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Abbreviations

Along with recognising what type of clue is in front of you (see the Crossword hints page), it is also necessary to be aware of the abbreviations (or acronyms) that are often used when constructing an answer. Here's an example of a clue that is solved by using these techniques:

          Political party ring-fences one cut (4)SN(I)P = snip

Here, the acronym SNP (Scottish National Party) surrounds the Roman numeral I to give the answer snip.

Abbreviations are usually combined with other elements (e.g. anagrams) to construct an answer. Not knowing any of these will make it much harder to solve cryptic crosswords. To help with this, some of the most common abbreviations and acronyms are listed below:

R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z | Other things to remember
A
About = c, ca, re Account = ac Accountant = ca Ace = a
Actors = rsc Advert = ad Advertising = pr Afternoon = pm
Afterthought = ps Against = v, vs Agent = rep Aide = pa
Airline = ba Alien = et America = us, sam And others = etal
And the rest = etc Anonymous = anon Answer = a Armed forces = mod
Armed police = swat Arrival time = eta Artillery = ra Artist = ra
Australia = oz Avenue = ave Average mark = c
B
Bachelor = b, ba, bm Bad mark = f, u Ball = o Bearing = e, n, s, w
Beginner = l Bend = u, s Bible = nt, ot Bill = ac, iou
Bishop = b, rr Bob = s Bobby = pc Book = bk
Books = nt, ot Born = b Boss = dg, md, ceo Bowled = b
Boy = b Business = co, inc Bye = b Byte = b
C
Captain = cpt, capt Car = mg, rr, vw Care of = co Castle = r
Caught = c Celsius = c Cent = c Centimetre = cm
Century = c Certificate = u, x, pg Chapter = ch Chromosome = x, y
Church = ce, ch Circle = o City = la, ny Cocaine = c
Cold = c Colonel = col Commandos = rm Commercial = ad
Company = co, inc Compare = cf Computer = pc Computers = it
Conservationists = nt Constable = pc Constant = pi Copper = p, pc
Copy = cc Copyright = c Countries = un, nato Court = ct
Cricket club = cc Crime fighters = cia, fbi Cross = x Current = ac, dc, amp
D
Date = d Date of birth = dob Daughter = d Dead = d, ex, dec
Debt = iou Degree = c, f, ba, ma Department = dep Depth = d
Detective = di Detectives = cid Dictionary = oed Died = d, ex, dec
Direction = e, n, s, w Director-general = dg Disc = cd, ep, lp Disc jockey = dj
Doctor = dr, gp Drip = iv Drug = c, e, h Dry = aa, tt
Duck = o Duplicate = cc
E
Each = ea East = e Ecstasy = e Editor = ed
Egg = o Electricity = ac, dc Electronic = e Energy = e, j
Engineer = ce, me, re English = e, en Escape = esc Established = est
Europe = ec, eu Exercise = pe Excessive = ott Explosives = he, tnt
Extra = b, w, x, lb, nb Extra time = et
F
Fahrenheit = f Father = fr Fellow = f Female = f
Firm = co, inc Fleet = rn Flyers = raf Flying bomb = vi
Foot = ft Footballers = fa, fc For example = eg Force = f, n
Former = ex Frenchman = m Frenchwoman = mme Frequency = fm, lw, mw
G
Game = ru Gas = cs General = gen Gigabyte = gb
Girl = g Gold = or Golfers = pga Good = g
Good man = st Good mark = a Graduate = ba, ma Gram = g
Grand = g, k Ground = g Group = gp Gun = ak, bb, ppk
H
Heading = e, n, s, w Headquarters = hq Hectare = ha Height = h
Heroin = h Holy man = st Hoop = o Horse = g, gg
Horsepower = hp Hospital = h Hospital unit = ent Host = mc
Hot = h Hour = h, hr Husband = h
I
Inch = in Inn = ph Intelligence = iq Interest = apr
International = i Island = is
J
Jack = j, ab, os, abs Jet = mig Jolly = rm Journalist = ed
Judge = j, ref Junction = t Junior = jr
K
Kelvin = k Kick-off = ko Kilo = k Kilobyte = kb
Kilogram = kg Kilometre = km King = k, r, hm, hrh Kiss = x
Knave = j Knight = n, kt, kbe Knockout = ko Knot = kn, kt
L
Lake = l Large = l Late = d, ex, dec Lawrence = dh, te
Lawyer = kc, qc Learner = l Left = l Leg bye = lb
Length = l Lieutenant = lt Litre = l Local = ph
Longwave = lw Loud = f Loudspeaker = pa Love = o
M
Magistrate = jp Maiden = m Main road = a, m Male = m
Manuscript = ms Map = os Marines = rm Married = m
Mass = t, kg Master = m, ma, msc Medal = vc, mbe, obe Medic = dr, gp
Medium = m Medium wave = mw Megabyte = mb Memory = ram
Method = mo Metre = m Metropolitan = met Military intelligence = mi
Military police = mp Metropolitan = met Minute = m Model = t
Monarch = k, q, r Morning = am Motorway = m, mi
N
National Insurance = ni Navy = rn Near = nr Network = lan
New = n New Testament = nt No = o No ball = nb
North = n Not applicable = na Not good = ng Note = nb
Nothing = o Now = ad
O
Odds = sp Officer = nco Old = o Old person = oap
Old Testament = ot Operation = op Or nearest offer = ono Ounce = oz
Outside broadcast = ob Over the top = ott Overdose = od Own goal = og
P
Page = p Pages = pp Painter = ra Parking = p
Party = con, lab, lib Pencil = hb Penny = d, p Pensioner = oap
Per = p Phone company = bt Piano = p Plane = mig
Plate = l, p Point = e, n, s, w Pole = n, s Police = cid, met
Policeman = di, pc Policewoman = wpc Politician = mp Post office = po
Postscript = ps Pound = lb Pressure = p Priest = dd, pr, rr
Prime Minister = pm Prisoner = con Prisoner of war = pow Pub = ph
Q
Quarter = q Queen = q, r, er Question = q Quiet = p, qt, sh
R
Race = gp, tt Radio host = dj Railway = r, br, ry Record = cd, ep, lp
Referee = ref, ump Regarding = re Regina = r Republicans = gop, ira
Reserves = ta Resistance = r Retired = ret Reverend = rr, rev
Rex = r Right = r, rt River = r Road = rd, st, ave
Rolls Royce = rr Rook = r Rugby players = rfu Run = r
S
Sailor = ab, os, abs Saint = st Salt = ab, os, abs Sauce = hp
Say = eg Second = s Senior = sr Separatists = eta
Shilling = s Ship = ss, hms Ships = rn Silence = sh
Silk = kc, qc Small = s Soft = p Soldier = gi, ra, re
Son = s Sound level = db South = s Special forces = swat
Speed = kph, mph Spies = mi, cia, sis Start = ko States = us, usa
Stone = st Street = st Students = l, nus Stumped = st
T
Tar = ab, os, abs Tax = ni, vat Teachers = atl, nut Tear gas = cs
Teetotal = aa, tt Television = tv Temperature = c, f Tennis players = atp, lta
That is = ie Time = m, s, t Times = x To be advised = tba
To be confirmed = tbc Trains = br Tory = con
U
United = u University = u Unknown = x, y, z
V
Variable = x, y, z Versus = v, vs Very = v Very large = os
Very loud = ff Very quiet = pp Volt = v Volume = cc, vol
Volunteers = ta
W
Walkover = wo Watt = w Way = rd, st, ave Week = wk
Weight = g, kg, lb, st Wide = w Width = w Wife = w
With = w Without = wo Work = op
Y
Yard = yd Year = y, yr
Z
Zero = o

Other things to remember

Along with the abbreviations listed above, there are some words that setters use to denote letters that can be grouped into different categories. The most widely used are given below:

American states → The abbreviated forms of US states can be used when solving a clue; here's a selection: CA or CAL (California), FL (Florida), GA (Georgia), RI (Rhode Island), VA (Virginia), WA (Washington).

Chemical elements → Knowing the abbreviated symbols for chemical elements often proves useful; some commonly used ones include Ag (silver), Au (gold), C (carbon), Cu (copper), Fe (iron), H (hydrogen), O (oxygen), Sn (tin) and W (tungsten).

Country codes → If a country is given in a clue, it may be that a country code is required for the answer, e.g. CH (Switzerland), DE (Germany), FR (France), GB or UK (United Kingdom), IE (Ireland), JP (Japan).

Days & months → Shortened forms of both days and months can be used in answers, for example: Mon, Thu, Jan, Jul etc.

Greek letters → Some Greek letters have English equivalents, such as a for alpha, b for beta and k for kappa.

Roman numerals → The fact that Roman numerals are expressed as letters means they are often used in crosswords. They are I for 1, V for 5, X for 10, L for 50, C for 100, D for 500 and M for 1000. If a clue contained the number six or 54, for example, then it may require the letters VI or LIV respectively to be used in the answer.

Musical notes → A, B, C, D, E, F or G.

Phonetic alphabet → The NATO system assigns a word for each letter of the letter, i.e. Bravo for B. Other examples are Echo for E, Golf for G, Oscar for O, Tango for T and Uniform for U.