The other day I was watching some television in English and noticed that full words are not always used. Occasionally, they are shortened. For the record, this post is referring to shortenings, a type of abbreviation, and not the other three types I am aware of (visit the link to view). I'm also not referring to the ultra new/short/hip shortenings such as "bestie" for "best friend." Examples of what I am talking about follow:

carb for carbohydrate
decaf for decaffeinated
limo for limousine
prep for preparation
promo code for promotion code

I was able to look up all of those in Word Reference, which was a pleasant surprise, but then there are some that are not found altogether such as "abs" for "abdominals." (Word Reference provides Anti-lock Braking System ... not exactly the same thing, but it does list "quadriceps" for "quads.") If I don't find something in Word Reference, I usually then turn to Tureng and it often has a word or phrase Word Reference does not, but not always.

Prior to deciding to post this, I didn't know Word Reference would return so many shortenings of words for me and lead me to the Spanish equivalent, but after looking up a few of these, I began to wonder how equivalent they really were. For every shortened English word I looked up, a full Spanish word was returned, but I suspect this tendency to shorten certain words is not exclusive to English. For my level of Spanish right now, what Word Reference, Tureng, and other online resources provide is sufficient.

There will come a day, however, when I will want to take my listening skills to another level and I have discovered that if I am not familiar with a word, I tend not to hear it when it is used in spoken language (especially when listening to fast-talkers). What would help me at that point is a collection of some of the most common shortenings of words in Spanish.

So, what I would like from native or near fluent speakers of Spanish is one shortened word that you think would be good for someone learning Spanish to know. If you can come up with five, even better. To give you a clearer idea of what it is I am talking about, here's a link to an article from someone who put together a list of helpful shortenings in English:

"33 Word Shortenings Any Foreign English Speaker Should Know!"

Also, in addition to any you can share in this thread, if you happen to know of a resource, free or for purchase, online or otherwise, that contains shortenings and/or other helpful abbreviations, please mention them, too.

  • 1
    I don't think we will get a good list of words like that on your link since in Spanish we do not tend to shorten words as frequently as English. I'm a native speaker and right now I can't think of any shortened word. Perhaps what is short is my brain ;-) Obviously we shorten some things like "Capi" for "Capitán" but not in the same sense as in your examples. We are used to say "descafeinado" no matter how long it takes. (waiting/hoping for SE to prove me wrong)
    – DGaleano
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 18:22
  • 1
    This is a very interesting question, Lisa. Note that the part of give me a list is off topic here (from What topics can I ask about here? →_don’t ask any questions about these topics... - "List" questions, where every answer is equally valid_). So I think a valid answer to this would be a general overview on the little usage we Spanish speakers do of shortened words.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 6:39
  • 1
    @fedorqui Gracias for pointing out to me that there are rules to be adhered to. In my eagerness to explore the pages of Spanish StackExchange and tap its collective resource of knowledge, I may have neglected to read those rules or do so as thoroughly as I should have. I will definitely take a closer look before posting again. TY for so politely pointing that out. Until then, TY both -- you and DGaleano -- for posting comments. The thought that shortenings might not be as frequent in Spanish never even entered my mind. Even so, if anyone reading this knows of any, let's hope they share.
    – Lisa Beck
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 1:00

2 Answers 2


Two words came from the top of my head:

la tele or el tele for la televisión or el televisor (usage depending on region)
el auto for el automóvil (also used in some regions only, others prefer coche)

So I went to the official RAE dictionary to see if they were registered, and indeed, they are listed with etymological origin Acort., abbreviation of Acortamiento. That is, shortening.

I don't know if there is a better way to look for them, but if you run the following Google search: acort site:dle.rae.es, you'll find a bunch of these. Note that not every word that comes up in this search matches with your definition. And some of them are only for informal use. And some may be so deeply incorporated into the language that wouldn't be considered as abbreviations, and the usage of the full word would be looked upon as eccentric. And sure there will be newer ones that are not yet registered in the dictionary. Here's a list of some I recognized from the first pages of the search, in no particular order:

compa for compañero or compadre
cine for cinematógrafo
depre for deprimido
subte for subterráneo
narco for narcotraficante
progre for progresista
bici for bicicleta
boli for bolígrafo
peli for película
seño for señorita (female teacher)
súper for supermercado
foto for fotografía
moto for motocicleta
otorrino for otorrinolaringólogo

Another shortening that's not on the dictionary but it's commonly used is:

porfa for por favor

  • 4
    Very clever way to find abbreviations in Spanish. +1
    – Charlie
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 6:41
  • 1
    I know I'm not suppose to post thank you comments, so I won't, but your answer was brilliant and I appreciate that you went above and beyond by adding a few examples of what you found. Very helpful.
    – Lisa Beck
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 1:10

Unos otros ejemplos comunes:

  • disco (discoteca)
  • finde (fin de semana)
  • furgo (furgoneta)
  • mani (manifestación)
  • metro (metropolitano)
  • mili (servicio militar)
  • profe (profesor/a)
  • súper, híper (super-,hiper-mercado)
  • taxi (taxímetro)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.