Crossword Abbreviations


Thousands of abbreviations are now considered legitimate in cryptic crosswords. Compilers all have their own favourites. Here is a selection of frequently used abbreviations. You may wonder whether these are all to be remembered, But they are like any learning. What looks daunting at first becomes second nature later. Further, most abbreviations are based on normal usage of the words.


A = ace, Austria, argon
AA = Automobile Association, anti-aircraft, non-drinker
AB = seaman
AC = account, bill, alternating current, air-conditioning
AD = advertisement, present time
AG = silver
AI = top class
AL = Alabama, gangster(Capone)
AM = American, morning
AU = gold
AV = Authorised Version, Bible, average


B= bachelor, Belgium, bishop, book, born, bowled, boy, British, extra (cricket), second class, soft (pencil)
BA = degree, barium, graduate, airline
BB = bed & breakfast, books, Boys' Brigade, very soft, Brigitte Bardot
BC = Before Christ, British Columbia
BK = book
BL = British Legion
BM = British Museum
BO = body odour, smell etc
BR = Brazil, bridge, British, brother, British Rail, railway, trains, brown
BT = baronet


C= 100, about, carbon, caught, Celsius, cent, centigrade, century, chapter, circa, cold, Conservative, many
CA = circa, about, calcium, California, Chartered Accountant, accountant
CB = honour(Companion of the Bath), radio
CC = county council, cricket club, cubic centimetre, 200
CD = cadmium, civil defence, diplomats
CE = Church (of England), (Civil) Engineer
CH = central heating, chapter, child, China, church, Companion (of Honour), Switzerland
CI = Channel Islands
CL = 150, chlorine
CO = company, business, firm, care of, cobalt, Colombia, Colorado, (commanding) officer
CR = chromium, credit
CS = caesium, Civil Service, gas
CT = caught, court
CU = copper
CZ = Czechoslovakia
D = died, dead, 500, large number, many, copper (old penny), daughter,delta, deuterium, Germany
DB = decibel
DC = electric current, District Commissioner, District of Columbia
DD = Doctor of Divinity, churchman, divine, theologian
DG = by the grace of god, director general
DH = Lawrence
DI = 501, Princess, Diana, little girl, double
DR = doctor, debtor, drachm

E = east(ern), orient(al), energy, English, Spain
EA = each, East Africa, East Anglia
EC(1=I) = City, East End
EG = for example/instance, say
EP = epistle, record, disc
ER = hesitation, monarch, Queen
ET = alien, extra terrestrial
F = fellow, female, loud (music), Fahrenheit, fathom, fluorine, folio, France, Friday, fine
FA = Football (Association), Fanny Adams, nothing
FE = iron, further education, Smith (Lord Birkenhead)
FF = folios, fast forward, fortimisso, very loud
FO = folio, Foreign Office, Flying Officer, airman
FR = father, France, French, francium
FT = feet, foot, newspaper
G = George, girl, gramme, gram, gravity, grand, great, Greek, thousand
GA = Georgia
GB = (Great) Britain
GC = George Cross, decoration
GG = horse/nag etc
GI = (American) soldier
GK = Greek
GP = doctor, medic, group
GR = grain, gramme, great, Greece, Greek, (King) George, (former) monarch
H = hydrogen, hospital, hot, hard, height, Henry, hour, house, Hungary, hotel, husband
HA = Horse Artillery
HE = His Excellency, ambassador, governor, helium, (high) explosive
HG = mercury
HM = Her/His Majesty, King, Queen, harbourmaster
HO = Home Office
HP = hire-purchase, horsepower, never-never, sauce, House(s) of Parliament
HQ = headquarters
HR = hour
HT = (high) tension
I = one, unit, single, iodine, island, Italy, ace
IC = in charge/command
IE = id est, that is, that's
II (11) = eleven, two, side, team
IL = Illinois, Israel
IN = Indiana, inch, indium
IO (10) = ten
IQ = intelligence (quotient)
IR = iridium, Iran
IS = Iceland, Isles of Scilly, island, Isaiah
IT = Italy, Italian, vermouth, thing, Information
IV = four
IX = nine
J = Jack, Japan, joule, judge, justice, knave
JP = Justice (of the Peace), magistrate
JR = junior
K = 1000, grand, kelvin, kilo(metre), king, knight, potassium, constant, killed
KC = kilocycle, King's Counsel, old lawyer
KG = Knight (of the Garter)
KM = kilometre
KO = kick-off, knock out
KR = krypton
KT = knight, knot (nautical)
KY = Kentucky
L = left, port, lake, large, long, little, Latin, Luxembourg, pound, money, sovereign, 50, number, learner/beginner/novice etc, length, Liberal, lira, loch
LA = Los Angeles, American city, Louisiana, lake, lanthanum
LB = leg bye, extra, pound, measure, weight
LP = (long playing) record, disc
LT = lieutenant
M = metre, male, man, masculine, married, mass, master, member, motorway, medium, meridiem, noon, mark, monsieur, Frenchman, 1,000, grand, large number, million, maiden, Malta, Monday
MA = Master of Arts, degree, graduate, scholar, Massachusetts, Morocco
MB = Bachelor of Medicine, doctor, medical man
MC = Military Cross, medal, decoration, master of ceremonies, Monaco
MD = Doctor (of Medicine), medical man, managing director, musical director, Maryland, mendelevium, 1500
ME = Maine, Middle East, Middle English, Messerschmitt, German aircraft
MG = car, magnesium
MI = motorway
MM = Military Medal, decoration, Frenchmen, millimetre, 2,000
MN = manganese
MO = medical officer, doctor, Missouri, moment, second, modus operandi, molybdenum
MP = Member of Parliament, member, politician, Military/Mounted Police
MS = manuscript, writing
N = nitrogen, noon, midday, north, pole, born, name, neuter, new, Norway, noun, Napoleon
NA = sodium
NB - nota bene, note, New Brunswick, niobium
ND = dateless (no date), undated, neodymium
NE = born, northeast, Tyneside, Near East
NI = nickel, Northern Ireland, Ulster
NL = Holland, The Netherlands
NO = not out, number, 0, nobelium, number
NT = New Testament, Bible, books, National Trust, conservationists
NW = northwest
NY = New York
NZ = New Zealand O = ball, circle, disk, duck, egg, ring, round, love, nil, Ohio, Oxford, oxygen
OB = died, obituary, Old Boy, outside broadcast
OC = Officer Commanding, only child
OE = Old English, Old boy (Old Etonian)
OG = Old German, own goa
l OP = operation, opus, work, out of print, observation post, Order of Preachers (Dominicans), optical
OS = outsize, very large, Ordinary Seaman, sailor, tar, Old Style, osmium
OT = Old Testament, Bible, books, occupational therapy
OZ = Australia, ounce
P = quiet, soft, piano, page, parking, phosphorus, penny, pence, copper(s) coin, small change, port, Portugal, Panama, pawn, power, President
PA = father, Panama, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, protactinium
PB = paperback, lead
PC = police constable, bobby, copper, postcard, parish council, per cent, Privy Councillor
PE = physical education, exercise, Peru
PG = paying guest, lodger, parental guidance
PH = public house, inn, tavern, pH value (expressing degrees of acidity or alkalinity)
PL = plural, Poland
PM = post meridiem, afternoon, post mortem, Prime Minister, Provost Marshal, promethium
PO = Pilot Officer, airman, Post Office, postal order
PP = pianissimo, very soft, tuppence, pages, per pro, proxy, past participle
PR = public relations, advertising, price
PS = postscript, afterthought, Police Sergeant, private secretary, psalm
PT = (physical) training, exercise, point, platinum
Q = question, queen, Quebec
QC = Queen's Counsel, lawyer, silk
QT = quart, quiet
QU = quart, queen
R = right, starboard, rex, regina, king, queen, royal, monarch, river, run(s), rook, castle, radius, recipe, take, repeat, resistance, road, Romania, railway, rand, reamur, recto, regiment, Reverend
RA = Royal Artillery, artillery, gunners, Royal Academy, Burlington House, painter, radium, Royal & Ancient
RC = (Roman) Catholic, church, Red Cross
RD = refer (cheque) to drawer, bounce, rural dean, road
RE = Religious Education, Royal Engineer(s), engineer(s), sapper(s), soldier(s), rhenium
RI = Rhode Island, Religious Instruction, Royal Institution
RM = (Royal) Marine(s), jolly/ies
RN = Royal Navy, fleet, ships
RR = Right Reverend, bishop, Rolls-Royce
RT = right, radio telephone/telegraphy
RU = Rugby Union, football, game
RV = Revised Version, Bible, rendezvous, meeting place, tryst
RY = railway, lines
S = south(ern), pole, small, second(s), sulphur, bend, shilling, bob, dollar, saint, holy man, Sabbath, Saturday, son, sun, Sweden, singular, society, starboard
SA = sex appeal, South Africa, South America
SH = Shetlands
SC = Scot(land), scandium
SE = southeast, Kent, Home Counties, selenium
SI = silicon
SN = tin
SO = south, standing order, Stationery Office
SP = starting price, betting, odds, Spain
SS = steamship/ steamer/vessel/boat, Schutzstaffel, Nazi elite units, dollars, saints
ST = saint, good/holy man, street, road, way, stone, stumped (cricket)
SU = Soviet Union, Sunday
SW = southwest T = time, (kind of) shirt/square/junction, (model of Ford) car, ton, tonne, Tuesday
TA = Territorial Army, terriers, army, volunteers, titanium
TB = tuberculosis, torpedo boat, trial balance, terbium
TE = Lawrence of Arabia, tellurium
TH = Thursday, thorium
TI = titanium
TT = teetotal, dry, abstainer, (Isle of Man) races, milk
U = socially acceptable/posh/classy/superior, universal, uranium, bend, boat, university, Utah, Uruguay
UN = United Nations, peacekeepers
UP = Uttar Pradesh, Indian state
V = 5, number, a few, several, versus (vs), against, vide, see, Vatican, verse, velocity, very, victory, Virginia, volt(s), volume, vanadium
VA = Virginia
VC = Victoria Cross, decoration
VI(1) = flying bomb, six, Violet, little girl
W = west(ern), wide, extra (cricket), watt(s), Wednesday, wicket, width, wife, women, white, with, wolfram/tungsten
WC = West Central, West End (London), water closet
WI(1) = Mayfair (London), West End, West Indies, Women's Institute
X = 10, number, chromosome, cross, times (x), ex-, kiss, unknown (value/character), vote, wrong, over-18
XE = xenon
XI = eleven, team, side
XII = 12, dozen
XL = 40, extra large
XV = fifteen, team, side
XX = 20, score
XXX = 30 Y = unknown (value/character), Yugoslavia, yttrium, chromosome, yard, year, yen, young
YR = year
YU = Yugoslavia
Z = Zambia, Zanzibar, final
ZN = zinc
ZR = Zaire, zirconium
ZZ = sleep

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