Ever since the interest in organic environmental contaminants first emerged 50. years ago, there has been a need to present discussion of such chemicals and their transformation products using simple abbreviations so as to avoid the repetitive use of long chemical names. As the number of chemicals of concern has increased, the number of abbreviations has also increased dramatically, sometimes resulting in the use of different abbreviations for the same chemical. In this article, we propose abbreviations for flame retardants (FRs) substituted with bromine or chlorine atoms or including a functional group containing phosphorus, i.e. BFRs, CFRs and PFRs, respectively. Due to the large number of halogenated and organophosphorus FRs, it has become increasingly important to develop a strategy for abbreviating the chemical names of FRs. In this paper, a two step procedure is proposed for deriving practical abbreviations (PRABs) for the chemicals discussed. In the first step, structural abbreviations (STABs) are developed using specific STAB criteria based on the FR structure. However, since several of the derived STABs are complicated and long, we propose instead the use of PRABs. These are, commonly, an extract of the most essential part of the STAB, while also considering abbreviations previously used in the literature. We indicate how these can be used to develop an abbreviation that can be generally accepted by scientists and other professionals involved in FR related work. Tables with PRABs and STABs for BFRs, CFRs and PFRs are presented, including CAS (Chemical Abstract Service) numbers, notes of abbreviations that have been used previously, CA (Chemical Abstract) name, common names and trade names, as well as some fundamental physico-chemical constants. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.