What Is the Abbreviation for Professor?

When you want to abbreviate the word for “professor,” you can use: Prof. or prof.  The only difference between the two is the capitalization of the letter “P.” You would capitalize when it comes before a name and lowercase is only for those instances of note-taking or wanting to conserve space.

Remembering this will be a cinch! It’s simply the first four letters of the word “professor” with a period after the “F.” But, keep in mind you shouldn’t confuse prof. for pro, which is the abbreviation for “professional.”

Defining “Professor”

A professor is simply a person who teaches or instructs at a college or university level. They have a high level of skill in arts, sports, literature, history or some other subject in science or art. They usually have a Master’s Degree and may also have a doctorate.

“Professor” Etymology

It wasn’t until later in the 14th century that the word “professor” crept into the English language to mean someone who teaches a particular type of knowledge. The first known documented use of “professor” was in 1838.

It comes from an Old French word, “Professeur” and Latin “professor.” In this latter case, it means someone who professes expertise in science or art in addition to someone who is a high-ranking instructor.

“Professor” Synonyms

The following is a small list of synonyms, or other ways to say, the word “professor:”

  • Educator
  • Instructor
  • Lecturer
  • Teacher

Appropriate Abbreviation Usage

You will often see “Prof.” on things like business cards, door signage, resumes, class syllabi, and similar items. This usually comes before a name. The lowercase version, “prof.” is often for notes, web page blogs, social media posts, headlines, and other places where space conservation is a concern.

Examples in Action

To understand the difference between using the lowercase or capitalized “P,” consider the examples given below:

Prof. Ethan Kline, Humanities Dept.

17-year-old given injection by NY prof. [news headline]

Sponsored by several prof. emeritus throughout the country [website text]

Prof. Susan Alice Lee, MD

Biology test in prof. office on Monday afternoon [student note]


The basic abbreviation for professor is “Prof.” when it comes before someone’s name. Otherwise it can be “prof.” for jotting notes, news headlines, or other areas where you want to conserve space. it’s the first four letters of the word followed by a period.