"contraction," especially of the muscles, 1650s, from French contracture, from Latin contractura "a drawing together," from contract-, past-participle stem of contrahere "to draw several objects together; draw in, shorten, lessen, abridge," metaphorically "make a bargain, make an agreement" (see contract (n.)). Related: Contractural.
"cut off, cut down, pare away" (expenses, etc.), 1620s, from obsolete French retrencher "to cut off, lessen, shorten" (Modern French retrancher, Old French retrenchier), from re- "back" (see re-) + Old French trenchier "to cut" (see trench). Especially "reduce (expenses) by economy" (1709). Related: Retrenched; retrenching.
early 15c., abbreviacioun, "shortness; act of shortening; a shortened thing," from Old French abréviation (15c.) and directly from Late Latin abbreviationem (nominative abbreviatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of abbreviare "shorten, make brief," from Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + breviare "shorten," from brevis "short, low, little, shallow" (from PIE root *mregh-u- "short").
From 1580s specifically of words. Technically a part of a word, usually the initial letter or syllable, used for the whole word but with no indication of the rest of the word (as abbr. for abbreviation or abbreviate). A contraction is made by elision of certain letters or syllables from the body of a word but still indicates its full form (as fwd. for forward; rec'd. for received).
1630s, "a cutting off (mentally), abstraction, freedom from inessential elements," from French précision (16c.) and directly from Latin praecisionem (nominative praecisio) "a cutting off," in Medieval Latin "precision," noun of action from past-participle stem of praecidere "to cut off, shorten," from prae "before" (see pre-) + -cidere, combining form of caedere "to cut" (from PIE root *kae-id- "to strike"). Meaning "quality or state of being precise" is from 1740.