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第325課: Abbreviations

     Abbreviations (略語) are very handy when words get lengthy. In fact, the Japanese term for abbreviation is an abbreviation. The non-abbreviated term is 省略語.


The following chart shows the most common methods of abbreviation in Japanese.

 Phrases Words
 ①First characters of each part only
 ⑤First part only
 ②First part only
 ⑥Last part only
 ③Last part only
 ⑦No ん
 ④First and last part only

Some abbreviations date back hundreds of years. For example, the 盆(ぼん) in the Obon Festival is a contraction of 盂蘭盆会(うらぼんえ).

When exposed to the West, new phrases were often abbreviated. Examples include ハンカチ from handkerchief and 五輪, which referred to the Berlin Olympics, for the Olympics.

The most commonly abbreviated words are 外来語 and 熟語. Contractions in conjugation and native words exist too. Titles in news reports have extended use of abbreviations. Of course, you will sometimes regional variation such as the contraction of McDonald's (マックドナルド): マック (East Japan) and マクド (West Japan).

 Abbreviation Kana From Type Meaning
 全銀協会 ぜんぎんきょうかい 全国銀行協会 ① Japan's Bank Association
 米 べい 米国 ⑤ America
 特急 とっきゅう 特別急行 ① Express train
 パソコン ぱそこん パソナルコンピューター ① Personal computer
 小学 しょうがく 小学校 ⑤ Elementary school
 東電 とうでん 東京電力 ① Tokyo Electric; TEPCO
 ケータイ けーたい 携帯電話 ② Cellphone
 ブログ ぶろぐ ウェブログ ③ Blog
 エンターテイメント えんたーていめんと エンターテインメント ⑦ Entertainment
 チョコ ちょこ チョコレート ⑤ Chocolate
 アイス あいす アイスコーヒー ② Ice Coffee
 レイコー れいこー アイスコーヒー ① Ice Coffee (Kansai Variant)
 京葉 けいよう 東京千葉 ③ Tokyo-Chiba/Keiyou Line
 高校 こうこう 高等学校 ④ High school
 入管 にゅうかん 入国管理局 ① Immigration office
 東大 とうだい 東京大学 ① Tokyo University
 日経 にっけい 日本経済新聞 ① Japan Economic Times
 ファミレス ふぁみれす ファミリレストラン ① Family restaurant
 ラブホ らぶほ ラブホテル ② Love hotel
 テレビ てれび テレビジョン ② Television
 OL おーえーる Office Lady ① Office lady
 国連 こくれん 国際連合 ① United Nations
 ソ連 それん ソビエト連合 ① Soviet Union
 安保理 あんぽり 安全保障理事会 ① Security Council
 取引所 とりひきしょ 証券取引所 ③ Stock exchange
 リハビリ りはびり リハビリテーション ③ Rehabilitation
 ブル ぶる ブルドーザー
 ⑤ Bulldozer; bulldog; bourgeoisie
 セクハラ せくはら セクシャルハラスメント  ① Sexual harassment

Aside from these sort of abbreviations, there are odd abbreviations of specific phrases. For instance, the phrase 半端なことではない (not half-way) is often abbreviate to 半端ない in casual speech. However, if you don't know both, the abbreviated form is difficult to understand because grammatical items were dropped. 


1. How is the name for abbreviations in Japanese ironic?

2. How are phrases abbreviated?

3. How are words abbreviated?

4. Give an example of each kind of abbreviation.

5. Search online for Japanese abbreviations and show how they came about. 

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