Crossword abbreviations

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Cryptic crosswords often use abbreviations to clue individual letters or short fragments of the overall solution. These include:

  • Any conventional abbreviations found in a standard dictionary, such as:
    • "current": AC (for "alternating current"); less commonly, DC (for "direct current"); or even I (the symbol used in physics and electronics)
  • Roman numerals: for example the word "six" in the clue might be used to indicate the letters VI
  • The name of a chemical element may be used to signify its symbol; e.g., Tungsten for W
  • Country codes: "Switzerland" can indicate the letters CH
  • ICAO spelling alphabet: where Mike signifies M and Romeo R
  • Conventional abbreviations for US cities and states: for example, New York can indicate NY and "California" CA or CAL.

The abbreviation is not always a short form of the word used in the clue. For example:

  • "Knight" for N (the symbol used in chess notation)

Taking this one stage further, the clue word can hint at the word or words to be abbreviated rather than giving the word itself. For example:

  • "About" for C or CA, abbreviations of "circa", meaning "about". "About" can also be abbreviated to RE, for "regarding".
  • "Say" for EG, used to mean "for example".

More obscure clue words of this variety include:

  • "Model" for T, referring to the Model T.
  • "Beginner" or synonyms such as "novice" or "student" for L, as in L-plate.
  • "Bend" for S or U (as in "S-bend" and "U-bend")
  • "Books" for OT or NT, as in Old Testament or New Testament.
  • "Sailor" for AB, abbreviation of able-bodied.
  • "Take" for R, abbreviation of the Latin word recipe, meaning "take".

Clues beginning with A[edit]

Clues beginning with B[edit]

Clues beginning with C[edit]

  • Calcium - ca
  • California - ca
  • Car - t (Model T), rr (Rolls-Royce)
  • Care of - co
  • Caught - c or ct
  • Celsius - c
  • Cent - c
  • Centigrade - c
  • Century - c
  • Certificate - x, u, pg, r, g (from the film certificates)
  • Chartered accountant - ca
  • Chief - ch
  • Chlorine - cl (chemical symbol)
  • Chromosome - x or y
  • Church - ch or ce (Church of England)or rc(Roman Catholic)
  • Circa - c
  • Circle - o (the letter O is a circle)
  • City - ny (New York), la (Los Angeles), or ec (postcode for City of London)
  • Club - y (YMCA)
  • Coin - p (penny), d (from the Latin denarius) or c (cent) - d or c would usually have "old" or "American" as well as "coin".
  • Colonel - col
  • Colt - c
  • Communist - red
  • Companion - CH (Order of the Companions of Honour)
  • Company - co
  • Compare - cf (abbreviation of the Latin confer)
  • Compass point - n, e, s, w (and other bearings)
  • Computer - pc
  • Conservationists - nt (National Trust)
  • Conservative - c, con
  • Constable - pc (police constable)
  • Constant - or pi (mathematical constants)
  • Copper - p (penny), d (denarius), cu (chemical symbol), pc (police constable)
  • Corner - SE,NW,NE,SW (Any two direction)
  • Councillor - cl, clr, cllr
  • Court - ct
  • Credit - cr
  • Criminal - con
  • Cross - x
  • Current - ac (alternating current), dc (direct current), ad (Anno Domini) or amp
  • Current account - ca
  • Cystic fibrosis - cf

Clues beginning with D[edit]

  • Date - d
  • Daughter - d
  • Dead or Died - d, dec (deceased), ex, ob (abbreviation)
  • Debts - ious (IOU)
  • Deceased - d, dec, ex
  • Decoration - vc (Victoria Cross), gc (George Cross)
  • Degree - deg, c (Celsius or Centigrade), f (Fahrenheit), ba (Bachelor of Arts), ma (Master of Arts).
  • Detectives - cid
  • Detective inspector - di
  • Deutschmark - dm
  • Direction - n, e, s, w (and other compass bearings)
  • Disc - o (the letter O is round, like a disc), ep (extended play record), lp (long play record), cd (compact disc)
  • Disease - tb, me
  • Doctor of Divinity - dd
  • Doctor - doc, bm (Bachelor of Medicine), mb (Medicinae Baccalaureus), md (Medicinae Doctor), mo (medical officer), gp (General Practitioner), dr
  • Drip - iv (intravenous drip)
  • Drug - c (cocaine), e, x (both short for ecstasy) or h (heroin)
  • Dry - tt (teetotal) or aa (Alcoholics Anonymous)
  • Duck - o (from the cricket score of 0)

Clues beginning with E[edit]

  • Each - ea
  • East - e
  • East Germany - gdr (German Democratic Republic)
  • Ecstasy - e or x (slang names for the drug)
  • Editor - ed
  • Egg - o (the letter O loosely resembles the shape of an egg)
  • Electricity - ac (alternating current), dc (direct current)
  • Eleven - ll (II looks similar to 11), or xi (Roman numerals)
  • Energy - e, j (joule)
  • Engineer - ce (civil engineer) or re (Royal Engineer) or me (mechanical engineer)
  • English - e
  • Escape - esc
  • Established - est
  • Estimated time of arrival - eta
  • Europe - eu (European Union), ec (European Community)
  • Exercise - pe (physical education), pt (physical training), train
  • Extra - w (from the extra runs in cricket for a wide ball)
  • Extra large - xl
  • Extra terrestrial - et

Clues beginning with F[edit]

  • Fahrenheit - f
  • Father - da, dad, fr, pa
  • Female - f
  • Fighter plane - mig (type of plane)
  • Firm - co (company)
  • Fifty - l (Roman numeral (lower case L))
  • Five - v (Roman numeral)
  • Fleet - rn (Royal Navy)
  • Flying bomb - vi (looks like V1)
  • Following - f
  • Football association - fa
  • Football club - fc
  • For example - e.g. (short for the Latin exempli gratia)
  • Former - ex
  • Four - iv (Roman Numeral)
  • France - f
  • French - la,le,les,un (one in French), DE
  • Frenchman - m (Monsieur)
  • Friend - pal

Clues beginning with G[edit]

  • Game - ru (Rugby Union)
  • Gas - h (hydrogen), o (oxygen), n (nitrogen), cs (tear gas)
  • German submarine - u (U-boat)
  • Germany - ger, d (Deutschland)
  • Glasses - oo
  • Gold - au (chemical symbol), or (in heraldry)
  • Good - pi (pious)
  • Good Man - st (abbreviation for Saint)
  • Graduate - ba, ma (university degrees)
  • Gram - g
  • Grand prix - gp
  • Grand - g, m (Roman numeral for 1000), k (kilo-)
  • Group - gp
  • Gunners/Gunmen - ra (Royal Artillery)
  • Gym - pe (Physical Education) or pt (Physical Training)

Clues beginning with H[edit]

  • Hand - n, e, s, w (Bridge hands)
  • Hear - t (Position on hearing aid)
  • Hectare - ha
  • Helium - he
  • Heroin - h
  • Hire purchase - hp
  • Holy man - st (saint)
  • Home counties - se (South-east of England)
  • Honours - ba or ma (see Degree)
  • Horse - g, gg (slang)
  • Hospital - h
  • Hospital Department - ae (Accident & Emergency)
  • Hour - h
  • Houses of Parliament - hp
  • Hundred - c (Roman numeral)
  • Husband - h
  • Hydrogen - h

Clues beginning with I[edit]

  • Iceland - is (country code)
  • Inch - in
  • Information - gen
  • Information technology - it
  • Intelligence - iq
  • Iodine - i (chemical symbol)
  • Ireland - ire
  • Irish Republican Army - ira
  • Iron - fe (chemical symbol)
  • Initials - inits.

Clues beginning with J[edit]

  • Jack - j, tar, ab (sailor)
  • Jet - mig (type of plane)
  • Jolly - rm (Royal Marine)
  • Journalist - ed (editor)
  • Judge - j, ref
  • Junction - t (T-junction)
  • Junior - jr

Clues beginning with K[edit]

  • Kelvin - k
  • Kentucky - ky
  • Key - a, b, c, d, e, f or g (musical keys)
  • Kick off - ko
  • Kilo - k
  • King - k, r (from the Latin rex), hm (His Majesty), or hrh (His Royal Highness), or gr (King George (rex), or cr (King Charles))
  • Kiss - x (the symbol for a kiss)
  • Knave - j (Jack)
  • Knight - k, kt, kbe (Knight Commander of the British Empire) or kg (Knight of the Garter) or n(The symbol for a knight on a chessboard)
  • Knock out - ko
  • Knot - kt

Clues beginning with L[edit]

  • Labour - lab
  • Lake - l or la
  • Large number - c, d, m (Roman numerals) or k (kilo-)
  • Last month - ult (ultimo)
  • Lawrence - dh (D. H. Lawrence) or te (T. E. Lawrence)
  • Lead - pb (chemical symbol)
  • Learner - l
  • Left - l
  • Liberal - l or lib
  • Lieutenant - lt
  • Lines - ry (railway) br (British Rail)
  • Litre - l
  • Local area network - lan
  • Long playing record - lp
  • Long wave - lw
  • Loud - f (forte), or ff (fortissimo)
  • Los Angeles - la
  • Love - o (zero score in tennis)

Clues beginning with M[edit]

  • Maiden - m (cricket terminology for no runs in an over)
  • Male - m, he or pa
  • Madame (As in French) - mme
  • Manager - mic (man in charge)
  • Many - CL, XD... (A collection of at least 2 Roman numerals)
  • Map-makers - os (Ordnance Survey)
  • Marines - rm (Royal Marines)
  • Married - m
  • Master of ceremonies - mc
  • Medal - vc (Victoria Cross), gc (George Cross), obe (Order of the British Empire), om (Order of Merit)
  • Medic - doc (short for doctor), bm (Bachelor of Medicine), mb (Medicinae Baccalaureus), md (Medicinae Doctor), mo (medical officer), gp (General Practitioner), dr (short for doctor)
  • Master of Arts - ma
  • Master's - ma (Master of Arts degree)
  • Megabyte - mb
  • Member - mp (same as Member of Parliament (below))
  • Member of Parliament - mp
  • Messerschmitt - me
  • Middle East - me
  • Midfielder - l (the 'mid' letter of 'fielder')
  • Military Police - mp
  • Ministry of Defence - mod
  • Minute - m
  • Model - t (Model T Ford)
  • Monarch - er (Elizabeth Regina), gr (George Rex), q (queen), k (king) or r (rex/regina)
  • Monsieur - m
  • Morning or Half Day - am
  • Mother - ma
  • Motorway - m or mi (looks like M1)

Clues beginning with N[edit]

  • National Trust - nt
  • Navy - rn (Royal Navy), abs (able-bodied seamen) or tars (slang for seamen)
  • Nazis - ss (Schutzstaffel)
  • Neon - ne (chemical symbol)
  • Never-never - hp (synonym for hire purchase)
  • New - n
  • New Testament - nt
  • Nitrogen - n
  • No ball - nb (cricket terminology)
  • North - n
  • Not applicable - na
  • Note - nb (from the Latin nota bene) or a, b, c, d, e, f, g (musical notes) or Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si (musical notes). However La is commonly referred.
  • Nothing - o (the letter O looks like the number 0)
  • Now - ad (from the Latin Anno Domini)
  • Number - v, x, c, d, m, l (Roman numerals)

Clues beginning with O[edit]

  • Odds - sp (starting price)
  • Officer - oc (Officer Corps) or co (Commanding Officer)
  • Old - o
  • Old person - oap
  • Old Testament - ot
  • One - i (I is the Roman numeral for 1) or rarely a, an (not normally used in British crosswords), ace (playing card)
  • Operating system - os
  • Operation - op
  • Order - om (Order of Merit)
  • Ordinary Seaman - os
  • Oriental - e (East)
  • Ounce - oz (abbreviation)
  • Other Ranks - or (military term for non-commissioned ranks)
  • Outsized - os
  • Over the top - ott
  • Overdose - od
  • Oxygen - o

Clues beginning with P[edit]

  • Page - p
  • Painters - ra (Royal Academy)
  • Paramilitaries - eta (Basque Nationalists), ira (Irish Republican Army), uff (Ulster Freedom Fighters), uda (Ulster Defence Association)
  • Parking - p
  • Party - lab, lib, con or c (Political Parties)
  • Peacekeepers - un (United Nations)
  • Pencil - hb
  • Penny - p, d (old penny), cu (copper)
  • Phone company - bt
  • Physical education - pe
  • Physical training - pt
  • Piano - p
  • Plane - mig (type of plane)
  • Plate - l or p (L-plate and P-plate)
  • Poem - if (Kipling)
  • Poet - ts (T.S. Eliot)
  • Point - n, e, s, w (and other compass bearings)
  • Pole - n (north) or s (south)
  • Policeman/men - pc (Police Constable), di (Detective Inspector), met (Metropolitan Police), cid (Criminal Investigation Department)
  • Politician - mp
  • Posh - u (short for upper class)
  • Post office - po
  • Potassium - k (chemical symbol)
  • Pound - lb (weight)
  • Priest - pr, rev (reverend), rr (Right Reverend), dd (Doctor of Divinity), fr (Father), eli (Eli (Bible))
  • Prime Minister - pm
  • Prisoner of war - pow
  • Promises - ious (I owe yous)
  • Province - ni (Northern Ireland)
  • Pub - ph (Public House)

Clues beginning with Q[edit]

  • Quarter - n, s, e, w (compass direction)
  • Queen - q, er (Elizabeth Regina), hm (Her Majesty)
  • Quiet/quietly - p (piano)

Clues beginning with R[edit]

  • Railway - r, ry or br (British Rail)
  • Rechabite - tt (Rechabite - tee-total)
  • Record - ep (extended play record), lp (long playing record)
  • Ref - ump (referee - umpire)
  • Regina - r
  • Retired - ret
  • Reverend - rr (Right Reverend), dd (Doctor of Divinity), rev
  • Rex - r
  • Right Reverend - rr
  • Right - r
  • Ring - o (the letter O looks like a ring)
  • River - r, ma (Ma River)
  • Road - rd or ai (looks like A1)
  • Rolls Royce - rr
  • Roman Catholic - rc
  • Rook - r
  • Royal Academy - ra
  • Royal Artillery - ra
  • Royal Engineers - re
  • Royal Marines - rm
  • Royal Navy - rn
  • Rugby (Union) - ru
  • Run - r

Clues beginning with S[edit]

  • Sailor - ab (able-bodied seaman), tar (slang), rn, salt, jack, hand, os (ordinary seaman)
  • Saint - st or s
  • Sappers - re (the Royal Engineers equivalent of "private")
  • Say - e.g. (short for the Latin exempli gratia)
  • Seaman - ab (able-bodied seaman)
  • Second - s or mo (moment)
  • Secret service - ss
  • Secretary - pa (personal assistant)
  • Setter - i or me (meaning the setter of the crossword)
  • Sex appeal - it (after Clara Bow - the It girl) or sa
  • Shilling - s
  • Significant other - so
  • Ship - ss (steam ship)
  • Short wave - sw
  • Silk - qc or kc (From Queen's—or King's—Counsel)
  • Silver - ag (chemical symbol)
  • Sodium - na (chemical symbol)
  • Small - s
  • Softly - p (musical notation)
  • Soldier - rm (Royal Marine), re (Royal Engineer), gi (General Infantryman), ant
  • Soldiers - men, or (Other Ranks)
  • Son - s
  • South - s
  • Spanish - el
  • Spectacles - oo
  • Sportsman - blue(From Oxford - Cambridge Face-Offs)
  • State - any abbreviation of an American State (e.g. CA, FL ..)
  • Street - st
  • Student - l (learner) or nus (National Union of Students)
  • Stumped - st
  • Submarine - u (U-boat) or sub
  • Supporter - bra
  • Sweat - bo (Body odor)

Clues beginning with T[edit]

  • Tar - ab (able-bodied seaman)
  • Tax - vat (Value added tax)
  • Teachers - nut (National Union of Teachers)
  • Team - xi (Roman numerals for eleven players in a football or cricket team)
  • Teetotal - tt or aa (from Alcoholics Anonymous)
  • Ten - x (Roman numerals) or io (IO looks like 10)
  • Territorial Army - ta
  • Terrorists - eta (Basque Nationalists), ira (Irish Republican Army), uff (Ulster Freedom Fighters), uda (Ulster Defence Association)
  • That is - ie (from the Latin id est)
  • Theologian - dd (Doctor of Divinity)
  • This month - inst (from the Latin instante mense)
  • Thousand - g (grand), m (Roman numeral), or k (kilo-)
  • Thus - ie (short for the Latin id est), so
  • Time - t, s, m
  • Times - x (multiplication symbol)
  • Toilet - wc (water closet)
  • Tory - con (slang for Conservative)
  • Trendy - in (euphemism)
  • Tripod - Y (shape of a Tripod)
  • Tungsten - w (chemical symbol)
  • Tyro - l (for learner)

Clues beginning with U[edit]

  • Ulster - ni (Northern Ireland)
  • Ulster Defence Association - uda
  • Ulster Freedom Fighters - uff
  • Ultimate - z (last or ultimate letter of the alphabet)
  • United Nations - un
  • Unknown - x, y or z (Mathematical variable)
  • University - u or ou (Open University) or up (in the UK one goes up to university)

Clues beginning with V[edit]

  • Value added tax - vat
  • Variable - x, y or z (Mathematical unknown)
  • Versus - v or vs
  • Very - v
  • Volunteers - ta (Territorial Army)

Clues beginning with W[edit]

  • Way - rd (road), st (street), ave (avenue)
  • Weight - g (gram), lb (pound)
  • Whistle-blower - ref(referee)
  • Wide - w (cricket)
  • Wife - w
  • With - w
  • Without - wo
  • Work - w, op (operation), opus (classical music)
  • Worker - ant

Clues beginning with X[edit]

  • X - IO (The letters IO look like the number 10)

Clues beginning with Y[edit]

  • Yard - yd or y
  • Year - y or yr

Clues beginning with Z[edit]

  • Zero - o (the letter O looks like the number 0)

External links[edit]