ABBREVIATURE or ABBREVIATION, a Contraction of a Word, or Passage ; made by dropping some of the Letters, and substituting certain Marks, or Characters in their Place. See SYMBOL.

Lawyers, Physicians, &c. use abundance of Abbreviatures ; partly for the sake of Expedition, and partly for that of Mystery. A List of the principal Abbreviatures in the several Arts and Faculties, see under the Article CHARACTER.

Of all People, the Rabbins are the greatest Dealers in this way ; their Writings are unintelligible, without an Explication of the Hebrew Abbreviatures. The Jewish Authors and Copists don't content themselves to abbreviate Words, like the Greeks and Latins, by retrenching some of the Letters, or Syllables thereof; but they frequently take away all but the initial Letter. Thus, ך stands for Rabbi, and א stands for לא, יב׀ךא or ךמא according to the Place it is found in.

But what is more, they frequently take the initial Letters of several succeeding Words, join 'em together, and adding Vowels to 'em, make a barbarous sort of Word, represenrative of all the Words thus abridg'd. Thus, Rabbi Schelemoh Jarrhi, in the Jargon of the Hebrew Abbreviature, is call'd Rafi ; and Rabbi Moses ben Maiemon, Rambam. And thus again, א׀במ is put for א׀במ...Donum in abdito evertit Iram.

Mercerus, David de Pomis, Schindler, Buxtorf, &c. have given Explications of this sort of Ciphers. The most copious Collection of Roman Abbreviations, is that of Sertonus Ursatus, at the End of the Marmora Arundelia ; Sertorii Ursati Equitis de Notis Romanorum Commentarim.

The Word is deriv'd from the Latin brevis, of the Greek βραχύς, Short.