Posted by: Jack Henry | June 10, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Clipped Words

Good morning and welcome to a new day. Today’s topic is “clipped words.” I’m talking about words that we shorten to save ourselves the inconvenience of saying or writing extra syllables. For example, we have all gotten used to the clipped word bot as a stand-in for robot. And you’re all too familiar with the clipped word flu, which is short for influenza.

You get the picture.

There are four types of clipped words: final clipping (also known as back clipping), initial clipping (also known as fore clipping), middle clipping (also known as medial clipping or syncope), and complex clipping. I’ll explain each one and provide examples.

  • Final clipping:This is the most common type of clipping. We keep the first part of the word and clip the final part. Examples include ad (advertisement), exam (examination), and gas (gasoline).
  • Initial clipping:As expected, initial clipping clips syllables from the beginning of a word. Some examples are phone (telephone), gator (alligator), bot (robot), and Beth (Elizabeth).
  • Medial clipping: This type of clipped word is less common. It usually occurs when you remove some letters from the middle of a word. You are familiar with the word ma’am, which is a clipped form of madam. This type of clipping is common in poetry where you might see heav’n stand in for heaven or ne’er used in place of never.
  • Complex clipping: This kind of clipping happens with compound words that have two or more components. These words are clipped in lots of different ways. Here are some examples: motel (motor hotel), sitcom (situation comedy), and op art (optical art).

English is full of these kinds of words. And now you know what to call them. After this past year of isolation, I don’t know about you, but I feel like my chitchat skills are a little rusty. Now that I have some quirky information to share, I feel a lot more confident. Oh yes, I plan to take the rest of 2021 by storm!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

Pronouns she/her/hers

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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