Thai Language Thai Culture: Thai Abbreviations Help Us Learn

Thai Language

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Thai Abbreviations Can Help Us Learn Vocabulary, Spelling and Pronunciation…

One chief bugaboo that has plagued me in my endeavors to learn to read Thai is the numerous abbreviations scattered all about newspapers and magazines. I usually end up skipping them when I read, but as they are usually integral to the story line I am forced to look them up later.

After a while (and in my case a long while) I remember a few. And it turns out that once I know what the abbreviation letters stand for, I can remember them more easily. And, as an added attraction, it helps me learn more vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation.

Below are a few abbreviations that you will often run into. Breaking them down is a good way to add to your vocabulary. When you get stuck trying to decipher Thai abbreviations a good resource is where you can look up most of them. It also has a nice list of lots and lots of abbreviations in their reference section.

Bangkok: กทม.
กรุงเทพมหานคร /grung-tâyp-má-hǎa-ná-kon/

City, capital: กรุง /grung/
Angel: เทพ /tâyp/
Great: มหา /má-hǎa/
City,town: นคร /ná-kon/


Literally: The Great (Capital) City of Angels

Motorcycle: จยย.
จักรยานยนต์ /jàk-grà-yaan-yon/

Circle: จักร /jàk/
Vehicle: ยาน /yaan/
Engine: ยนต์ /yon/

Note: Most new learners of Thai will be familiar with the loan word for “motorcycle” มอเตอร์ไซค์ /mor-dter-sai/. จักรยานยนต์ /jàk-grà-yaan-yon/ is more formal, seen more often in writing. When speaking, I use the loan word just like everyone else does. By the way, the word จักรยาน /jàk-grà-yaan/ by itself means “bicycle” (two circles) so จักรยานยนต์ /jàk-grà-yaan-yon/ can mean “a bicycle with an engine”.

Medical Doctor: นพ.
นายแพทย์ /naai-pâet/, and (พญ.) แพทย์หญิง /pâet-yǐng/

Mr: นาย /naai/
Physician: แพทย์ /pâet/
Lady, female: หญิง /yǐng/

Note: There are two different words for physicians, one for males and one for females. Thai also uses another abbreviation for Doctor “ดร.” which is a direct transcription of “Dr.”

Director: ผอ.
ผู้อำนวยการ /pôo-am-nuay-gaan/

Person, one who…: ผู้ /pôo/
To give, produce: อำนวย /am-nuay/
Action: การ /gaan/
To direct: อำนวยการ /am-nuay-gaan/

Buddhist Era, B.E.: พ.ศ.
พุทธศักราช /pút-tá-sàk-gà-ràat/

Buddha, Buddhist: พุทธ /pút, also pút-tá/
Era, period: ศักราช /sàk-gà-ràat/

School: ร.ร.
โรงเรียน /rohng-rian/

Hall, house, building: โรง /rohng/
To study: เรียน /rian/

Hospital: รพ.
โรงพยาบาล /rohng-pá-yaa-baan/

Hall, house, building: โรง /rohng/
To care for, cure: พยาบาล /pá-yaa-baan/

Note: The word พยาบาล /pá-yaa-baan/ is also used to mean “nurse”. Both the noun and the verb form.

Police Station: สน.
สถานีตำรวจ /sà-tǎa-nee-dtam-rùat/

Station: สถานี /sà-tǎa-nee/
Law enforcement officer, police: ตำรวจ /dtam-rùat/

Note: The abbreviation for “police man” is ตร. (ตำรวจ /dtam-rùat/).

Member of Parliament: ส.ส.
สมาชิกสภาผู้แทนราษฎร /sà-maa-chík-sà-paa-pôo-taen-râat-sà-don/

Member: สมาชิก /sà-maa-chík/
Parliament: สภา /sà-pa/
Representative: ผู้แทน /pôo-taen/
Citizen: ราษฎร râat-sà-don/

Provincial Governor: ผวจ.
ผู้ว่าราชการจังหวัด /pôo-wâa-râat-chá-gaan jang-wàt/

Governor: ผู้ว่า /pôo-wâa/
Government service: ราชการ /râat-chá-gaan/
Province: จังหวัด /jang-wàt/

Note: ผว. (governor) is an abbreviation of the abbreviation ผวจ. (provincial governor).

Kilometer: กม.
กิโลเมตร /gì-loh-máyt/

Kilo, loan word: กิโล /gì-loh/
Meter, loan word: เมตร /máyt/

Some common single letter abbreviations can’t be broken down into parts but are fairly obvious once we know what Thai words they stand for:

Province: จ., sometimes จว.
จังหวัด /jang-wàt/

Alley, lane: ซ.
ซอย /soi/

Meter: ม.
เมตร /máyt/
Loan word from “meter”

Teacher: อ.
อาจารย์ /aa-jaan/

Mister: มร.
Transcription of the loan word “Mister”

O’clock: น.
นาฬิกา /naa-lí-gaa/

Using นาฬิกา /naa-lí-gaa/ (as in สิบสามนาฬิกา /sìp-sǎam naa-lí-gaa/, 13:00 hours, or 1pm) is the more formal way of telling time. This word can also mean “clock” or “watch”.

Hugh Leong
Retire 2 Thailand
Retire 2 Thailand: Blog
eBooks in Thailand

8 thoughts on “Thai Language Thai Culture: Thai Abbreviations Help Us Learn”

  1. Hugh – My Thai which is pretty basic at best must be deteriorating because it took me a few reads to understand Tod’s 555 witty insert. Very good.

    Surely abbreviations are a part of every language and just another spanner you have to get to grips with and put in your toolbox.

    Isn’t grung-tâyp-má-hǎa-ná-kon an abbreviation of Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit (Thai: กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุทธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

    Good old Sticky Wiki.

  2. There is a video on You Tube by Paiboon Publishing – Benjawan Becker; the one who puts out all the learn Thai books for foreigners (and who has that nifty 3 way Thai English dictionary app too).

    The video is called “Thai Abbreviations”, so if you type that in on You Tube, you’ll definitely find it.

    It’s a song which covers 35 abbreviations. Some are easy, some are not, but at least you get to hear how Thai people use them in speaking, (well singing really. .. )

    You might find it of interest.

    Sorry, I didn’t know if this site allows web-links so I told you how to find it instead.

  3. Tod,

    Thanks, I laughed so hard I almost wet my กกน.

    Just for those who don’t comprehend 555, in Thai that is ห้าห้าห้า /hâa hâa hâa/ and in English Ha ha ha! Who said learning Thai wan’t fun?

  4. Don’t forget the very valuable one; กกน. (although you won’t see it in the newspaper all that often, lol). It’s the abbreviation for กางเกงใน (underwear) 555+.

    Andrew Biggs in one of his books mentions Thai superstars who throw in English words while speaking Thai so they appear to be “in trend”. He calls them สตง. or สวยแต่โง่ (beautiful but stupid).

    Those newspaper abbreviations, the “slangy headlines”, the mile-long Thai names and the constant use of English words written in Thai all combine to just give me fits when tryin’ to read ’em.

    I am getting better at reading mostly from that one called M2F – (Monday to Friday), the free rag they hand out in Bangkok. It is written at slightly above “total idiot level” which appears to be right in line with my comprehension ability, lol.

  5. I can’t say that I am reading too many newspaper articles yet, although I can understand the headlines sometimes. I like how you break down the words into their simpler meanings, this has always helped me to remember longer vocabulary.


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