The National Archives
Search our website
  • Search our website
  • Search our records
Latin Palaeography

Lesson One - Abbreviations

Back to lessons

A symbol similar to a number 9 after a word ending in a consonant, usually indicates that the letters us have been left out.
edric[us]

Suspension
Suspension

The abbreviation tnc with a stroke above the c is used for tunc.
T[u]nc

Contraction
Contraction

The abbreviation m with a superscript o is used for modo.
m[od]o

Contraction
Contraction

A mark or loop above a t can indicate that the letters er have been left out.
t[er]re

Contraction
Contraction

A stroke upon the last letter of a word, when this letter is a vowel, usually indicates that the letter m or n should be added to the end of the word.  In the majority of documents this will appear as a horizontal stroke.
omne[m]

Suspension
Suspension

This is an abbreviation for the nominative and accusative plural of homo, hominis (m.)
ho[min]es

Contraction
Contraction

This is an abbreviation for teneo, tenere, tenui, tentum (2).
ten[et]

Suspension
Suspension

The word dominus, -i (m.) is abbreviated to dni with a stroke above the i, indicating that the letters omi have been missed out.  This is common in all words which have a domi prefix, such as dominicus, -a, -um, and is indicated by an abbreviation mark above the word
d[omi]nio

Contraction
Contraction

The abbreviation which resembles a semi-colon or sometimes the number ‘3’ is used for the us ending of datives and ablative plurals.
vallib[us]

Suspension
Suspension

When the letter p has a horizontal stroke through its descender, this usually means that the letters er or ar should be added to make per or par.
paup[er]es   

Abreviation
P abbreviation

When the letter p has a loop on the left hand side of the descender, this usually means that the letters ro should be added to make pro.
p[ro]

Abreviation
P abbreviation

A stroke through the ascender of a letter, such as b, l or h means that the letters ‘er’ have been left out.
rotb[er]t[us] 

Abreviation
er abbreviation

Words for units of money, such as libra, libre (f.), solidus, -i (m.) and denarius, -ii (m.) ‘penny’ are usually abbreviated to either the first letter or the first two or three letters of the respective words, with the last letter having a horizontal stroke through it.
lib[ras]

Abreviation
Money abbreviations

This is an abbreviation for the verb reddo, reddere, reddidi, redditum (3).
redd[unt]

Suspension
Suspension

This is an abbreviation for the verb valeo, valere, valui, valitum (2) and is abbreviated to val with a horizontal line through the l. val[et]

Suspension
Suspension

t. r. e. or  t. R. E. is used for tempore Regis Edwardi (‘at the time of King Edward’) and refers to King Edward the Confessor. It is often translated as ‘before 1066’.
t[empore] r[egis] e[dwardi]

Initial Letters
Initial letters

This is an example of the ampersand sign which means et.  It can take several forms, but in this instance it is very similar to a sign for ‘and’ in modern English and so should be easier to recognise.
et

Symbols
Symbols

In this document, this symbol is also used to represent et.
et

Symbols
Symbols