This does not set out to be a complete list of all abbreviations used in English, but only a selection of those which are likely from time to time occur in crossword clues.

For instance, KCMG is the abbreviation for Knight Commander of (the Order of) St Michael and St George - but the chances of a compiler wishing to write a clue for those four letters in that order are remote to the point of non-existence, so that abbreviation will not be included in this list.

OBE, however, the abbreviation for Officer of (the Order of) the British Empire, could be quite useful for a word like STROBE, SOBER or WARDROBE, so it is included.


  1. The abbreviation is given first, but remember that it is probably what you as a solver will be looking for.
  2. Some abbreviations are in upper-case (capital letters), some in lower-case (small letters), and some in a combination of both. Remember you will always be using upper-case.
  3. The clue will probably be rather oblique. "A graduate" or "a scholar" will probably be a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or an MA (Master of Arts).
  4. Remember to check the other Useful Lists too, for example the Chemical Elements and Roman Numerals.

This page will be expanded and updated from time to time.

The List:

A1 First class (ship in Lloyd's Register)
AA Automobile Association
AB or ABS Able-bodied seaman
AC Alternating current
a/c Account
ACA Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants
ACC Army Catering Corps; acceptance, accepted; account
ACM Air Chief Marshal
AD (Latin Anno Domini) In the year of our Lord
ad lib (Latin ad libitum) at will
ADC Aide-de-camp
AFC Air Force Cross
AFL American Federation of Labour
AFM Air Force Medal
AFS Auxiliary Fire Service
AI American Institute
AIB Associate of the Institute of Bankers
AID Artificial Insemination Donor
AIF Australian Imperial Forces
ALA American Library Association; Associate of the Library Association
AM Master of Arts (see also MA)
ANZAC Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
AP Associated Press
AR (Latin anno regni) in the year of the reign
ARA Associate of the Royal Academy
ARCA Associate of the Royal College of Art
ARCM Associate of the Royal College of Music
ARP Air Raid Precautions
ATC Air Training Corps
AV Authorized Version (Bible)
AWOL Absent without leave
B Bachelor; black (of pencils, ie soft)
BA Bachelor of Arts
Bart, Bt Baronet
BB Very black (of pencils)
BBC British Broadcasting Corporation
BC Before Christ; British Columbia
BEM British Empire Medal
BL Bachelor of Law; British Legion
BM Bachelor of Medicine; British Museum
BMA British Medical Association
BR British Railways (previously)
BS Bachelor of Surgery
BSc Bachelor of Science
BSI British Standards Institution
BST British Summer Time
CA Chartered Accountant
CAB Citizens' Advice Bureau
CBE Commander of the Order of the British Empire
CC Carbon copy (copy to)
CD Compact disc
CE Chief Engineer; Church of England
cf (Latin confer) compare
CH Companion of Honour
CI Channel Islands
CIA Central Intelligence Agency
CID Criminal Investigation Department
CinC Commander in Chief
circ, c (Latin circa) about (in time)
CO Commanding Officer
COD Cash on delivery
Col Colonel
con (Latin contra) against
DC District of Columbia
DD Doctor of Divinity
Dr Doctor
DSM Distinguished Service Medal
DSO Distinguished Service Order
DV (Latin deo volente) God willing
EE Early English
eg (Latin empli gratia) for example
ER Emergency Room (US Accident & Emergency Department)
ET Extra-terrestrial
etc Etcetera
EU European Union
FA Football Association
FBI Federation of British Industry; Federal Bureau of Investigation
FICA Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants
FLA Fellow of the Library Association
FM Field Marshal
FO Foreign Office
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GB Great Britain
GC George Cross
H Hard (of pencils)
HB Hard and black (medium - of pencils)
HE His (or Her) Excellency; His Eminence
HH His (or Her) Highness; His Holiness (the Pope)
HH Extra hard (or pencils)
HM His (or Her) Majesty
HMS His (Her) Majesty's Ship
Hon Honourable, Honorary
HP High pressure; horse-power
HQ Headquarters
HR House of Representatives
HRH His (Her) Royal Highness
ICI Imperial Chemical Industries
ie (Latin id est) that is
IMF International Monetary Fund
inc Incorporated
IO Intelligence Officer
IOU I owe you
IOW Isle of Wight
IQ Intelligence quotient
IR Inland Revenue
ITA Independent Television Authority
ITN Independent Television News
ITV Independent Television
JP Justice of the Peace
Jr, Jun Junior
KB Knight of the Bath; King's Bench; Knight Bachelor
KC King's Counsel; Kennel Club
LB Bachelor of Letters
LBW Leg before wicket (cricket)
LD Doctor of Letters
LLB Bachelor of Laws
LLD Doctor of Laws
LSE London School of Economics
LSO London Symphony Orchestra
Lt Lieutenant
LTA Lawn Tennis Association
MA Master of Arts
Maj Major
MB Bachelor of Medicine
MBE Member of (the Order of) the British Empire
MC Master of Ceremonies; Member of Congress; Military Cross
MCC Marylebone Cricket Club (governing body of cricket)
MD Doctor of Medicine
MFH Master of Foxhounds
MM Military Medal
MO Medical Officer
MP Member of Parliament; Military Police/Policeman
mpg, mph Miles per gallon, miles per hour
MRCP Member of the Royal College of Physicians
MRCS Member of the Royal College of Surgeons
MRCVS Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
MSc Master of Science
MS, MSS Manuscript, manuscripts
MTB Motor Torpedo Boat
NAAFI Navy, Army and Air Force Institute
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
NB (Latin nota bene) Mark well
NCO Non commissioned officer
NFU National Farmers' Union
NHI National Health Insurance
NRA National Rifle Association
NT New Testament
NUJ National Union of Journalists
NUR National Union of Railwaymen
NUS National Union of Students
NUT National Union of Teachers
NZ New Zealand
OAP Old Age Pension or Pensioner
OBE Officer of (the Order of) the British Empire
OC Officer Commanding
OECD Organisation for European Co-operation and Development
OHMS On His (or Her) Majesty's Service
OM Order of Merit
OP Opposite the Prompt side (of stage - theatrical)
OR Other ranks (military)
OS Ordnance Survey
OT Old Testament
OTC Officers' Training Corps
PA Press Association
PAYE Pay As You Earn (income tax)
PC Police Constable; politically correct
PhD Doctor of Philosophy
PM Prime Minister; post meridiem (afternoon); post mortem (autopsy)
PO Petty Officer; Post Office
POW Prisoner of War
pp Printed pages; very softly (music)
PR Proportional representation; public relations
PRA President of the Royal Academy (of Art)
PRB Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
ps (Latin post scriptum) postscript
pt, pe Physical training, physical exercise
pto Please turn over
QB, QC Queen's Bench, Queen's Counsel
QED (Latin quod erat demonstrandum) Which was to be proved
QM Quartermaster
RA Royal Academy (of Art; also Royal Academician, a member); Royal Artillery
RAC Royal Automobile Club
RADA Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
RAF Royal Air Force
RCMP Royal Canadian Mounted Police
RE, REME Royal Engineers, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
RFC Royal Flying Corps (precursor of RAF)
RHS Royal Horticultural Society
RIBA Royal Institute of British Architects
RIP (Latin Requiescat in pace) (May he/she) rest in peace
RLS Robert Louis Stevenson
RMS Royal Mail Steamer
RN Royal Navy
RNLI Royal National Lifeboat Institution
ROC Royal Observer Corps
RSA Royal Scottish Academy or Academician
RSM Regimental Sergeant-Major
RSPCA Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
RSVP (French Repondez s'il vous plait) Please reply
Rt Right
RV Revised Version (Bible)
SEATO South-East Asia Treaty Organisation
SHAPE Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
SJ Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
SMO Senior Medical Officer
SOS Save Our Souls
SPQR (Latin Senatus populusque Romani) The Senate and people of Rome
Sr, Sen Senior
SRN State Registered Nurse
SS Steamship
TA Territorial Army
TGWU Transport & General Workers' Union
TNT Trinitrotoluol (explosive)
TT Teetotaller; Tourist Trophy (motorcycle race); tuberculin tested
TU, TUC Trade Union, Trade Union Congress
TV Television
TVA Tennessee Valley Authority
UAR United Arab Republic
UFO Unidentified Flying Object
UK United Kingdom (Great Britain)
ult (Latin ultimo) Last (as last month)
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNICEF United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund
UNO United Nations Organisation
US, USA United States, United States of America
USAAF United States Army Air Force
USS United States Steamer (or ship)
USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (previously)
VC Victoria Cross; Vice Chairman or Chancellor
VHF Very high frequency (radio)
VIP Very Important Person
WHO World Health Organisation
WI West Indies; Women's Institute
WRAC Women's Royal Army Corps
WRAF Women's Royal Air Force
WRNS Women's Royal Naval Service ("Wrens")
WS Writer to the Signet (Scottish lawyer)
WVS, WRVS Women's Voluntary Services now Women's Royal Voluntary Services
YHA Youth Hostels Association
YMCA Young Men's Christian Association
YWCA Young Women's Christian Association
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