How to Abbreviate County

The word “county” is frequently used in addresses and other places where shorthand is needed. When brevity is needed, it is sometimes necessary to abbreviate “county” to save space. In this article we will teach you how to abbreviate the word “county,” but let’s first start with a definition.

Definition of County

The word county has quite a few definitions under its belt due to the way it’s handled based on the region, but in general the word is closely associated to the concept of territory and plots of land.

In the United States of America, a County is usually defined as:

  • The largest political or administrative division present in a state. Or
  • A specific territory inside a State that has a higher relevance than its peers in the region.

However in the United Kingdom and neighboring countries while the word county still is tied to the idea of territory the meaning changes a bit, in those cases county can be defined as: A political division of a country that forms the largest unit of local government in the area.

To summarize in the US a county is a unit inside a state, whereas in the UK a county can in many ways be seen as a state equivalent on its own.

How Do You Abbreviate County

Due to the peculiarities of the word there isn’t a single abbreviation for county that works for all its meanings. So in order to be able to abbreviate county properly, we’ll have to look at three separate abbreviations one at a time.

The first abbreviation for county is “CTY” which is mainly used in the American context of the word. The British generally use the abbreviation “COU”. Finally, we have a third option in the form of “CO” which is a bit more unique.

We’ll delve below into what’s the right context to use each abbreviation, but those are the three, in general, the commonly accepted abbreviations for the word county.

Synonyms for County

Some of the most common synonyms for county are: Division, Shire, Canton and Constituency.

Due to the political relevance of counties it’s not uncommon to see people refer to the government of one as county as well. In this context the usual synonyms for government can be used, but this is not always the case, and attention should always be paid to the context of the word.

When to Use the Abbreviations

As we said before “CTY” is the abbreviation most commonly found in the US, and it should be used when we are talking to a governmental county, a political subdivision in a state, like Dade County in Florida.

“COU” in the same vein is used when we refer to the British meaning of the word, so a territory that isn’t tied to another state, and due to how much more common the word county is in the United Kingdom this is likely the main abbreviation you’ll see and use in your day to day life.

The third abbreviation might come out of left field, but the abbreviation “CO” should be used in the context of genealogy reports. Due to the repetition of the word county in particular for British records in genealogy the word is consistently shortened, and it developed its own abbreviation in the form of “CO”

Outside of those examples the general rules of abbreviation remains, so the only real time to use them is when saving on the character count really is important.

Some Examples of When to Use the Abbreviations

  • He lives in Dade CTY.
  • Darlington is located in COU Durham.
  • Albert White, Grandfather, CO Durham.

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