The 150 most useful Business English abbreviations

Summary: The most important business acronyms and other ESP abbreviations for EFL learners.

By: | Audience: Teachers | Category: Teaching English for Specific Purposes | Topic: Vocabulary

First Published: 18th Jul. 2018 | Last Edited: 19th Jul. 2018

This is a list of essential acronyms and other abbreviations for people studying Business English. There are also similar lists of general English elsewhere on this site. 

a/c – account

ad – advertisement

advert – advertisement

AGM – annual general meeting (= shareholders’ meeting)

AOB – any other business (= anything else that needs to be discussed)

approx. – approximately (= around/ about/ more or less)

APR – annual percentage rate (interest, for example of a credit card)

asap/ ASAP – as soon as possible

ATB – All the best (closing greeting of an email)

attn. – attention/ for the attention of

B2B – business to business

B/L – bill of lading

BCC – blind carbon copy

BoD – board of directors

BoE – Bank of England

BR – Best regards

BW – Best wishes (informal closing greeting of an email)

CC – carbon copy (meaning copying someone in when you send an email)

CEO – chief executive officer

CFO – chief financial officer

CIF – cost, insurance and freight

CIO – chief investment officer/ chief information officer

Co./ (and) Co. – (and) Company

c/o – care of

CoD – cash on delivery

COO – chief operating officer

co-op – cooperative

Corp. – Corporation

CPA – certified public accountant

CPI – consumer price index (an inflation figure)

CRM – customer relationship management

CSR – corporate social responsibility

CTO – chief technology officer

CV – curriculum vitae (= résumé)

demo – (political/ product) demonstration

dept. – department (written abbreviation)

DTI – Department of Trade and Industry

EBITDA – earning before interests, taxes, depreciation and amortization

enc. – enclosed (like “attached” but meaning inside an envelope)

ETA – estimated time of arrival (also used for information, etc)

EU – European Union

exec(s) – executive(s)

expo – exposition

F/T – full time

FAO – for the attention of

FAQ – frequently asked question(s)

FCA – Financial Conduct Authority

fig.– figure, as in “figure 1”

fin tech – financial technology

forex/ FX – foreign exchange

FSA – Financial Services Authority

FT – Financial Times

FTA – free trade agreement

FTSE – Financial Times Stock Exchange (index)

FY – financial year (as in FY2018)

fwd/ FWD – forward/ forwarded (meaning “send on/ sent on”)

FYI – (just) for your information

GBP – (Great British) pounds

GDP – gross domestic product

GM – general manager/ General Motors

GMT – Greenwich Mean Time

GNP – gross national product

GST – goods and services tax

HM Treasury – Her Majesty’s Treasury/ His Majesty’s Treasury (the finance ministry of the UK)

HMRC – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs/ His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs

HP – hire purchase

HQ – headquarters (= head office) (not “headquarter” X)

HR (department) – human resources (department) (= personnel department) (not “human resource” X)

Inc./ inc. – Incorporated/ including…

info – information

IoT – the internet of things

IOU – I owe you

IP – intellectual property

IPO – initial public offering

IRS – Internal Revenue Service

ISA – Individual Savings Account

ISP – internet service provider

KPI – key performance indicators

LIBOR – London Interbank Offered Rate

LNG – liquid natural gas

LSE – London School of Economics and Political Science/ London Stock Exchange

Ltd – limited (company/ liability company)

M&A – mergers and acquisition

m/ M – million (as in $15m)

max – maximum

MBA – Master of Business Administration

MD – managing director

memo – memorandum (meaning an internal document, usually a group email and usually telling or reminding people what to do – the longer expression is rarely used with this meaning)

MENA – Middle East and North Africa

mil – millimetres/ million

min – minimum (= at least)/ minute(s) (written abbreviation)

mod cons – modern conveniences

N/A – not applicable

NAFTA – North American Free Trade Association

NB – From Latin “nota bene” meaning “note well” (= “Please note that…”)

NI – Northern Ireland (written abbreviation)/ national insurance (number)

NSFW – not safe for work

NYSE – New York Stock Exchange

O/T – overtime (written abbreviation)

OA – office automation

Ofcom – Office of Communications (the UK regulator for TV etc)

P/E (ratio) – price to earnings ratio

P&L – profit and loss (accounts)

p.p. – on behalf of (used at the bottom of letters and emails when someone, e.g. an assistant, writes something for someone else)

p&p – postage and packing

P/T – part time

PA – per annum (= per year)/ public address (system)/ personal assistant

PAYE – pay as you earn

PIN (number) – personal identification number

PLC – public limited company

PO box (no) – post office box (number)

(if) poss. – (if) possible

PR – public relations

PS – post scriptum (from Latin, used for extra information after the end of an email, similar to “btw”)

PTO – please turn over (the page for more information/ for comments)

Q&A (session) – question and answer (session, usually meaning the final part of a presentation)

Q1/ Q2/ Q3/ Q4 – first quarter/ second quarter/ third quarter/ fourth quarter

QE – quantitative easing (an economic policy used after the 2007 recession)

R&D (research and development)

re: – regarding (meaning “concerning”, “about” and so not only used to mean “reply”)

(my/ our/ your) ref – (my/ our/ your) reference

REIT – real estate investment trust

RFID – radio frequency identification (device)

ROE – return on equity

ROI/ RoI – return on investment

RRP – recommended retail price

rules and regs – rules and regulations

sales rep – sales representative (= salesman/ sales executive)

SEC – Securities and Exchange Commission

SEO – search engine optimization

SFO – the Serious Fraud Office

SME – small and medium(-sized) enterprise

specs – specifications

SWOT (analysis) – strengths weaknesses opportunities (and) threats

TBA/ TBC/ TBD – to be announced/ to be arranged/ to be announced/ to be confirmed/ to be decided/ to be determined

tech – technology

telecoms – telecommunications

teleconference – telephone conference

temp – temporary (staff/ worker)

thnx/ thx – thanks

TM – trademark

TQM – total quality management

union – trade union/ labor union

USD – US dollars

USP – (unique) selling points

VAS – value added services

VAT – value added tax (a kind of sales tax/ consumption tax)

VP – vice president

w/o – without

YTD – year to date

Copyright © 2018

Written by Alex Case for

Enjoyed this article?

Please help us spread the word:


Latest from 'Teaching English for Specific Purposes'

Read More »