What does the German abbreviation ca. mean? And what is the corresponding word for it?

I did not find it on abbreviations.com.

  • Well, it's there on this website. Just hard to find there among hundreds of abbreviations.
    – Em1
    Aug 4, 2017 at 9:07
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    Providing word to word translations (especially for words or abbreviations that are totally common) is not the purpose of this website. You could, however, rephrase your question and ask in what situations it would be appropriate to use ca. as opposed to circa, zirka, ungefähr and annäherungsweise. Aug 4, 2017 at 9:15
  • 2
    Pro tip: use an actual dictionary ;) (In this case, even an English dictionary would have sufficed, but you could not have known that in advance.)
    – Carsten S
    Aug 4, 2017 at 10:13

1 Answer 1


It is short for "circa" which means "approximately."

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    Note the German word is "zirka", even if the Latin original (which is an abbreviation of "circum ea" by itself) is very commonly used as well.
    – tofro
    Aug 4, 2017 at 8:25
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    @tofro while I have seen the germanized spelling, it seems to be much less common than either the abbreviation or the latinized one (ca. > circa >> zirka in prevalence).
    – Chieron
    Aug 4, 2017 at 13:41
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    @Chieron This Ngram shows "zirka" has ben superceded by "circa" ca. 1980 Before that time, "zirka" was leading (and both are vastly outnumbered by the abbreviation "ca."): books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – tofro
    Aug 4, 2017 at 13:44
  • @tofro In the Ngram, it's interesting to notice the sudden shift in spelling towards the germanized form around the turn of the century and WWI.
    – Beta
    Aug 5, 2017 at 6:30

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