spelling, and they all fall under the umbrella term “abbreviation”. We list a few of them.

Purely written abbreviations

You do not pronounce these abbreviations as they appear. Instead, just say the words the abbreviation stands for.

  • What is your view on this problem?
  • Blokker will contact you tomorrow .
  • See page134 for more explanation.

When you read these sentences out loud, just say “regarding”, “doctor” and “page”. And not “embeetee”, “drr” or “bluz”.

There isn’t really a technical term for these kinds of abbreviations; they are sometimes referred to as “’real’ abbreviations” or “abbreviations in the narrow sense”.

Initial words

An initial word is made up of the first letters of the words in the abbreviated text, and these are also pronounced as single letters.

  • ‘Hello goodbye’ is a program by KRO-NCRV.
  • This scandal is a great embarrassment to the college of B and W.
  • My toiletis clogged again.

You can also create an initial word, including the initial letters of a word part in a compound word:

  • KLM stands for Royal Aviation Company.


An acronym is also made up of the first letters of the abbreviated words, but you pronounce it as if it were a word itself (and it is!).

  • Our son is in high school.
    [ higher general education ] _ _
  • We have switched to LED
    [ light and mittingdiode ]
  • Did you know that Dirk has contracted an STD?
    [ sexually tolerable disease ]

Some acronyms have become so common that not everyone knows what the letters actually stand for anymore. Do you know the ingredients of GIF (or gif ) – you know, those funny repetitive mini-movies you get thrown to death on the internet? ( hint )


This is an umbrella term that includes both initials and acronyms: all abbreviations formed with the initial letters of the omitted words. In a somewhat broader definition, you can also include syllable words (see below).

Sometimes a narrower definition is used in which only acronyms count as “true” acronyms. But here at Taaleidoscoop we don’t exclude initial words and syllable words.

Syllable words

A syllable word, like an initial word or acronym, is made up of the opening letters of the words it stands for, but it takes the first two (or more) letters of each word instead of just the very first letter. Often there is a vowel next to it, so that each of the constituent words contributes a syllable to the syllable word – hence the name.

  • Pim works in the hospitality industry .
    [ hotel, restaurant , cafe ]
  • Shall we go get some fries at FEBO ?
    [named after FerdinandBol Street ]
  • The Beneluxis a popular holiday area.
    [ Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg ]

Here too, as with the initial word, you can use ingredients from a word part when making a syllable word, even if it is not at the beginning of the written word:

  • Covid stands for corona virus virus infection .


With an abbreviation you do not use individual letters from the constituent words as substitutes, but you omit part of the letters from a word – usually it is also one word.

  • Shall we go to the cinematonight ?
  • The US President ‘s helicopteris sometimes referred to as “Marine One.”
  • I think my car battery is dead.

As you can see, no initial letters have been recycled here, but the second part of the word bios[coop], heli[kopter] and accu[mulator] has simply been omitted.

You can also shorten it by cutting out other parts of the word, such as the middle letters. Think of the titles dr. for d[okte]r and ir. for i[ngenieu]r.

Sometimes the spelling of the abbreviation gets a slightly modified spelling or an extra sound. Think of buuf for “neighbor” and combo for “combination”.


Symbols also count as abbreviations. They often come from a technical, economic, legal or scientific context.

  • for
  • ©for
  • $for


This language term says exactly what it stands for. An abbreviation is shorter than the word or words it stands for.

  • af (adverb of deletion) + short + -ing (suffix to form a noun)

Do you know

Grammatically, an abbreviation applies as a word. That is why you can make diminutives with it ( pc’tje, accuutje), but also derivations ( mavoër, DVDs ), verbs ( texting, appen ), etc.

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