Abbreviations are always a potential source of confusion. Some people might happen to know what OED stands for, and can figure out what NOAD must mean, but others may not be so lucky. Googling for PIE is rather useless even for native speakers, and completely perplexing to non-native ones.

Thus, let us compile (and maintain) a list of common abbreviations.

Excellent resource but should be linked/incorporated in the FAQ/about. – smci Oct 14 '13 at 15:19
up vote 39 down vote accepted

The following is a list of abbreviations common to all sites of the Stack Exchange network:

  • CWcommunity wiki; a post "owned" by the entire community rather than just the OP
  • EL&U, ELU — short for "English Language and Usage", the name of this site
  • ELL - English Language Learners, a place for questions not sophisticated enough for EL&U
  • GR or Gen Ref - General Reference, meaning that the question can be easily answered using a dictionary, thesaurus, or other easily-found resources; can be a reason for closing a question
  • LMGTFYLet Me Google That For You
  • MSE - Meta Stack Exchange, the discussion site for the entire SE network
  • MSO - Meta Stack Overflow (also meta.SO), the discussion site associated with SO, which was used for SE network-wide discussions, bugs and feature requests before new Meta Stack Exchange was started
  • NARQ — Not A Real Question, a close reason on the network for questions which are often overly broad
  • OP — original poster (the author of a given question) or original post
  • OQ — original question, as opposed to follow-up questions, subsequent edits, or tangential discussion
  • OToff-topic
  • POB — primarily opinion-based
  • SEStack Exchange, our growing network of question-and-answer sites on diverse topics from software programming to cooking to photography and gaming
  • SOStack Overflow, the programming question-and-answer site with which it all began
  • TPTB — The Powers That Be, the team that runs all the sites, as opposed to "mere mortals" such as regular users and moderators alike

The following is a list of abbreviations specific to the culture here on EL&U:

  • GAFTAD — Get A Fine Thesaurus; Also Dictionary.
  • IANAL — I Am Not A Linguist

Some conventions:

  • *X
    • for language history and etymologies, it means X is a reconstructed word but has no known record.
    • for current language use, it means the utterance is ungrammatical/wrong (in the variety considered).
  • ?X means that X is a marginally grammatical utterance (could follow the letter of a rule, but sounds a little wrong, or nobody would actually say it that way).
  • /X/ is the phonemic representation of a word in a given variety. X should be in IPA.
  • [X] is the phonetic representation of a word in a given variety. X should be in IPA.
Should we also include symbols like * for ungrammatical and ? for marginally grammatical in this list? – Kosmonaut Aug 22 '10 at 19:58
@Kosmonaut--totally, though they're not not abbreviations, and I think they should be separate in the FAQ. – Charlie Aug 22 '10 at 22:31
Merriam-Webster could point to and The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary to – Kris Nov 1 '12 at 5:38
Someone said my question is GR. What does that mean? – Pat James May 28 '13 at 14:18
Excellent resource but should be linked/incorporated in the FAQ/about. – smci Oct 14 '13 at 15:18
Personally, I think "MW" should just mean Merriam-Webster, without specification to format or edition. If one wants to specify, one could specify. For instance, if one is referencing Merriam-Webster Online, the abbreviation "MWO" could easily suffice. – SarahofGaia Aug 23 '15 at 16:46
Shouldn't LMGTFY link instead to the post(s) that deprecate its overuse on SE? – Nathan Tuggy May 18 at 22:34
SL&U or SLU is for Spanish Language and Usage – Peanut May 22 at 0:19

Actually there is no need for such a list. When you google for "English abbreviations" you get a lot of websites with abbreviations.


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