A Cheat Sheet for Common Pharmacy Abbreviations

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Working as a pharmacy technician can be challenging, especially when dealing with the instructions that come with prescriptions. It can look like an alphabet soup with all of the abbreviations that are used to describe when a medication should be taken, how it should, and in what way.


Here is a list of some of the most commonly used abbreviations for the administration of medications. See how many you can identify on your own, and then use the list to improve your knowledge.


AAA – apply to the affected area

a.c. – take before meals. It comes from the Latin ante cibum

a.d. – right ear. From the Latin auris dextra

a.s. – left ear. From the Latin auris sinistra

a. u. – both ears. From the Latin auris utraque

ad lib – take as much as desired. This comes from the Latin ad libitum, which means “at one’s pleasure.”

amt – amount

aq – water. From the Latin aqua

bib. – drink. From the Latin bibe

b.i.d. – two times a day. From the Latin bis in die

BP – blood pressure

bucc. – inside the cheek. From the Latin bucca

d. – day. From the Latin dies

DAW – dispense as written

d.c. – discontinue

EOD – every other day

FXD – for ten days. The letter X is also the Roman numeral for 10.

gtt. – drop. From the Latin gutta

h. or hr. or hor. – hour. From the Latin hora

h.s. – at bedtime. From the Latin hora somni, meaning “at the hour of sleep”

inh. – inhalation

liq. – liquid

max. – maximum

min. – minimum

neb. – nebulizer

o.d. – right eye. From the Latin oculus dexter

o.s. – left eye. From the Latin oculus sinister

o.u. – both eyes. From the Latin oculus uterque

oint. – ointment

PA – prior authorization

p.c. – after meals. From the Latin post cibum

p.o. – by mouth, orally. From the Latin per os

p.r.n. – as needed. From the Latin pro re nata

q – every, per. From the Latin quaque

q12 or q.12h. or q.12° -- every 12 hours. Any number can be used in place of 12 for the desired time period.

q.a.d. or q.o.d. – every other day. From the Latin quaque alternis die

q.d. – every day. From the Latin quaque die

q.i.d. – four times a day. From the Latin quater in die

qty – quantity

stat. – immediately

t.i.d. – three times a day. From the Latin ter in die

w/f – with food


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