A breviograph or brevigraph (from Latin: brevis, short, and Greek grapho, to write) is a type of scribal abbreviation in the form of an easily written symbol, character, flourish or stroke, based on a modified letter form to take the place of a common letter combination, especially those occurring at the beginning or end of a word. Breviographs were used frequently by stenographers, law clerks and scriveners, and they were also found in early printed books and tracts.[1] Their use declined after the 17th century.


Examples of breviographs:[2][3][4]

  • & — et (e.g. &c = etc)
  • ⋅i⋅ — id est
  • ꝑ — per-, pre-, or par- (e.g. ꝑson = person)
  • ß — ser-, sur-, or sir- (e.g. ßuaunt = seruaunt = servant)
  • X — Christ- (e.g. Xian = Christian)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Tannenbaum, Samuel A. The Handwriting of the Renaissance (1931), New York: Columbia UP, 125-134.
  2. ^ Zurcher, Andrew. "Basic Conventions for Transcription". English Handwriting 1500-1700: An Online Course. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  3. ^ Reed, Melania Sánchez (2011). "Transcribing Mediaeval Science for Electronic Editions". In García Ruano, Javier (ed.). Current Trends in Anglophone Studies. Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca. p. 134. ISBN 9788478001576.
  4. ^ "Alphabet Abbreviations" (PDF). Practical Paleography. Folger Shakespeare Library.


  • Elaine E. Whitaker, "Lacunae and the id est Brevigraph in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodley 283," Manuscripta 36, no. 3 (1992), 191-99.