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Is there an official list of all the stock market abbreviations?

For example, Tesla and Amazon stocks are in "NMS", which (I think) stands for "National Market System", but sometimes you search for companies that yield multiple results in different markets so knowing what each means would be useful.

Some I have seen:

  • NMS -> I think National Market System
  • TOR -> Toronto stock Market
  • PNK -> ?
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    PNK is both a ticker symbol and, unrelatedlyu, it can mean trading on the Pink Sheets. Dec 31, 2021 at 23:24

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No there isn't. There is an official registry of ticker symbols but everything else has no fixed registry.

Words in the market come and go. So do abbreviations. My personal belief is that the abbreviations exist to tell who is on the inside and who is on the outside. I do not think that they exist to speed up communication, though they probably did when it started because people were writing things out longhand.

My guess, and this is a guess, a historian of the markets could do a better job of answering this or a linguist, is that abbreviations facilitated two things. First, it made communication by telegraph less expensive and second, it made writing less expensive.

You could write out ML or you could write out Merril Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, and Bean, Inc. At least, from memory, that was their name while they were still an independent entity long ago.

There was a writing convention that you can see in 17th and early 18th century books of writing Mrs. Smithers as Mrs. S or Mrs. S------- or, sometimes, as S. Ink was expensive and so was working with movable type.

So, speed when writing longhand and when being sent by telegraphy, as well as cost when printed or sent by telegraph, likely made abbreviations important.

I think it is now an element of the culture. I do not know if it still holds any value except to act as a gatekeeping tool. A linguistic way to know who is who and maybe their age. After all, who remembers TIGRs as being important? Only an older trader would see TIGR or someone mentions Tigers and know what they are.

And they mutate. For most of market history if you wrote FT, then you would mean the Financial Times of London, which is printed on an adorable pink paper. Now, it can also mean Fungible Token. One of them will survive and the other vanish. Although both may exist, one of them will take over the meaning and the other will be forgotten.

An interesting example is the ampersat. If you do not know what an ampersat is, it is because you are not old enough. This is an ampersat, @. You more likely know it from [email protected]. It was borrowed and repurposed. It is now the "at" sign, like # has become the hash tag. It was the commercial symbol for pounds of weight.

Symbols change. Their meanings change. Some are slow in changing. For example, the ampersand was a letter of the alphabet that is now almost only used in corporate names. It was the 27th letter of the alphabet, you have seen it. It is &. You likely do not use it when writing things out by hand. You see it in A.T.&T. because it was still a letter when American Telephone and Telegraph was young.

Also, sometimes existing symbols have to fight it out with replacement symbols. For example, $100M is the same as $100K, which is the same as $100,000. On the other hand, $100MM is $100,000,000. The computer symbol for 1024 bytes, k, is close enough to 1000 to be used as 1000.

There may be a book, but there is no official registry.

If someone does make such books, and 2700 books are newly published every day, then I would suggest looking for one from the 1920s to see which symbols have been reused.

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  • Wow, thanks for that super detailed answer, had a lot of useful information, had to take notes! Jan 7, 2022 at 15:11

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