german-abbreviation

FYI: 70+ of the Most Useful German Abbreviations

The language you use may be smaller than you realize.

Whether you’re texting your BFF or expertly crafting your next tweet, abbreviations, or Abkürzungen in German, come in handy all the time.

Think about it.

When was the last time you used “OK” or “LOL” or even “FYI”?

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.

Abbreviations are as specific as slang. You just have to learn them.

But, you may ask, why?
 


 
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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!

Resources for Learning German with All Its Standard Shortenings

  • The next time you are reading in German and come across an abbreviation you don’t know, open Abkuerzungen.de, 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. (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.) For example, if you search for “z.B.” then the last entry will be zum Beispiel, or “for example.”
  • 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 see how abbreviations, along with colloquial shortenings, slang and expressions factor into everyday German life and culture, start learning German with FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like educational clips, movie trailers, news and more—and turns them into personalized language lessons. For example, this video on the fall of the Berlin Wall can help you learn more about the historical context surrounding the abbreviations BRD and DDR.

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

z.B., Here Are Some Top German Abbreviations to Master!

Here is a list of some of the most common abbreviations you will likely come across. Learning them by subject will probably be more efficient, as it clumps them together in your mind. That way, when you try to recall what a particular abbreviation means, you can associate it with similar words. After all, your mind prefers learning chunks of knowledge at a time.

Cases

Nom. — nominativ (nominative)

Akk.  akkusativ (accusative)

Dat. — dativ (dative)

Gen. — genitiv (genitive)

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.)

Titles

Fr. — Frau (Mrs.)

Frl. — Fraulein (Miss)

Hr. — Herr (Mister)

Guten Tag, Hr. Rosenhund! (Good day, Mr. Rosenhund!)

Fr. Helga, darf ich gehen? (Mrs. Helga, may I go?)

Genealogy

geb.  geboren (born/née; this abbreviation would go after a woman’s married name and before her maiden name)

verh. — verheiratet (married)

Wwe/Wwer — Witwe/Witwer (widow/widower)

“Liebe Wwer,” schreibt er. (“Dear widower,” he wrote.)

“Sie sind verh.!” sagt er frohlich. (“They are married!” he says happily.)

Germany

BRD — Bundesrepublik Deutschland (former West Germany)

DDR — Deutsche Demokratische Republik (former East Germany)

Es war einmal zwei Teile von Deutschland: es gibt die DDR und die BRD. (There were once two parts of Germany: the DDR and the BRD.)

Measurements

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)

Die Strecke ist ein hundert km. (The distance is 100 kilometers.)

Time

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)

Mein Treffen heute dauert eine Std. (My meeting today is for one hour.)

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

Transportation

Bhf. — Bahnhof (station)

LKW — Lastkraftwagen (SUV)

PKW — Personenkraftwagen (car)

S-Bahn — Schnellbahn/Stadtbahn (urban railway)

Sehen Sie ein Zeichen für die S-Bahn? (Do you see a sign for the urban railway?)

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

Accomodations

App. — Apartment/Wohnung (apartment)

Bek/BK — Bad/Bäder (bathroom)

EFH — Einfamilienhaus (single-family home)

KDB — Küche Dusche Bad (kitchen, shower, bathroom)

NK — Nebenkosten (utilities)

SZ — Schlafzimmer (bedroom)

Die Raumaufteilung enthaltet nur eines SZ. (The floor plan includes only one bedroom.)

Wollen Sie eines EFH kaufen? Oder etwas gröβer? (Do you want to buy a single-family home? Or something bigger?)

Legal

GG — Grundgesetz (basic law)

BG — Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (civil code)

BGH — Bundesgerichtshof (Federal High Court)

KfzPflVV — Kraftfahrzeug-Pflichtversicherungsverordnung (insurance regulations for a car)

Man muss das GG respektieren. (One must respect the basic law.)

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

Associations and Groups

DFB — Deutsche Fuβballbund (German Football Association)

GmbH — Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (limited liability company; LLC)

IRK — International Rotes Kreuz (International Red Cross)

Der IRK hilft die, die arm sind. (The International Red Cross helps those who are poor.)

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

Miscellaneous

Abk. — Abkürzung (abbreviation)

beisp. — beispielsweise (for example)

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)

z.B. — zum Beispiel (for example)

b.w. — bitte wenden (please turn over)

bzw. — beziehungsweise (and/or/respectively)

dazw. — dazwischen (between)

f./ff. — folgende Seite(n) (following page(s))

i.D. — im Durchschnitt (on average)

kompl. — komplett (complete)

m.E. — meines Erachtens (in my opinion)

MFG — mit 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)

u.zw. — und zwar (namely)

w.o. — wie oben (as above)

z.T. — zum Teil (in part)

Ein St. kostest mir vier Euros. (One piece costs me four Euros.)

Lesen Sie die f. bitte. (Read the following pages, please.)

Sie wissen jetzt viele Abk., oder? (You know a lot of abbreviations now, right?)

Meine Schwester schickt mir eine SMS: “Bringt etw. bitte!” (My sister texted me: “Bring something, please!”)

Colloquial Shortenings

Many, if not all, of the above abbreviations are used frequently in daily German speech. The next few abbreviations are a cross between formal and informal, but are incredibly useful for understanding colloquial German speech.

Take a close look at the next few phrasings, and be sure to include them in your vocabulary study!

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.

Another common shortening involves using an apostrophe to show abbreviation.

Ich hab’ — Ich habe (I have)

While it might seem like overkill to exclude only one letter, think of how many times you use contractions in your conversations. That’s when Ich hab’ is used the most in German: in speech.

Prof — Professor (professor)

Uni — Universität (university)

Sozi — Sozialist (Socialist)

Dieser Sommer gehe ich zur Uni. (This summer I go to university.)

Internet Slang and Text Abbreviations

Denglisch — combination of Deutsch (German) and Englisch (English)

FG  freches/fettes Grinsen (wide grin)

HDF — Halt die/deine Fresse (shut up)

RL — richtiges Leben (real life)

LG — Liebe Grüβe (loving regards)

Vokuhila — vorne kurz hinten lang (short in the front and long in the back; mullet)

“HDF!” schrie ich. (“Shut up!” I cried.)

 

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!
 

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