abbreviate (v.) Look up abbreviate at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "to make shorter," from Latin abbreviatus, past participle of abbreviare "to shorten, make brief," from span class="foreign">ad "to" (see ad-) + breviare "shorten," from brevis "short, low, little, shallow" (see brief (adj.)).

Specifically of words by 1580s. Also sometimes 15c. abbrevy, from Middle French abrevier (14c.), from Latin abbreviare. Related: Abbreviated; abbreviating.