Abbreviation for Et Cetera

Instead of writing out every possible thing when writing a list, you may want to use the abbreviation for “et cetera” to say that the list can include further, similar items. But how do you abbreviate the word? Let’s find out.rev

Definition of the Word

Et cetera – this phrase comes from the language Latin and is made up of two words. ‘Et’ in Latin means ‘and’ and ‘cetera’ means ‘the rest’. Therefore, the meaning of the phrase is ‘and the rest’. It is commonly written without a space such as etcetera.

How Do You Abbreviate the Word

The most common abbreviation for etcetera is etc. It is usually written as the three letters ‘etc’ along with a period at the end, denoting that it is an abbreviation for a longer phrase. The most common abbreviations are:

  • etc.
  • etc
  • et cet.
  • &c.
  • &c
  • ect.
  • ect

When used in a list, the abbreviation “etc.” is always preceded by a comma regardless of whether the abbreviation falls in the middle or at the end of a sentence.

Synonyms for the Word

The phrase ‘et cetera’ can be replaced by similar phrases such as ‘and so forth’, ‘and so on’, ‘and suchlike’.

When to Use the Abbreviation

The abbreviation for et cetera etc. is used when a list of items is included in the sentence but the list of included items is not complete, suggesting that there are more items in the list that are similar, but not included in the list. Etc. cannot be used when the additional items not included in the list are not similar to the items already included in the list.

Therefore, the correct usage is to establish the category of items first, and then include a few examples. A correct usage would be – Allow children to only eat healthy food (vegetables, fruits, etc.). However, an incorrect usage would be – Allow children to only eat healthy food (vegetables, cakes, chips, etc.). This is not a correct usage because cakes and chips are not considered healthy food that children should be eating.

Based on the list provided, the reader should be able to correct determine what the category of items is. Therefore, the correct usage would be – Bring paper, pencil, eraser, etc. to the writing class. Incorrect usage would be – Bring paper, pencil, calculators, shoes, etc. to the writing class. In this last sentence, calculators and shoes have no relation to paper and pencil and also, there is no discernable connection between these items and the writing class.

In formal writing, such as research papers and journals, the entire word et cetera is usually used. The abbreviation is only used in less formal contexts such as casual speech or writing.

In American English, if etc. is used in the middle of a sentence, it is followed by a comma. An example of this is:

Basketball, tennis, etc., are outdoor games.

However, if the word is used at the end of a sentence, it is not followed by a comma. An example of this usage is:

Since we were outdoors, we played tennis, basketball, etc.

Another incorrect usage of the word is using the word ‘and’ before etc. Correct usage is – Bring groceries (milk, bread, etc.) from the store. Incorrect usage would be – Bring groceries (milk, bread, and etc.) from the store. Similarly ‘and et cetera’ is incorrect. Since the word ‘et’ means ‘and’, it would use the word ‘and’ twice.

Examples of Sentences Using the Abbreviation

Allen checked his camping equipment (tent, insect repellent, torchlight, etc.) before loading his truck.

The youth camp offers several activities (swimming, basketball, painting, etc.) during the summer.

Examples of usage of etc. from published literature:

“I love you to pieces, distraction, etc.” — J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey


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