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Full stoplessness of BTW

Asked by [ Admin ]

If abbreviations must always be marked with a full stop why is the abbreviation for by the way "btw" and not "btw."?

Ref: Answer to 'Is it always “etc.”?'.

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2 answers


donald remero [ Moderator ]

Yeah, I don't think the answer to the question about "etc." is entirely accurate.

Chicago makes this comment on the subject:

It is often an open question whether or not periods should be used with particular abbreviations. The trend now is strongly away from the use of periods with all kinds of abbreviations that have carried them in the past.

For formal writing, virtually everyone agrees that acronyms or initialisms (I learned a new word today), that is abbreviations created from the first letter of a group of words, should in most instances be set in all capital letters. Exceptions to this include "radar" and "snafu" -- instances where most people can no longer remember (or don't even know at all) what the acronym stands for.

BTW is not, however, an abbreviation that would be acceptable in most formal situations. Informally and on small-platform devices and in restricted-character mediums (chat, SMS, and so forth), it is, of course, perfectly common, and for various mechanical reasons is often not capitalized -- along with most everything else.

NN comments
peter mortensen
Remero: Should the Wiktionary entry for “btw” be changed then? For example, to: “Informal way of writing BTW”. I don’t know if it is similar, but the entry for “eg” says “Informal way of writing e.g.”

donald remero

Hm… maybe something like “uncapitalized variation of BTW. Common to text-messaging, online chat, and other electronic formats that rely heavily on short-hand abbreviations and relaxed standards of capitalization.” Then, I would probably flag BTW as informal in the main BTW entry. It seems to me that the Wiktionary should have some evolving way to identify entries as informal and/or as mainly related to the Internet. I’m thinking of the chiefly dial, chiefly Brit or colloq tags that you see in the established dictionaries.

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robertd [ Editor ]

Initialisms such as ASAP, NASA, and MPH tend not to take a final period/full stop; the rule is apparently doubly true for such breathless online-speak expressions as brb, btw, and lol.

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