Introduction

Pharmacy abbreviations and acronyms are an effective means through which medical instructions can be transmitted from the prescriber to the pharmacist and their team. 

Below, we’ve put together a list of the most commonly used pharmacy abbreviations; the ones you are most likely to encounter. Bear in mind that these abbreviations are always under review. This ensures the most optimum abbreviations are used that do not cause confusion. For example – one abbreviation may be very similar to another, yet have an entirely different meaning – causing unwanted conflict and medical error.

Pharmacy Abbreviations and Acronyms

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

If you’d like to test your knowledge of pharmacy abbreviations, check out this quiz we’ve put together. Ten questions that test your understanding of the abbreviations and acronyms tabulated below.