german flag

German Abbreviations: Your Guide to 86 Common Shortenings Used by Native Speakers

Abbreviations are key to being fluent in any language, and German is no exception.

However, as you can imagine, German speakers and English speakers don’t always shorten the same words. In fact, German abbreviations are as specific as slang. 

Here is a list of some of the most common German abbreviations you will likely come across. 



AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
Nom. Nominativ nominative
Akk. Akkusativ accusative
Dat. Dativ dative
Gen. Genitiv genitive

Example Sentence: 

Der Akk., Dat., und Gen. sind nur drei von den vier deutschen Fällen.
The accusative, dative, and genitive are only three of the four German cases.


Abbreviations for titles are only used occasionally in documents where space on the page becomes a precious commodity. Using them in formal correspondence can even be considered rude; addressing a fussy recipient like this might lead them to think they are not worth the effort of the additional two letters!

You do encounter them in more informal contexts, however, such as texting or online comments, where they might save a tireless Tweeter from wasting precious characters.

AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
Fr. Frau Mrs. (Missus)
Hr. Herr Mr. (Mister)
Dr. Doktor Dr. (Doctor)


These shortenings are often used in written articles about people or in family histories: 

AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
geb. geboren born/née (after a woman’s married name and before her maiden name)
verh. verheiratet married
Wwe Witwe widow
Wwer Witwer widower

Example Sentence:

Angela Merkel (geb. Kasner; 17. Juli 1954 in Hamburg) ist eine deutsche Politikerin.
Angela Merkel (born Kasner, in 1954 in Hamburg) is a German politician. 


AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
BRD Bundesrepublik Deutschland Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) — former state of West Germany
DDR Deutsche Demokratische Republik German Democratic Republic (DDR) — former state of East Germany

Example Sentence:

Deutschland war zwischen 1949 und 1990 in die DDR im Osten und die BRD im Westen aufgeteilt.
Between 1949 and 1990, Germany was split between the GDR in the East and the BRG in the West. 


AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
cal Kalorie calorie
cbm Kubikmeter cubic meter
ccm Kubikzentimeter cubic centimeter
kg Kilogramm kilogram
km Kilometer kilometer
kW Kilowatt kilowatt
m Meter meter
mm Millimeter millimeter

Example Sentence:

Die Strecke umfasst einhundert km. 
The route is one hundred kilometers.


If you’re running low on it, you might find these abbreviations for time useful for informal messaging, making concise work notes or when writing a pithy small ad. 

AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
abds abends in the evening
d.M. dieses Monats of this month
inzw inzwischen in the meantime
Jh. Jahrhundert century
sek. Sekunde second
Std. Stunde hour
tägl. täglich daily

Example Sentences:  

Das Treffen heute dauert eine Std.
The meeting today is for an hour.

Der Planer sagt, “Trainieren Sie tägl.”
The planner says, “train daily.”


AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
Bhf. Bahnhof station
LKW Lastkraftwagen SUV
PKW Personenkraftwagen car
S-Bahn Schnellbahn / Stadtbahn urban railway

Example Sentences:  

Die nächste S-Bahn Station ist fünf Minuten zu Fuß. 
The next metro station is a five minute walk. 

Fahren Sie einen LKW oder einen PKW?
Do you drive an SUV or a car?


You’ll almost certainly come across these abbreviations advertisements for properties or flats. 

AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
EFH Einfamilienhaus single-family home
KDB Küche Dusche Bad kitchen, shower, bathroom
NK Nebenkosten utilities
SZ Schlafzimmer bedrooms
EG Erdgeschoss ground floor
DG Dachgeschoss top floor

Example Sentences: 

Die Wohnung hat 2 SZ. 
The apartment has two bedrooms.  

Sie erben das elterliche EFH.
They’re inheriting their parents’ detached house. 


Legal jargon is notoriously verbose, especially in German. So you’re likely to encounter these abbreviations to at least somewhat reduce the character count on lengthy contracts and dealings.  

AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
GG Grundgesetz basic law
BG Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch civil code
BGH Bundesgerichtshof Federal High Court
KfzPflVV Kraftfahrzeug-Pflichtversicherungsverordnung insurance regulations for a car

Example Sentences:  

Man muss das GG respektieren.
One must respect the constitution.

Wissen Sie etwas über das BG? 
Do you know anything about the civil code?

Associations, Groups and Events

These shortenings are very commonly used in both formal and informal writing to shave off the length of these long titles. You’ll often see the last one, “GmbH”, used at the end of company names such as “Müller GmbH”. 

AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
DFBDeutsche Fuβballbund German Football Association
WM Weltmeisterschaft World Cup (football)
GmbH Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung limited liability company; LLC

Example Sentence:  

Der DFB ist sehr stark im Deutschland.
The German Football Association is very strong in Germany.


Below are some very common abbreviations you’ll find in written German, both formal and informal, that save you some time on more verbose phrases. 

AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
Abk. Abkürzung abbreviation
desgl. desgleichen ditto/likewise
d.h.das heiβt that is/i.e.
do. dito ditto
etw. etwas something
m.a.W. mit anderen Worten in other words
b.w. bitte wenden please turn over
bzw. beziehungsweise and/or/respectively
dazw. dazwischen between
f. / ff. folgende Seite / folgende Seiten following page(s)
i.D. im Durchschnitt on average
kompl. komplett complete
m.E. meines Erachtens in my view
MFGmit freundlichen Grüβen yours sincerely
m.M. / m.M.n. meiner Meinung / meiner Meinung nach in my opinion
m. W. meines Wissens as far as I know
Pkt. Punkt point
St. Stück piece
Tel. Telefon telephone
u. und and
übl. / üblw. üblich / üblicherweise usual
usw. und so weiter and so on
w.o. wie oben as above
z.B. zum Beispiel for example
z.T. zum Teil in part

Example Sentences:  

Ein St. kostest vier Euro. 
One piece costs four Euros.

Meine Schwester hat mir eine SMS geschrieben: “Ich hab etw. für dich!”
My sister texted me: “I’ve got something for you!”

Es gibt viele Abk. im Deutschen. 
There are lots of abbreviations in German. 

Shortening Names and Places

The next few abbreviations are useful shortenings for people and places for informal writings and speech. 

One common shortening involves adding an ‘i’ to the end of a word or name:

Timmi — Timmy

This follows the same thought process as nicknames and/or pet names,  like Billy for William or Ricky for Richard.

Here are some other common shortenings used in both spoken and informal written German for places and people: 

AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
Prof Professor professor
Uni Universität university

Example Sentence:

Nächsten Monat gehe ich auf die Uni.
Next month, I’m going to college. 

Verb Contractions

German-speakers will often drop off the ‘e’ endings of first-person verb forms. So ich habe will often get pronounced as “ich hab.” These sort of contractions are hugely common in spoken German or informal contexts like text messaging, but should not be used in formal written German.

The German dictionary Duden recommends not using apostrophes to indicate the missing ‘e’ endings like this, but you may encounter them in some texts or transcriptions of spoken language.

ContractionFull Uncontracted FormEnglish Definition
Ich hab Ich habe I have
Ich sag Ich sage I say
Ich mach Ich mache I do
Ich seh Ich sehe I see

Internet and Text Slang

As the title gives away, these abbreviations aren’t used in spoken language, but rather exclusively in the virtual world.

AbbreviationGerman DefinitionEnglish Definition
Denglischcombination of Deutsch (German) and Englisch (English)This refers to the propensity of English words being incorporated into everyday German. (eg; das Homeoffice)
FG freches Grinsen / fettes Grinsen wide grin (used to indicate you're smiling after reading or saying something cheeky)
HDF halt die Fresse / halt deine Fresse shut up
hdl hab dich lieb love ya / lots of love (in a friendly/non-romantic way)
RLstands for the English term "real life"real life
LGLiebe Grüβe best wishes / lots of love
Vokuhila vorne kurz, hinten lang short in the front and long in the back; mullet

Example Sentence:  

Tschüssi hbl! 
Byee, love you!

Why Learn German Abbreviations?

German abbreviations are a crucial part of the written language. When reading or writing, you will want to know what a particular abbreviation stands for so that you can comprehend and/or convey the proper meaning.

Abbreviations are also used in everyday speech, simply because saying less is easier. Consider how you talk when around your friends, compared to how you might speak while interviewing for a job. Though of course your tone is much different, even the words you use will vary.

German abbreviations are, just like slang, an important part of German culture. For example, if you don’t know very much about German history and the formerly divided Germany, you may not know that BRD and DDR refer to the former West Germany and Easy Germany respectively (more on this below).

Learning German abbreviations is also another way of adding to your vocabulary. To get one step closer to fluency, check out the abbreviations below. Memorize these and you will be that much closer to speaking like a true native German!

To see how abbreviations, along with colloquial shortenings, slang and expressions, factor into everyday German life and culture, look for German videos which showcase these words in action. 

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

FluentU Ad

Resources for Learning More

  • The next time you are reading in German and come across an abbreviation you don’t know, open, a great resource that will allow you to search for abbreviations and meanings. Simply enter the abbreviation you are searching for, and click “search.”

    Possible definitions of the abbreviation will then be listed. For example, if you search for “z.B.” then the last entry will be zum Beispiel, or “for example.” (Conversely, if you are wondering if a certain word has an abbreviation, just type that word into the search box and any possible abbreviations will appear.) 

  • If you are looking for a one-stop abbreviation resource, German Translation Tips & Resources has the list for you. Categorized alphabetically, these abbreviations are listed in one column, with their corresponding German and English translations. 

To supplement your vocabulary training, pitch a few German abbreviations onto your plate each week. You will be that much closer to native fluency!


Practice these abbreviations as you do your regular vocabulary, and try to use them as much as you can in your everyday language.

Teach your friends, and you can start chatting and texting using German slang!

And One More Thing...

Want to know the key to learning German effectively?

It's using the right content and tools, like FluentU has to offer! Browse hundreds of videos, take endless quizzes and master the German language faster than you've ever imagine!


Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive subtitles.


You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don't know, you can add it to a vocabulary list.


And FluentU isn't just for watching videos. It's a complete platform for learning. It's designed to effectively teach you all the vocabulary from any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you're on.


The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you're learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe