The 150 most useful Business English abbreviations

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

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. 

  1. a/c – account
  2. ad – advertisement
  3. advert – advertisement
  4. AGM – annual general meeting (= shareholders’ meeting)
  5. AOB – any other business (= anything else that needs to be discussed)
  6. approx. – approximately (= around/ about/ more or less)
  7. APR – annual percentage rate (interest, for example of a credit card)
  8. asap/ ASAP – as soon as possible
  9. ATB – All the best (closing greeting of an email)
  10. attn. – attention/ for the attention of
  11. B2B – business to business
  12. B/L – bill of lading
  13. BCC – blind carbon copy
  14. BoD – board of directors
  15. BoE – Bank of England
  16. BR – Best regards
  17. BW – Best wishes (informal closing greeting of an email)
  18. CC – carbon copy (meaning copying someone in when you send an email)
  19. CEO – chief executive officer
  20. CFO – chief financial officer
  21. CIF – cost, insurance and freight
  22. CIO – chief investment officer/ chief information officer
  23. Co./ (and) Co. – (and) Company
  24. c/o – care of
  25. CoD – cash on delivery
  26. COO – chief operating officer
  27. co-op – cooperative
  28. Corp. – Corporation
  29. CPA – certified public accountant
  30. CPI – consumer price index (an inflation figure)
  31. CRM – customer relationship management
  32. CSR – corporate social responsibility
  33. CTO – chief technology officer
  34. CV – curriculum vitae (= résumé)
  35. demo – (political/ product) demonstration
  36. dept. – department (written abbreviation)
  37. DTI – Department of Trade and Industry
  38. EBITDA – earning before interests, taxes, depreciation and amortization
  39. enc. – enclosed (like “attached” but meaning inside an envelope)
  40. ETA – estimated time of arrival (also used for information, etc)
  41. EU – European Union
  42. exec(s) – executive(s)
  43. expo – exposition
  44. F/T – full time
  45. FAO – for the attention of
  46. FAQ – frequently asked question(s)
  47. FCA – Financial Conduct Authority
  48. fig.– figure, as in “figure 1”
  49. fin tech – financial technology
  50. forex/ FX – foreign exchange
  51. FSA – Financial Services Authority
  52. FT – Financial Times
  53. FTA – free trade agreement
  54. FTSE – Financial Times Stock Exchange (index)
  55. FY – financial year (as in FY2018)
  56. fwd/ FWD – forward/ forwarded (meaning “send on/ sent on”)
  57. FYI – (just) for your information
  58. GBP – (Great British) pounds
  59. GDP – gross domestic product
  60. GM – general manager/ General Motors
  61. GMT – Greenwich Mean Time
  62. GNP – gross national product
  63. GST – goods and services tax
  64. HM Treasury – Her Majesty’s Treasury/ His Majesty’s Treasury (the finance ministry of the UK)
  65. HMRC – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs/ His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
  66. HP – hire purchase
  67. HQ – headquarters (= head office) (not “headquarter” X)
  68. HR (department) – human resources (department) (= personnel department) (not “human resource” X)
  69. Inc./ inc. – Incorporated/ including…
  70. info – information
  71. IoT – the internet of things
  72. IOU – I owe you
  73. IP – intellectual property
  74. IPO – initial public offering
  75. IRS – Internal Revenue Service
  76. ISA – Individual Savings Account
  77. ISP – internet service provider
  78. KPI – key performance indicators
  79. LIBOR – London Interbank Offered Rate
  80. LNG – liquid natural gas
  81. LSE – London School of Economics and Political Science/ London Stock Exchange
  82. Ltd – limited (company/ liability company)
  83. M&A – mergers and acquisition
  84. m/ M – million (as in $15m)
  85. max – maximum
  86. MBA – Master of Business Administration
  87. MD – managing director
  88. 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)
  89. MENA – Middle East and North Africa
  90. mil – millimetres/ million
  91. min – minimum (= at least)/ minute(s) (written abbreviation)
  92. mod cons – modern conveniences
  93. N/A – not applicable
  94. NAFTA – North American Free Trade Association
  95. NB – From Latin “nota bene” meaning “note well” (= “Please note that…”)
  96. NI – Northern Ireland (written abbreviation)/ national insurance (number)
  97. NSFW – not safe for work
  98. NYSE – New York Stock Exchange
  99. O/T – overtime (written abbreviation)
  100. OA – office automation
  101. Ofcom – Office of Communications (the UK regulator for TV etc)
  102. P/E (ratio) – price to earnings ratio
  103. P&L – profit and loss (accounts)
  104. p.p. – on behalf of (used at the bottom of letters and emails when someone, e.g. an assistant, writes something for someone else)
  105. p&p – postage and packing
  106. P/T – part time
  107. PA – per annum (= per year)/ public address (system)/ personal assistant
  108. PAYE – pay as you earn
  109. PIN (number) – personal identification number
  110. PLC – public limited company
  111. PO box (no) – post office box (number)
  112. (if) poss. – (if) possible
  113. PR – public relations
  114. PS – post scriptum (from Latin, used for extra information after the end of an email, similar to “btw”)
  115. PTO – please turn over (the page for more information/ for comments)
  116. Q&A (session) – question and answer (session, usually meaning the final part of a presentation)
  117. Q1/ Q2/ Q3/ Q4 – first quarter/ second quarter/ third quarter/ fourth quarter
  118. QE – quantitative easing (an economic policy used after the 2007 recession)
  119. R&D (research and development)
  120. re: – regarding (meaning “concerning”, “about” and so not only used to mean “reply”)
  121. (my/ our/ your) ref – (my/ our/ your) reference
  122. REIT – real estate investment trust
  123. RFID – radio frequency identification (device)
  124. ROE – return on equity
  125. ROI/ RoI – return on investment
  126. RRP – recommended retail price
  127. rules and regs – rules and regulations
  128. sales rep – sales representative (= salesman/ sales executive)
  129. SEC – Securities and Exchange Commission
  130. SEO – search engine optimization
  131. SFO – the Serious Fraud Office
  132. SME – small and medium(-sized) enterprise
  133. specs – specifications
  134. SWOT (analysis) – strengths weaknesses opportunities (and) threats
  135. TBA/ TBC/ TBD – to be announced/ to be arranged/ to be announced/ to be confirmed/ to be decided/ to be determined
  136. tech – technology
  137. telecoms – telecommunications
  138. teleconference – telephone conference
  139. temp – temporary (staff/ worker)
  140. thnx/ thx – thanks
  141. TM – trademark
  142. TQM – total quality management
  143. union – trade union/ labor union
  144. USD – US dollars
  145. USP – (unique) selling points
  146. VAS – value added services
  147. VAT – value added tax (a kind of sales tax/ consumption tax)
  148. VP – vice president
  149. w/o – without
  150. YTD – year to date

Now you've learned the 150 most useful Business English abbreviations you might also be interested in our lists of vital business meetings, telephoning language and emailing language - essential phrases for business communication:

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Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com

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