Prescription abbreviations (and acronyms) form the building blocks of many medical scripts. Their use has, in effect, become a tradition in the medical world – even though their use can only add to the risk of misinterpretation. There are, however, many other reasons why such abbreviations are becoming less and less popular – though their use hasn’t yet entered terminal decline. Nonetheless, students of pharmacy need to become familiar with these prescription abbreviations – a glossary of which can be found tabulated below. Also, check out this quiz if you’d like to test your knowledge of prescription abbreviations – ten questions based on the information provided below.

Abbreviation From the Latin Meaning
aa ana of each
ad ad up to
a.c. ante cibum before meals
a.d. aurio dextra right ear
ad lib. ad libitum use as much as one desires; freely
admov. admove apply
agit agita stir/shake
alt. h. alternis horis every other hour
a.m. ante meridiem morning, before noon
amp ampule
amt amount
aq aqua water
a.l., a.s. aurio laeva, aurio sinister left ear
A.T.C. around the clock
a.u. auris utrae both ears
bis bis twice
b.i.d. bis in die twice daily
B.M. bowel movement
bol. bolus as a large single dose (usually intravenously)
B.S. blood sugar
B.S.A body surface areas
cap., caps. capsula capsule
c cum with (usually written with a bar on top of the “c”)
c cibos food
cc cum cibos with food, (but also cubic centimetre)
cf with food
comp. compound
cr., crm cream
D5W dextrose 5% solution (sometimes written as D 5 W)
D5NS dextrose 5% in normal saline (0.9%)
D.A.W. dispense as written
dc, D/C, disc discontinue
dieb. alt. diebus alternis every other day
dil. dilute
disp. dispense
div. divide
d.t.d. dentur tales doses give of such doses
D.W. distilled water
elix. elixir
e.m.p. ex modo prescripto as directed
emuls. emulsum emulsion
et et and
ex aq ex aqua in water
fl., fld. fluid
ft. fiat make; let it be made
g gram
gr grain
gtt(s) gutta(e) drop(s)
H hypodermic
h, hr hora hour
h.s. hora somni at bedtime
ID intradermal
IM intramuscular (with respect to injections)
inj. injectio injection
IP intraperitoneal
IV intravenous
IVP intravenous push
IVPB intravenous piggyback
L.A.S. label as such
LCD coal tar solution
lin linimentum liniment
liq liquor solution
lot. lotion
M. misce mix
m, min minimum a minimum
mcg microgram
mEq milliequivalent
mg milligram
mist. mistura mix
mitte mitte send
mL millilitre
nebul nebula a spray
N.M.T. not more than
noct. nocte at night
non rep. non repetatur no repeats
NS normal saline (0.9%)
1/2NS half normal saline (0.45%)
N.T.E. not to exceed
o_2 both eyes, sometimes written as o 2
o.d. oculus dexter right eye
o.s. oculus sinister left eye
o.u. oculus uterque both eyes
oz ounce
per per by or through
p.c. post cibum after meals
p.m. post meridiem evening or afternoon
prn pro re nata as needed
p.o. per os by mouth or orally
p.r. by rectum
pulv. pulvis powder
q quaque every
q.a.d. quoque alternis die every other day
q.a.m. quaque die ante meridiem every day before noon
q.h. quaque hora every hour
q.h.s. quaque hora somni every night at bedtime
q.1h quaque 1 hora every 1 hour; (can replace “1” with other numbers)
q.d. quaque die every day
q.i.d. quater in die four times a day
q.o.d. every other day
qqh quater quaque hora every four hours
q.s. quantum sufficiat a sufficient quantity
R rectal
rep., rept. repetatur repeats
RL, R/L Ringer’s lactate
s sine without (usually written with a bar on top of the s)
s.a. secundum artum use your judgement
SC, subc, subq, subcut subcutaneous
sig write on label
SL sublingually, under the tongue
sol solutio solution
s.o.s., si op. sit si opus sit if there is a need
ss semis one half
stat statim immediately
supp suppositorium suppository
susp suspension
syr syrupus syrup
tab tabella tablet
tal., t talus such
tbsp tablespoon
troche trochiscus lozenge
tsp teaspoon
t.i.d. ter in die three times a day
t.d.s. ter die sumendum three times a day
t.i.w. three times a week
top. topical
T.P.N. total parenteral nutrition
tr, tinc., tinct. tincture
u.d., ut. dict. ut dictum as directed
ung. unguentum ointment
U.S.P. United States Pharmacopoeia
vag vaginally
w with
w/o without
X times
Y.O. years old
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