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Masonic Abbreviations

Abbreviations of technical terms or of official titles are of very extensive use in Freemasonry. They were, however, but rarely employed in the earlier Masonic publications. For instance, not one is to be found in the first edition of Anderson’s Constitutions. Within a comparatively recent period they have greatly increased, especially among French writers, and a familiarity with them is therefore essentially necessary to the Masonic student. Frequently, among English and always among French authors, a Masonic abbreviation is distinguished by three points, :. , in a triangular form following the letter, which peculiar mark was first used, according to Ragon, on the 12th of August, 1774, by the Grand Orient of France, in an address to its subordinates. No authoritative explanation of the meaning of these points has been given, but they may be supposed to refer to the three lights around the altar, or perhaps more generally to the number three, and to the triangle, both important symbols in the Masonic system. A representative list of abbreviations is given, and these will serve as a guide to the common practice, but the tendency to use such conveniences is limited only by personal taste governed by the familiarity of the Brethren using them with one another. This acquaintance may permit the mutual use of abbreviations little known elsewhere. All that can be done is to offer such examples as will be helpful in explaining the usual custom and to suggest the manner in which the abbreviations are employed. With this knowledge a Freemason can ascertain the meaning of other abbreviations he may find in his Masonic reading.

Also it may be observed that the doubling of a letter is intended to express the plural of that word of which the single letter is the abbreviation. Thus, in French, F:., signifies “Frére”, or “Brother,” and “FF :. “Fréres,” or “Brothers.” And in English, L :. is sometimes used to denote “Lodge”, and “LL :.” to denote “Lodges”. This remark is made once for all, because we have not deemed it necessary to augment the size of the list of abbreviations by inserting these plurals. If the reader finds S:.G:.I:. to signify Sovereign Grand Inspector, he will be at no loss to know that SS:.GG:.II:. must denote Sovereign Grand Inspectors.
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