CLIPPING, also clipped form, clipped word, shortening. An ABBREVIATION formed by the loss of word elements, usually syllabic: pro from professional, tec from detective. The process is attested from the 16c (coz from cousin 1559, gent from gentleman 1564); in the early 18c, Swift objected to the reduction of Latin mobile vulgus (the fickle throng) to mob. Clippings can be either selective, relating to one sense of a word only (condo is short for condominium when it refers to accommodation, not to joint sovereignty), or polysemic (rev stands for either revenue or revision, and revs for the revolutions of wheels). There are three kinds of clipping:
1. Back-clippings, in which an element or elements are taken from the end of a word: ad(vertisement), chimp(anzee), deli(catessen), hippo(potamus), lab(oratory), piano(forte), reg(ulation)s. Backclipping is common with DIMINUTIVES formed from personal names: Cath(erine), Will(iam). Clippings of names often undergo adaptations: Catherine to the pet forms Cathie, Kate, Katie, William to Willie, Bill, Billy. Sometimes, a clipped name can develop a new sense: willie a euphemism for penis, billy a club or a male goat. Occasionally, the process can be humorously reversed: for example, offering in a British restaurant to pay the william.
2. Fore-clippings,in which an element or elements are taken from the beginning of a word: (ham)burger, (omni)bus, (violon)cello, (heli)copter, (alli)gator, (tele)phone, (earth)quake. They also occur with personal names, sometimes with adaptations: Becky for Rebecca, Drew for Andrew, Ginny for Virginia. At the turn of the century, a fore-clipped word was usually given an opening APOSTROPHE, to mark the loss: 'phone, 'cello, 'gator. This practice is now rare.
3. Fore-and-aft clippings,in which elements are taken from the beginning and end of a word: (in)flu(enza), (de)tec(tive). This is commonest with longer personal names: Lex from Alexander, Liz from Elizabeth. Such names often demonstrate the versatility of hypocoristic clipping: Alex, Alec, Lex, Sandy, Zander; Eliza, Liz, Liza, Lizzie, Bess, Betsy, Beth, Betty. Clippings are not necessarily uniform throughout a language: mathematics becomes maths in BrE and math in AmE. Reverend as a title is usually shortened to Rev or Rev., but is Revd in the house style of Oxford University Press. Back-clippings with -ie and -o are common in AUSTRALIAN ENGLISH and NZE: arvo afternoon, journo journalist. Sometimes clippings become distinct words far removed from the applications of the original full forms: fan in fan club is from fanatic; BrE navvy, a general labourer, is from a 19c use of navigator, the digger of a ‘navigation’ or canal. See APHAERESIS, APOCOPE, COMPOUND WORD, EPONYM, WORDFORMATION.
clip·ping / ˈkliping/ • n. (often clippings) a small piece trimmed from something. ∎ an article cut from a newspaper or magazine.
clipping The process in computer graphics of removing part of an object outside a specified region. Only that part within the specified region is passed on for further processing.
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