Clarifying German Abbreviations usw.

Screen Shot 2012 06 10 At 13 16 22

Clarifying German Abbreviations usw.

German learners very quickly become familiar with how long German words can get. One example of this is:


For this reason German speakers love to use abbreviations (die Abkürzung), the above example’s abbreviation though would probably read like a word if there were more vowels (der Vokal / Selbstlaut) in it: DDSKWVPVPVABK. Whether you live in the German speaking world or not you’ve surely encountered some of these German abbreviations:


BMW: Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (Bavarian Motor Works)

VW: Volkswagen (People’s Car)

DB: Deutsche Bundesbahn (German Federal Railway)

DB: Deutsche Bank (German Bank)

ÖBB: Österreichische Bundesbahn (Austrian Federal Railway)

SBB: Schweizerische Bundesbahn (Swiss Federal Railways)

ZKB: Zürcher Kantonalbank (Zurich Cantonal Bank)

German speakers like to read out the abbreviations like words when it’s possible and this has led to the creation of new words:


Einkausgenossenschaft der Kolonialwarenhändler = E. d. K. = Edeka (One of Germany’s largest supermarket chains)

Kaufhaus des Westens = KaDeWe (The largest luxury department store in Berlin)

Adolf (Adi) Dassler = Adidas

Hans Riegel Bonn = HARIBO


All of these abbreviations are fine when they are related to things and places, but there are many more abbreviations that German speakers use that are not. In fact I’ve used one already that some of you might not know: z.B. zum Beispiel (for example) Let’s look at some of the other abbreviations that you will probably encounter in your everyday life reading German:

Abbreviation / AbkürzungFull GermanEnglishNotes
Abk.AbkürzungabbreviationYes, even abbreviation has an abbreviation
AGAktiengesellschaftcorporation, inc.You see this at the end of many company names.
AGArbeitsgruppework group
best.bestimmt-certain / specifically
bzw.beziehungsweiseespectively, and/or
ca.zirka, circaabout, circa
d.das istthat is
d.h.das heisstthat means
EDAEidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige AngelegenheitenSwiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs
EDVelektronische Datenverarbeitungdata processingYou’ll often see this on CVs “EDV-Kenntnisse” meaning computer literacy. This is where you list what computer skills you have.
GmbHGesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftunglimited liability company, ltd.Many companies have this at the end of their name. der Regelgenerally Höhe vonin the amount of Verbindung mitIn conjunction
KJKalenderjahrcalendar year, legal year
KWKalenderwochecalendar weekGerman speakers often use weeks (1-52) when talking about project deadlines and holidays.
MfGMit freundlichen GrüssenKind regardsOften used at the end of e-mails.
MwStMehrwertsteuervalue added tax, VAT
o.ä.oder ähnlichor the like, or similar
PLZPostleitzahlpostal code
Stv.Stellvertretendrepresentative, actingUsually in letters from officials where they state their position.
u.v.a.und viele andereand many other
uRwgum Rückantwort wird gebetenPlease respond
usw.und so weiteret cetera, and so on
vgl.vergleichecompare, confer (cf.)
w.n.d.k.wenn nichts dazwischen kommtbarring unforeseen circumstances
wg.wegenbecause of, due to
übertr.übertragencarried forward
z.B.zum Beispielfor example, ie., eg.
z.G.zu Gunstenin favour of, balance in favourz.B. Saldo zu Ihren Gunsten (balance in your favour)
z.Lzu Lastenat the expense ofz.B. Saldo zu Ihren Lasten (balance in our favour)
z.Zt.zur Zeitat the moment

There we have it, 40 common German abbreviations and their meanings. If you’ve run across an abbreviation that you can’t find the meaning of, and yes there are far more than just these 42, visit Abkü There you’ll at least find the full German word and from there you can reference a dictionary.


What do these German abbreviations stand for?

  1. i.V. (per procurationem)
  2. Dr. (doctor)
  3. vgl. (compare)
  4. allg. (general, gernerally)
  5. usf. (and so on)
  6. usw. (et cetera)
  7. Vorn. (first name)
  8. ehem. (former, late)
  9. sen. (senior)
  10. z.B. (for example)
  11. v.Chr. (before Christ)
  12. m.E. (with success)
  13. jun. (junior)
  14. ca. (about)
  15. dt. (German)

What is the abbreviation for the following common German words and expressions?

  1. unter Umständen (possibly)
  2. Professor (professor)
  3. verheiratet (married)
  4. Artikel (article)
  5. bitte wenden (please turn over)
  6. siehe unten (see below, vide infra)
  7. gegründet (established, founded)
  8. dergleichen (such, like that)
  9. Seite (page)
  10. im Auftrag (on behalf of)
  11. und so weiter (et cetera)
  12. Nominativ (nominative)
  13. telefonisch (by telephone)
  14. bestimmt (specifically)
  15. eigentlich (actually)
  1. die Lösungen zu den Übungen:

    Aufgabe 1:
    1. in Vertretung
    2. Doktor
    3. vergleiche
    4. allgemein
    5. und so fort
    6. und so weiter
    7. Vorname
    8. ehemalig
    9. senior
    10. zum Beispiel
    11. vor Christus
    12. mit Erfolg
    13. junior
    14. circa
    15. deutsch

    Aufgabe 2:
    1. u.U.
    2. Prof.
    3. verh.
    4. Art.
    5. b.w.
    6. s.u.
    7. gegr.
    8. dergl.
    9. S.
    10. i.A.
    11. usw.
    12. Nom.
    13. tel.
    14. best.
    15. eigentl.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: