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What is an Acronym?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An  acronym  is a  word or name formed as an  abbreviation from the initial components in a phrase or a word, usually individual letters (as in  NATO or  laser) and sometimes syllables (as in Benelux).

There is no universal standardization of the  various names for such abbreviations and of their  orthographic styling. In English and most other languages, such abbreviations historically had limited use, but they became much more common in the 20th century. Acronyms are a type of  word formation process, and they are viewed as a subtype of  blending.

Nomenclature

Whereas an  abbreviation may be any type of shortened form, such as words with the middle omitted (for example,  Rd  for  road  or  Dr  for  Doctor), an acronym is a word formed from the first letter or first few letters of each word in a phrase (such as  sonar, created from  sound navigation and ranging ). Attestations for  Akronym  in German are known from 1921, and for  acronym  in English from 1940. [1]

Although the word  acronym  is often used to refer to any abbreviation formed from initial letters, [2] many dictionaries and usage commentators define  acronym  to mean an abbreviation that is pronounced as a word, [18] in contrast to an  initialism  (or  alphabetism )‍—‌an abbreviation formed from a string of  initials (and possibly pronounced as individual letters). [19] Some dictionaries include additional senses equating  acronym  with  initialism . [20][21][22]  The distinction, when made, hinges on whether the abbreviation is pronounced as a word or as a string of individual letters. Examples in  reference works that make the distinction include  NATO /ˈneɪtoʊ/ scuba /ˈskuːbə/, and  radar /ˈreɪdɑːr/ for acronyms - and  FBI /ˌɛfˌbiːˈaɪ/ CRT /ˌˈsiːˌɑːrˌtiː/, and  HTML/ˌeɪtʃˌtiːˌɛmˈɛl/ for initialisms. [3][15][23][24]  The rest of this article uses  acronym  for both types of abbreviation.

There is no rule on what to call abbreviations whose pronunciation involves the combination of letter names and words, such as  JPEG /ˈdʒeɪpɛɡ/ and  MS-DOS /ˌɛmɛsˈdɒs/. There is also some disagreement as to what to call abbreviations that some speakers pronounce as letters and others pronounce as a word. For example, the terms  URL and  IRA can be pronounced as individual letters:  /ˌjuːˌɑːrˈɛl/ and  /ˌaɪˌɑːrˈeɪ/, respectively; or as a single word:  /ˈɜːrl/ and  /ˈaɪərə/, respectively.

The spelled-out form of an acronym or initialism (that is, what it stands for) is called its expansion.

Comparing a few examples of each type

  • Pronounced as a word, containing only initial letters

    • NATO N orth  A tlantic  T reaty  O rganization

    • Scuba s elf- c ontained  u nderwater  b reathing  a pparatus

    • Laser l ight  a mplification by  s timulated  e mission of  r adiation

    • Taser T homas  A S wift's  e lectric  r ifle

    • GIF G raphics  I nterchange  F ormat

  • Pronounced as a word, containing non-initial letters

    • Amphetamine a lpha- m ethyl ph en et hyl amine

    • Gestapo Ge heime  Sta ats po lizei  ('secret state police')

    • Interpol Inter national Criminal  Pol ice Organization

    • Nabisco Na tional  Bis cuit  Co mpany

  • Pronounced as a string of letters, containing non-initial letters

    • PMN p oly m orpho n uclear leukocytes

    • OCA o culo c utaneous  a lbinism

    • PCM p ara c occidioido m ycosis

  • Pronounced as a word, containing a mixture of initial and non-initial letters

    • AIDS a cquired  i mmuno d eficiency  s yndrome

    • Necco N ew  E ngland  C onfectionery  Co mpany

    • Radar ra dio  d etection  a nd  r anging

  • Pronounced as a word or as a string of letters, depending on speaker or context

    • FAQ: ([fæk] or  ef-ay-cue ) frequently asked question

    • IRA : When used for  Individual Retirement Account, can be pronounced as letters ( i-ar-a ) or as a word [ˈaɪrə].

    • SAT(s): ([sæt] or  ess-ay-tee ) (previously)

      • Scholastic Achievement (or Aptitude) Test(s) (US)  (now claimed not to stand for anything [25])  or

      • Standard Assessment Test(s) (UK)

    • SQL: ([siːkwəl] or  ess-cue-el ) Structured Query Language.

  • Pronounced as a combination of spelling out and a word

    • CD-ROM: ( cee-dee- [rɒm]) Compact Disc read-only memory

    • IUPAC: ( i-u- [pæk]) International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

    • JPEG: ( jay- [pɛɡ]) Joint Photographic Experts Group

    • SFMOMA : ( ess-ef- [moʊmə]) San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

    • MS-DOS: ( emm-ess- [dɒs]) Microsoft Disk Operating System

  • Pronounced only as a string of letters

    • BBC : British Broadcasting Corporation

    • OEM: original equipment manufacturer

    • USA: United States of America

    • MEC : Mountain Equipment Co-Op  [26]

  • Pronounced as a string of letters, but with a shortcut

  • Shortcut incorporated into name

    • 3M: ( three M ) originally Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company

    • (ISC)²: ( ISC-squared ) International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium [27]

    • W3C: ( W three C ) World Wide Web Consortium

    • C4ISTAR: ( C four I star ) Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance [28]

  • Multi-layered acronyms

    • NAC Breda: (Dutch football club) NOAD ADVENDO Combinatie ("NOAD ADVENDO Combination"),
      formed by the 1912 merger of two clubs from Breda:

      • NOAD
        (Nooit Opgeven Altijd Doorgaan "Never give up, always persevere")

      • ADVENDO
        (
        Aangenaam Door Vermaak En Nuttig Door Ontspanning  "Pleasant by entertainment and useful by relaxation") [29][30]

    • GAIM (former name of Pidgin) GTK+ AOL Instant Messenger

    • GIMP: GNU Image Manipulation Program

    • VHDL VHSIC hardware description language , where VHSIC stands for  very-high-speed integrated circuit .

  • Recursive acronyms, in which the abbreviation refers to itself

    • GNU GNU's not Unix !

    • Wine Wine is not an emulator  (originally,  Windows emulator )

    • These may go through multiple layers before the self-reference is found:

      • HURD HIRD of Unix-replacing daemons , where "HIRD" stands for "HURD of interfaces representing depth"

  • Pseudo-acronyms, which consist of a sequence of characters that, when pronounced as intended, invoke other, longer words with less typing [31]

    • CQ cee-cue  for "seek you", a code used by radio operators

    • IOU i-o-u  for "I owe you" (the true acronym would be IOY)

    • K9 kay-nine  for "canine", used to designate police units utilizing dogs

    • Q8 cue-eight  for "Kuwait"

  • Abbreviations whose last abbreviated word is often  redundantly included anyway

    • ATM  machine:  automated teller machine  (machine)

    • E3  expo:  electronic entertainment expo  (expo)

    • HIV  virus:  human immunodeficiency virus  (virus)

    • LCD  display:  liquid crystal display  (display)

    • PIN  number:  personal identification number  (number)

    • CAC  card:  common access card  (card)

    • ABN  number:  Australian Business Number  (number)

Historical and current use

Acronymy, like  retronymy, is a linguistic process that has existed throughout history but for which there was little to no  naming, conscious attention, or  systematic analysis until relatively recent times. Like retronymy, it became much more common in the 20th century than it had formerly been.

Ancient examples of acronymy (regardless of whether there was  metalanguage at the time to describe it) include the following:

  • Acronyms were used in Rome before the Christian era. For example, the official name for the Roman Empire, and the Republic before it, was abbreviated as  SPQR ( Senatus Populusque Romanus ). Inscriptions dating from antiquity, both on stone and on coins, use a lot of abbreviations and acronyms to save room and work. For example,  Roman first names, of which there was only a small set, were almost always abbreviated. Common terms were abbreviated too, such as writing just "F" for  filius , meaning "son of", a very common part of memorial inscriptions mentioning people. Grammatical markers were abbreviated or left out entirely if they could be inferred from the rest of the text.

  • So-called  nomina sacra were used in many Greek biblical manuscripts. The common words "God" ( Θεός ), "Jesus" ( Ιησούς ), "Christ" ( Χριστός ), and some others, would be abbreviated by their first and last letters, marked with an overline. This was just one of many kinds of conventional scribal abbreviation, used to reduce the time-consuming workload of the scribe and save on valuable writing materials. The same convention is still commonly used in the inscriptions on religious  icons and the stamps used to mark the eucharistic bread in  eastern churches.

  • The early Christians in Rome, most of whom were Greek rather than Latin speakers, used the image of a fish as a symbol for  Jesus in part because of an acronym— fish  in Greek is ichthys ( ΙΧΘΥΣ ), which was said to stand for  Ἰησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ Υἱός Σωτήρ  ( Iesous CHristos THeou hUios Soter : "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior"). This interpretation dates from the 2nd and 3rd centuries and is preserved in the  catacombs of Rome. And for centuries, the Church has used the inscription  INRI over the crucifix, which stands for the Latin  Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum  ("Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews").

  • The Hebrew language has a long history of formation of acronyms pronounced as words, stretching back many centuries. The Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament") is known as " Tanakh", an acronym composed from the Hebrew initial letters of its three major sections:  Torah (five books of Moses),  Nevi'im (prophets), and  K'tuvim (writings). Many rabbinical figures from the Middle Ages onward are referred to in rabbinical literature by their pronounced acronyms, such as  Rambam and  Rashi from the initial letters of their full Hebrew names: Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon and Rabbi Shlomo Yitzkhaki.

During the mid- to late-19th century, an acronym-disseminating trend spread through the American and European business communities: abbreviating  corporation names in places where space was limited for writing—such as on the sides of  railroad cars (e.g., Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad → RF&P); on the sides of barrels and crates; and on  ticker tapeand in the small-print newspaper stock listings that got their data from it (e.g., American Telephone and Telegraph Company → AT&T). Some well-known commercial examples dating from the 1890s through 1920s include  Nabisco (National Biscuit Company), [32] Esso (from S.O., from  Standard Oil), and  Sunoco (Sun Oil Company).

Another driver for the adoption of acronyms was modern warfare with its many highly technical terms. While there is no recorded use of military acronyms in documents dating from the American Civil War (acronyms such as  ANV for "Army of Northern Virginia" post-date the war itself), they had become somewhat common in  World War I and were very much a part even of the vernacular language of the soldiers during  World War II, [33] who themselves were referred to as  G.I.s.

The widespread, frequent use of acronyms across the whole range of  registers is a relatively new linguistic phenomenon in most languages, becoming increasingly evident since the mid-20th century. As literacy rates rose, and as advances in science and technology brought with them a constant stream of new (and sometimes more complex) terms and concepts, the practice of abbreviating terms became increasingly convenient. The  Oxford English Dictionary ( OED ) records the first printed use of the word  initialism  as occurring in 1899, but it did not come into general use until 1965, well after  acronym  had become common.

By 1943, the term  acronym  had been used in English to recognize abbreviations (and contractions of phrases) that were pronounced as words. [32] (It was formed from the Greek words ἄκρος akros , "topmost, extreme" and  ὄνομα onoma , "name.") For example, the army offense of being  absent without official leave  was abbreviated to " A.W.O.L." in reports, but when pronounced as a word ( awol ), it became an acronym. [34] While initial letters are commonly used to form an acronym, the original definition was "a word made from the initial letters or syllables of other words", [35] for example  UNIVAC from UNIVersal Automatic Computer. [36]

In English, acronyms  pronounced as words  may be a 20th-century phenomenon. Linguist David Wilton in  Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends  claims that "forming words from acronyms is a distinctly twentieth- (and now twenty-first-) century phenomenon. There is only one known pre-twentieth-century [English] word with an acronymic origin and it was in vogue for only a short time in 1886. The word is  colinderies  or  colinda , an acronym for the  Colonial and Indian Exposition held in London in that year." [37][38]  However, although acronymic words seem not to have been  employed in general vocabulary  before the 20th century (as Wilton points out), the  concept of their formation  is treated as effortlessly understood (and evidently not novel) in a Poe story of the 1830s, " How to Write a Blackwood Article", which includes the contrived acronym P.R.E.T.T.Y.B.L.U.E.B.A.T.C.H.

Early examples in English

  • The use of Latin and Neo-Latin terms in  vernaculars has been pan-European and predates modern English. Some examples of acronyms in this class are:

    • A.M. (from Latin  ante meridiem , "before noon") and  P.M. (from Latin  post meridiem , "after noon")

    • A.D.  (from Latin  Anno Domini, "in the year of our Lord"), whose complement in English,  B.C.  [ Before Christ], is English-sourced

    • O.K., a term of disputed origin, dating back at least to the early 19th century, now used around the world

Current use

Acronyms are used most often to abbreviate names of organizations and long or frequently referenced terms. The  armed forces and government agencies frequently employ acronyms; some well-known examples from the United States are among the " alphabet agencies" (also jokingly referred to as " alphabet soup") created by  Franklin D. Roosevelt (also of course known as FDR) under the  New Deal. Business and industry also are prolific coiners of acronyms. The rapid advance of science and technology in recent centuries seems to be an underlying force driving the usage, as new inventions and concepts with multiword names create a demand for shorter, more manageable names.  One representative example, from the U.S. Navy, is COMCRUDESPAC, which stands for  commander, cruisers destroyers Pacific ; it's also seen as "ComCruDesPac". "YABA-compatible" (where YABA stands for "yet another bloody acronym") is used to mean that a term's acronym can be pronounced but is not an offensive word, e.g., "When choosing a new name, be sure it is 'YABA-compatible'." [39]

Acronym use has been further popularized by text messaging on mobile phones with Short Message Systems (SMS). To fit messages into the 160-character SMS limit, acronyms such as "GF" (girlfriend), "LOL" (laughing out loud), and "DL" (download or down low) have become popular. [40] Some  prescriptivists disdain texting acronyms and abbreviations as decreasing clarity, or as failure to use "pure" or "proper" English. Others point out that  language change has happened for thousands of years, and argue that it should be embraced as inevitable, or as innovation that adapts the language to changing circumstances. In this view, the modern practice is just as legitimate as those in "proper" English of the current generation of speakers, such as the abbreviation of corporation names in places with limited writing space (e.g., ticker tape, newspaper  column inches).

Aids to learning the expansion without leaving a document

In formal writing for a broad audience, the expansion is typically given at the first occurrence of the acronym within a given text, for the benefit of those readers who do not know what it stands for. The capitalization of the original term is independent of it being acronymized, being lowercase for a  common noun such as frequently asked questions (FAQ) but uppercase for a proper noun such as the United Nations (UN) (as explained at  Case > Casing of expansions).

In addition to expansion at first use, some publications also have a key listing all acronyms used therein and what their expansions are. This is a convenience to readers for two reasons. The first is that if they are not reading the entire publication sequentially (which is a common mode of reading), then they may encounter an acronym without having seen its expansion. Having a key at the start or end of the publication obviates skimming over the text searching for an earlier use to find the expansion. (This is especially important in the print medium, where no search utility is available.) The second reason for the key feature is its pedagogical value in educational works such as textbooks. It gives students a way to review the meanings of the acronyms introduced in a chapter after they have done the line-by-line reading, and also a way to quiz themselves on the meanings (by covering up the expansion column and recalling the expansions from memory, then checking their answers by uncovering.) In addition, this feature enables readers possessing knowledge of the abbreviations not to have to encounter expansions (redundant to such readers).

Expansion at first use and the abbreviation-key feature are aids to the reader that originated in the print era, and they are equally useful in print and online. In addition, the online medium offers yet more aids, such as  tooltips hyperlinks, and rapid search via  search engine technology.

Jargon

Acronyms often occur in  jargon. An acronym may have different meanings in different areas of industry, writing, and scholarship. The general reason for this is convenience and succinctness for specialists, although it has led some to obfuscate the meaning either intentionally, to deter those without such domain-specific knowledge, or unintentionally, by creating an acronym that already existed.

The medical literature has been struggling to control the proliferation of acronyms as their use has evolved from aiding communication to hindering it. This has become such a problem that it is even evaluated at the level of medical academies such as the American Academy of Dermatology.  [41]

As mnemonics

Acronyms are often taught as  mnemonic devices, for example in physics the colors of the visible spectrum are  ROY G. BIV (red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet). They are also used as mental checklists, for example in aviation:  GUMPS, which is Gas-Undercarriage-Mixture-Propeller-Seatbelts. Other examples of mnemonic acronyms include  CAN SLIM, and  PAVPANIC.

Acronyms as legendary etymology

See also:  Backronym

It is not uncommon for acronyms to be cited in a kind of  false etymology, called a  folk etymology , for a word. Such etymologies persist in popular culture but have no factual basis in  historical linguistics, and are examples of language-related  urban legends. For example,  cop is commonly cited as being derived, it is presumed, from "constable on patrol," [42] and  posh from " port out, starboard home". [43] With some of these specious expansions, the "belief" that the etymology is acronymic has clearly been  tongue-in-cheek among many citers, as with "gentlemen only, ladies forbidden" for  golf, although many other (more  credulous) people have uncritically taken it for fact. [43][44]  Taboo words in particular commonly have such false etymologies:  shitfrom "ship/store high in transit" [37][45]  or "special high-intensity training" and  fuck from "for unlawful carnal knowledge", or "fornication under consent/command of the king". [45]

Orthographic styling

Punctuation

Showing the ellipsis of letters

In English, abbreviations have traditionally been written with a  full stop/period/point in place of the deleted part to show the ellipsis of letters – although the  colon and  apostrophe have also had this role – and with a space after full stops (e.g. "A. D."). In the case of most acronyms, each letter is an abbreviation of a separate word and, in theory, should get its own termination mark. Such punctuation is diminishing with the belief that the presence of all-capital letters is sufficient to indicate that the word is an abbreviation. [46]

Ellipsis-is-understood style

Some influential  style guides, such as that of the  BBC, no longer require punctuation to show ellipsis; some even proscribe it. Larry Trask, American author of  The  Penguin Guide to Punctuation , states categorically that, in  British English, "this tiresome and unnecessary practice is now obsolete". [47]

Pronunciation-dependent style and periods

Nevertheless, some influential  style guides, many of them  American, still require periods in certain instances. For example,  The New York Times' guide recommends following each segment with a period when the letters are pronounced individually, as in  K.G.B., but not when pronounced as a word, as in  NATO. [48] The logic of this style is that the pronunciation is reflected graphically by the punctuation scheme.

Other conventions

When a multiple-letter abbreviation is formed from a single word, periods are in general not used, although they may be common in informal usage. TV, for example, may stand for a singleword (television or transvestite, for instance), and is in general spelled without punctuation (except in the plural). Although PS stands for the single word postscript (or the Latin postscriptum), it is often spelled with periods (P.S.).

The  slash ('/', or  solidus ) is sometimes used to separate the letters in a two-letter acronym, as in  N/A  ( not applicable, not available ),  c/o  ( care of ) and  w/o  ( without ).

Inconveniently long words used frequently in related contexts can be represented according to their letter count. For example,  i18n  abbreviates  internationalization, a computer-science term for adapting software for worldwide use. The  18  represents the 18 letters that come between the first and the last in  internationalization Localization  can be abbreviated  l10n , multilingualization m17n , and  accessibility a11y . In addition to the use of a specific number replacing that amount of letters, the more general "x" can be used to replace an unspecified number of letters. Examples include  Crxn  for  crystallization  and the series familiar to physicians for  history diagnosis, and  treatment ( hx dx tx ).

Representing plurals and possessives

There is a question about how to pluralize acronyms. Often a writer will add an 's' following an apostrophe, as in "PC's". However,  Kate Turabian, writing about style in academic writings, [49]allows for an apostrophe to form plural acronyms "only when an abbreviation contains internal periods or both capital and lowercase letters". Turabian would therefore prefer "DVDs" and "URLs" and "Ph.D.'s". The  Modern Language Association[50] and  American Psychological Association[51][52]  prohibit apostrophes from being used to pluralize acronyms regardless of periods (so "compact discs" would be "CDs" or "C.D.s"), whereas the  New York Times style guide requires an apostrophe is necessary when pluralizing all abbreviations regardless of periods (preferring "PC's, TV's and VCR's"). [53]

Possessive plurals that also include apostrophes for mere pluralization and periods appear especially complex: for example,  the C.D.'s' labels  (the labels of the compact discs). This is yet another reason to use apostrophes only for possessives and not for plurals. In some instances, however, an apostrophe may increase clarity: for example, if the final letter of an abbreviation is  S , as in  SOS's  (although abbreviations ending with S can also take  -es , e.g.  SOSes ), or when pluralizing an abbreviation that has periods. [54][55]

A particularly rich source of options arises when the plural of an acronym would normally be indicated in a word other than the final word if spelled out in full. A classic example is  Member of Parliament , which in plural is  Members of Parliament . It is possible then to abbreviate this as  M's P. [56][57]  (or similar [58]), as used by former Australian Prime Minister  Ben Chifley. [59][60][61] This usage is less common than forms with  s  at the end, such as  MPs , and may appear dated or pedantic. In common usage, therefore,  weapons of mass destruction  becomes  WMDs , prisoners of war  becomes  POWs , and  runs batted in  becomes  RBIs . [62]

The argument that acronyms should have no different plural form (for example, "If  D  can stand for  disc , it can also stand for  disc s ") is in general disregarded because of the practicality in distinguishing singulars and plurals. This is not the case, however, when the abbreviation is understood to describe a plural noun already: For example,  U.S.  is short for  United State s , but not  United State . In this case, the options for making a possessive form of an abbreviation that is already in its plural form without a final  s  may seem awkward: for example,  U.S. U.S.'s , etc. In such instances, possessive abbreviations are often foregone in favor of simple  attributive usage (for example,  the  U.S.  economy ) or expanding the abbreviation to its full form and  then making the possessive (for example,  the  United States'  economy ). On the other hand, in speech, the pronunciation  United States's  sometimes is used.

Abbreviations that come from single, rather than multiple, words—such as TV (television)—are usually pluralized without apostrophes (two TVs); most writers feel that the apostrophe should be reserved for the possessive (the TV's antenna).

In some languages, the convention of doubling the letters in the acronym is used to indicate plural words: for example, the Spanish EE. UU., for Estados Unidos ('United States'). This old convention is still followed for a limited number of English abbreviations, such as SS. for "Saints", pp. for the Latin plural of "pages", paginae, or MSS for "manuscripts".

Further information:  English possessive

Case

All-caps style

The most common  capitalization scheme seen with acronyms is all-uppercase ( all-caps), except for those few that have linguistically taken on an identity as regular words, with the acronymous etymology of the words fading into the background of common knowledge, such as has occurred with the words  scuba laser, and  radarthese are known as  anacronyms . [63]

Small-caps variant

Small caps are sometimes used to make the run of capital letters seem less jarring to the reader. For example, the style of some American publications, including the  Atlantic Monthly and USA Today, is to use small caps for acronyms longer than three letters ; thus "U.S." and " FDR" in normal caps, but "nato" in small caps. The acronyms " AD" and " BC" are often smallcapped as well, as in: "From 4004 bc  to ad  525".

Mixed-case variant

Words derived from an acronym by affixing are typically expressed in mixed case, so the root acronym is clear. For example,  pre-WWII politics post-NATO world DNAase. In some cases a derived acronym may also be expressed in mixed case. For example,  messenger RNA and  transfer RNA become mRNA and tRNA.

Pronunciation-dependent style and case

Some publications choose to capitalize only the first letter of acronyms, reserving all-caps styling for initialisms. Thus the pronounced acronyms "Nato" and "Aids" are mixed-case, but the initialisms "USA" and "FBI" are capital-only. For example, this is the style used in  The Guardian, [64] and  BBC News typically edits to this style (though its official style guide, dating from 2003, still recommends all-caps [65]). The logic of this style is that the pronunciation is reflected graphically by the capitalization scheme.

Some style manuals also base the letters'  case on their number.  The New York Times , for example, keeps  NATO  in all capitals (while several guides in the British press may render it  Nato ), but uses lower case in  UNICEF (from "United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund") because it is more than four letters, and to style it in caps might look ungainly (flirting with the appearance of "shouting capitals").

Numerals and constituent words

While abbreviations typically exclude the initials of short  function words (such as "and", "or", "of", or "to"), this is not always the case. (A similar set of words is sometimes left as lowercase in headers and publication titles.) Sometimes function words are included to make a pronounceable acronym, such as CORE ( Congress of Racial Equality). Sometimes the letters representing these words are written in lower case, such as in the cases of TfL ( Transport for London) and  LotR  ( Lord of the Rings); this usually occurs when the acronym represents a multi-word proper noun.

Numbers (both  cardinal and  ordinal) in names are often represented by  digits rather than initial letters: as in  4GL  ( Fourth generation language) or  G77  ( Group of 77). Large numbers may use  metric prefixes, as with  Y2K for "Year 2000" (sometimes written  Y2k , because the SI symbol for 1000 is  k not  K , which stands for  kelvin). Exceptions using initials for numbers include TLA (three-letter acronym/abbreviation) and  GoF  ( Gang of Four). Abbreviations using numbers for other purposes include repetitions, such as  W3C ("World Wide Web Consortium") and  T3( Trends, Tips & Tools for Everyday Living ); pronunciation, such as  B2B ("business to business"); and  numeronyms, such as  i18n  ("internationalization";  18  represents the 18 letters between the initial  i  and the final  n ).

Casing of expansions

Although many authors of  expository writing show a predisposition to capitalizing the initials of the expansion for pedagogical emphasis (trying to thrust the reader's attention toward where the letters are coming from), this sometimes conflicts with the convention of  English orthography, which reserves capitals in the middle of sentences for  proper nouns. Enforcing the general convention, most professional editors  case-fold such expansions to their standard orthography when editing manuscripts for publication. The justification is that (1) readers are smart enough to figure out where the letters came from, even without their being capitalized for emphasis, and that (2) common nouns do not take capital initials in standard English orthography. Such house styles also usually disfavor bold or italic font for the initial letters.  For example, "the onset of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)" or "the onset of c ongestive  h eart  f ailure (CHF)" if found in an unpublished manuscript would be rewritten as "the onset of congestive heart failure (CHF)" in the final published article when following the  AMA Manual of Style. [66]

Changes to (or word play on) the expanded meaning

Pseudo-acronyms

Some apparent acronyms or other abbreviations do not stand for anything and cannot be expanded to some meaning. Such  pseudo-acronyms  frequently develop as " orphan initialisms "; an existing acronym is redefined as a non-acronymous name, severing its link to its previous meaning. [67][68]  For example, the letters of the  SAT, a US college entrance test originally dubbed "Scholastic Aptitude Test", no longer officially stand for anything. [69][70]

This is common with companies that want to retain  brand recognition while moving away from an outdated image: American Telephone and Telegraph became  AT&T, [67] Kentucky Fried Chicken became  KFC to de-emphasize the role of frying in the preparation of its signature dishes, [71] and  British Petroleum became BP. [68][72]  Russia Today has rebranded itself as  RT.

Pseudo-acronyms may have advantages in international markets: for example, some national  affiliates of  International Business Machines are legally incorporated as "IBM" (for example, "IBM Canada") to avoid translating the full name into local languages. Likewise, " UBS" is the name of the merged  Union Bank of Switzerland and  Swiss Bank Corporation, [73] and " HSBC" has replaced "The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation."

The UK defence contractor  BAE Systems was formed when  British Aerospace (BAe) merged with  Marconi Electronic Systems (MES). According to the company's branding policy, the BAE part of the name is said to "not stand for anything" and the company insist that "we are always BAE Systems, never BAE or BAES".

Redundant acronyms and RAS syndrome

Main article:  RAS syndrome

Rebranding can lead to  redundant acronym syndrome, as when  Trustee Savings Bank became TSB Bank, or when  Railway Express Agency became REA Express. A few  high-techcompanies have taken the redundant acronym to the extreme: for example, ISM Information Systems Management Corp. and SHL Systemhouse Ltd. An example in entertainment is the television shows  CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and  Navy: NCIS (Navy was dropped in the second season), where the redundancy was likely designed to educate new viewers as to what the initials stood for. The same reasoning was in evidence when the  Royal Bank of Canada's Canadian operations rebranded to RBC Royal Bank, or when  Bank of Montreal rebranded their retail banking subsidiary BMO Bank of Montreal.

Another common example is " RAM memory", which is redundant because "RAM" ("random-access memory") includes the initial of the word "memory". "PIN" stands for "personal identification number", obviating the second word in "PIN number"; in this case its retention may be motivated to avoid ambiguity with the homophonous word "pin". Other examples include " ATM machine" ("automated teller machine machine"), " EAB bank" ("European American Bank bank"), " CableACE Award" ("cable award for cable excellence award"), " DC Comics" ("Detective Comics Comics"), " HIV virus" ("human immunodeficiency virus virus"), Microsoft's NT Technology ("New Technology Technology") and the formerly redundant " SAT test" ("Scholastic Achievement/Aptitude/Assessment Test test", now simply "SAT Reasoning Test").  TNN (The Nashville/National Network) also renamed itself "The New TNN" for a brief interlude.

Simple redefining

Sometimes, the initials continue to stand for an expanded meaning, but the original meaning is simply replaced. Some examples:

  • DVD was originally an acronym of the unofficial term  digital video disk , but is now stated by the  DVD Forum as standing for  Digital Versatile Disc .

  • GAO changed the full form of its name from  General Accounting Office  to  Government Accountability Office .

  • GPO  changed the full form of its name from  Government Printing Office  to  Government Publishing Office .

  • RAID used to mean  Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks , but is now commonly interpreted as  Redundant Array of Independent Disks .

  • WWF originally stood for  World Wildlife Fund , but now stands for  Worldwide Fund for Nature (although the former name is still used in Canada and the United States).

  • The  UICC, whose initials came from the  Romance-language versions of its name (such as French  Union Internationale Contre le Cancer , "International Union Against Cancer"), changed the English expansion of its name to Union for International Cancer Control (from International Union Against Cancer) so that the English expansion, too, would correspond to the UICC initials.

Backronyms

Main article:  Backronym

backronym  (or  bacronym ) is a  phrase that is constructed "after the fact" from a previously existing word. For example, the novelist and critic  Anthony Burgess once proposed that the word "book" ought to stand for " B ox  O O rganized  K nowledge." [74] A classic real-world example of this is the name of the predecessor to the Apple Macintosh, The  Apple Lisa, which was said to refer to "Local Integrated Software Architecture", but was actually named after Steve Jobs' daughter, born in 1978.

Contrived acronyms

Acronyms are sometimes  contrived, that is, deliberately designed to be especially apt for the thing being named (by having a dual meaning or by borrowing the positive connotations of an existing word). Some examples of contrived acronyms are  USA PATRIOT CAN SPAM CAPTCHA and  ACT UP. The clothing company  French Connection began referring to itself as  fcuk , standing for "French Connection United Kingdom." The company then created T-shirts and several advertising campaigns that exploit the acronym's similarity to the taboo word " fuck."

The US Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ( DARPA) is known for developing contrived acronyms to name projects, including  RESURRECT NIRVANA , and  DUDE . In July 2010,  Wired Magazine reported that DARPA announced programs to "..transform biology from a descriptive to a predictive field of science" named  BATMAN  and  ROBIN for  Biochronicity and Temporal Mechanisms Arising in Nature  and  Robustness of Biologically-Inspired Networks , [75] a reference to the  Batman and  Robin comic-book superheroes.

Some acronyms are chosen deliberately to avoid a name considered undesirable: For example,  Verliebt in Berlin (ViB), a German  telenovela, was first intended to be  Alles nur aus Liebe (All for Love) , but was changed to avoid the resultant acronym  ANAL . Likewise, the Computer Literacy and Internet Technology qualification is known as  CLaIT , [76] rather than  CLIT. In Canada, the  Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance (Party) was quickly renamed to the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance when its opponents pointed out that its initials spelled CCRAP (pronounced "see  crap"). (The satirical magazine  Frank had proposed alternatives to CCRAP, namely SSHIT and  NSDAP.) Two Irish Institutes of Technology (Galway and Tralee) chose different acronyms from other institutes when they were upgraded from Regional Technical colleges. Tralee RTC became the Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT), as opposed to Tralee Institute of Technology ( TIT). Galway RTC became Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), as opposed to Galway Institute of Technology ( GIT). The charity sports organization  Team in Training is known as "TNT" and not "TIT".  Technological Institute of Textile & Sciences is still known as TITS.  George Mason University was planning to name their law school the Antonin Scalia School of Law (ASSOL) in honor of the late  Antonin Scalia, only to change it to the Antonin Scalia Law School later. [77]

Macronyms/nested acronyms

macronym , or  nested acronym , is an acronym in which one or more letters stand for acronyms themselves. The word "macronym" is a  portmanteau of " macro-" and "acronym".

Some examples of macronyms are:

  • XHR stands for "XML HTTP Request", in which  XML is "eXtensible Markup Language", and  HTTP stands for "HyperText Transfer Protocol".

  • POWER  stands for  Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC , in which  RISC stands for  Reduced Instruction Set Computing .

  • VHDL stands for "VHSIC Hardware Description Language", in which  VHSIC stands for "Very High Speed Integrated Circuit".

  • XSD stands for "XML Schema Definition", in which  XML stands for "eXtensible Markup Language".

  • SECS  stands for "SEMI equipment communication standard", in which  SEMI stands for "Semiconductor equipment manufacturing industries".

  • AIM stands for "AOL Instant Messenger", in which  AOL stands for " America Online".

  • HASP  stood for Houston Automatic Spooling Priority, but  spooling itself was an acronym – simultaneous peripheral operations on-line

Some macronyms can be multiply nested: the second-order acronym points to another one further down a hierarchy. In an informal competition run by the magazine  New Scientist, a fully documented specimen was discovered that may be the most deeply nested of all: RARS is the "Regional ATOVS Retransmission Service", ATOVS is "Advanced  TOVS", TOVS is " TIROSoperational vertical sounder" and TIROS is "Television infrared observational satellite". [78] Fully expanded, "RARS" thus becomes: "Regional Advanced Television Infrared Observational Satellite Operational Vertical Sounder Retransmission Service".

Recursive acronyms

Main article:  Recursive acronym

A special type of macronym, the  recursive acronym, has letters whose expansion refers back to the macronym itself. One of the earliest examples appears in  The Hacker's Dictionary as MUNG, which stands for "MUNG Until No Good".

Some examples of recursive acronyms are:

  • GNU stands for "GNU's Not Unix"

  • LAME stands for "LAME Ain't an MP3 Encoder"

  • PHP stands for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor"

  • WINE stands for "WINE Is Not an Emulator"

  • HURD stands for "HIRD of Unix-replacing daemons", where HIRD itself stands for "HURD of interfaces representing depth" (a "mutually recursive" acronym)

Non-English languages

Specific languages

Chinese

In English language discussions of languages with  syllabic or  logographic writing systems (such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean), "acronyms" describe the short forms that take selected characters from a multi-character word.

For example, in Chinese, "university" ( 大學 / 大学 , literally "great learning") is usually abbreviated simply as    ("great") when used with the name of the institute. So  Peking University ( 北京大学 ) is commonly shortened to  北大   (lit. "north-great") by also only taking the first character of  Peking , the "northern capital" ( 北京 Beijing ). In some cases, however, other characters than the first can be selected. For example, the local short form of  Hong Kong University ( 香港大學 ) uses  Kong  ( 港大 ) rather than  Hong .

There are also cases where some longer phrases are abbreviated drastically, especially in Chinese politics, where proper nouns were initially translated from Soviet Leninist terms. For instance, the full name of China's highest ruling council, the  Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), is "Standing Committee of the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China" ( 中国共产党中央政治局常务委员会 ). The term then reduced the "Communist Party of China" part of its name through acronyms, then the "Standing Committee" part, again through acronyms, to create " 中共中央政治局常委 ". Alternatively, it omitted the "Communist Party" part altogether, creating "Politburo Standing Committee" ( 政治局常委会 ), and eventually just "Standing Committee" ( 常委会 ). The PSC's members full designations are "Member of the Standing Committee of the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China" ( 中国共产党中央政治局常务委员会委员 ); this was eventually drastically reduced to simply  Changwei  ( 常委 ), with the term  Ruchang  ( 入常 ) used increasingly for officials destined for a future seat on the PSC. In another example, the word " 全国人民代表大会 " ( National People's Congress) can be broken into four parts: " 全国 " = "the whole nation", " 人民 " = "people", " 代表 " = "representatives", " 大会 " = "conference". Yet, in its short form " 人大 " (literally "man/people big"), only the first characters from the second and the fourth parts are selected; the first part (" 全国 ") and the third part (" 代表 ") are simply ignored. In describing such abbreviations, the term  initialism  is inapplicable. [ original research?]

Many proper nouns become shorter and shorter over time. For example, the  CCTV New Year's Gala, whose full name is literally read as "China Central Television Spring Festival Joint Celebration Evening Gala" ( 中国中央电视台春节联欢晚会 ) was first shortened to "Spring Festival Joint Celebration Evening Gala" ( 春节联欢晚会 ), but eventually referred to as simply Chunwan  ( 春晚 ). Along the same vein,  Zhongguo Zhongyang Dianshi Tai  ( 中国中央电视台 ) was reduced to  Yangshi  ( 央视 ) in the mid-2000s.

Korean

Many aspects of academics in Korea follow similar acronym patterns as Chinese, owing to the languages' commonalities, like using the word for "big" or "great" i.e. dae ( ), to refer to universities (대학 daehak, literally "great learning" although "big school" is an acceptable alternate). They can be interpreted similar to American university appellations, such as "UPenn" or "Texas Tech."

Some acronyms are shortened forms of the school's name, like how  Hongik University ( 홍익대학교 Hongik Daehakgyo ) is shortened to  Hongdae  ( 홍대 , "Hong, the big [school]" or "Hong-U") Other acronyms can refer to the university's main subject, e.g.  Korea National University of Education ( 한국교원대학교 Hanguk Gyowon Daehakgyo ) is shortened to  Gyowondae  ( 교원대 , "Big Ed." or "Ed.-U"). Other schools use a Koreanized version of their English acronym. The  Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology ( 한국과학기술원 Hanguk Gwahak Gisulwon ) is referred to as KAIST ( 카이스트 Kaiseuteu ) in both English and Korean. The 3 most prestigious schools in Korea are known as SKY ( 스카이 seukai ), combining the first letter of their English names ( S eoul National,  K orea, and  Y onsei Universities). In addition, the College Scholastic Ability Test ( 대학수학능력시험 Daehak Suhang Neungryeok Siheom ) is shortened to Suneung  ( 수능 , "S.A.").

Japanese

Main article:  Japanese abbreviated and contracted words

The  Japanese language makes extensive use of acronyms. This is most prevalent in  katakana transcriptions of foreign words; for example, the  Pokémon media franchise's name originally stood for "pocket monsters" ( ポケ ット · モン スター  → ポケモン ), which is still the long-form of the name in Japanese, and " wāpuro" stands for " word processor" ( ワー · プロ セッサー  → ワープロ ). However, the practice is also common with native  kanji and  hiragana words.

German

To a greater degree than English does, German tends toward acronyms that use initial syllables rather than initial single letters, although it uses many of the latter type as well. Some examples of the syllabic type are  Gestapo rather than  GSP  (for  Geheime Staatspolizei , 'secret state police');  Flak  rather than  FAK  (for  Fliegerabwehrkanone anti-aircraft gun);  Kripo  rather than  KP  (for  Kriminalpolizei, detective division police). The extension of such contraction to a pervasive or whimsical degree has been mockingly labeled  Aküfi (for  Abkürzungsfimmel , strange habit of abbreviating). Examples of  Aküfi  include  Vokuhila  (for  vorne kurz, hinten lang , short in the front, long in the back, i.e., a  mullet) and the mocking of  Adolf Hitler's title as  Gröfaz( Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten , Greatest General of all Times).

Hebrew

Main article:  Hebrew acronyms

It is common to take more than just one initial letter from each of the words composing the acronym; regardless of this, the abbreviation sign  gershayim is always written between the second-last and last letters of the non-inflected form of the acronym, even if by this it separates letters of the same original word. Examples (keep in mind Hebrew reads right-to-left):  ארה״ב (for  ארצות הברית , the United States);  ברה״מ   (for  ברית המועצות , the Soviet Union);  ראשל״צ   (for  ראשון לציון Rishon LeZion);  ביה״ס   (for  בית הספר , the school). An example that takes only the initial letters from its component words is  צה״ל   ( Tzahal , for  צבא הגנה לישראל Israel Defense Forces). In inflected forms the abbreviation sign  gershayim remains between the second-last and last letters of the non-inflected form of the acronym (e.g. "report", singular:  דו״ח , plural:  דו״חות ; "squad commander", masculine:  מ״כ , feminine:  מ״כית ).

Indonesian

See also:  List of Indonesian acronyms and abbreviations

There is also a widespread use of acronyms in  Indonesia in every aspect of social life. For example, the  Golkar political party stands for Partai  Gol ongan  Kar ya,  Monas stands for " Mo numen Nas ional" (National Monument), the  Angkot  public transport stands for " Ang kutan  Kot a" (city  public transportation),  warnet  stands for " war ung inter net " ( internet cafe), and many others. Some acronyms are considered formal (or officially adopted), while many more are considered informal,  slang or  colloquial.

The capital's metropolitan area ( Jakarta and its surrounding  satellite regions),  Jabodetabek, is another infamous acronym. This stands for  Ja karta- Bo gor- De pok- Ta ngerang- Bek asi. Many highways are also named by the acronym method; e.g.  Jalan Tol  (Toll Road)  Jagorawi  ( Ja karta-Bo gor -Ci awi ) and  Purbaleunyi  ( Pur wakarta- Ba ndung-Ci leunyi ), Joglo Semar ( Jog ja-so lo - semar ang).

In some languages, especially those that use certain  alphabets, many acronyms come from the governmental use, particularly in the military and law enforcement services. The  Indonesian military (TNI— Tentara Nasional Indonesia ) and  Indonesian police (POLRI— Kepolisian Republik Indonesia ) are infamous for heavy acronyms use. Examples include the  Kopassus ( Ko mando Pas ukan Khu sus Special Forces Command),  Kopaska ( Ko mando  Pas ukan  Ka tak;  Frogmen Command),  Kodim  ( Ko mando  Di strik  M iliter; Military District Command—one of the Indonesian army's  administrative divisions),  Serka  ( Ser san  K ep a la; Head  Sergeant),  Akmil  ( Ak ademi  Mil iter; Military Academy—in  Magelang) and many other terms regarding  ranks, units, divisions, procedures, etc.

Heavy acronym use by Indonesians, makes it difficult for foreigners and learners of  Bahasa Indonesia to seek information and news in Indonesian  media.

Russian

Acronyms that use parts of words (not necessarily syllables) are commonplace in Russian as well, e.g.  Газпром  ( Gazprom), for  Газовая промышленность  ( Gazovaya promyshlennost , gas industry). There are also initialisms, such as СМИ ( SMI , for  средства массовой информации  sredstva massovoy informatsii , means of mass informing, i.e.  mass media). Another Russian acronym,  ГУЛаг  ( GULag) combines two initials and three letters of the final word: it stands for  Главное управление лагерей  ( Glavnoe upravlenie lagerey , Chief Administration of Camps).

Historically,  OTMA was an acronym sometimes used by the daughters of  Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and his consort,  Alexandra Feodorovna, as a group nickname for themselves, built from the first letter of each girl's name in the order of their births : Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia.

Swahili

In  Swahili, acronyms are common for naming organizations such as TUKI, which stands for  Taasisi ya Uchunguzi wa Kiswahili  (the Institute for Swahili Research). Multiple initial letters (often the initial syllable of words) are often drawn together, as seen more in some languages than others.

General grammatical considerations

Declension

In languages where nouns are  declined, various methods are used. An example is  Finnish, where a colon is used to separate inflection from the letters:

  • An acronym is pronounced as a word: Nato  [nato]Natoon  [natoːn] "into Nato"

  • An acronym is pronounced as letters: EU [eː uː]—EU:hun [eː uːhun] "into EU"

  • An acronym is interpreted as words: EU [euroːpan unioni]—EU:iin [euroːpan unioniːn] "into EU"

The process above is similar to how, in English, hyphens are used for clarity when prefixes are added to acronyms, thus pre-NATO policy (rather than preNATO).

Lenition

In languages such as  Scottish Gaelic and Irish, where  lenition (initial consonant mutation) is commonplace, acronyms must also be modified in situations where case and context dictate it. In the case of Scottish Gaelic, a lower case "h" is added after the initial consonant; for example,  BBC Scotland in the genitive case would be written as  BhBC Alba , with the acronym pronounced "VBC". Likewise, the Gaelic acronym for "television" ( gd: telebhisean ) is  TBh , pronounced "TV", as in English.

Extremes

  • The longest acronym, according to the 1965 edition of  Acronyms, Initialisms and Abbreviations Dictionary , is ADCOMSUBORDCOMPHIBSPAC, a  United States Navy term that stands for "Administrative Command, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet Subordinate Command." Another term COMNAVSEACOMBATSYSENGSTA, which stands for "Commander, Naval Sea Systems Combat Engineering Station" is longer but the word "Combat" is not shortened.

  • The world's longest acronym, according to the  Guinness Book of World Records is  NIIOMTPLABOPARMBETZHELBETRABSBOMONIMONKONOTDTEKHSTROMONT ( Нииомтплабопармбетжелбетрабсбомонимонконотдтехстромонт ). The 56-letter acronym (54 in  Cyrillic) is from the  Concise Dictionary of Soviet Terminology  and means "The laboratory for shuttering, reinforcement, concrete and ferroconcrete operations for composite-monolithic and monolithic constructions of the Department of the Technology of Building-assembly operations of the Scientific Research Institute of the Organization for building mechanization and technical aid of the Academy of Building and Architecture of the  Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." ( н аучно- и сследовательская  [...]  лаб оратория  оп ераций по  арм ированию  бет она и  жел езо бет онных  раб от по сооружению  сбо рно- мон олитных  имон олитных  кон струкций  отд ела  тех нологии  стро ительно- монт ажного управления )

  • The card-game  Magic: The Gathering has a playing card called "Our Market Research Shows That Players Like Really Long Card Names So We Made this Card to Have the Absolute Longest Card Name Ever Elemental", with text on it saying: "Just call it OMRSTPLRLCNSWMTCTHTALCNEE for short." [79]

See also

References

  1.  Paris Gazette, by Lion Feuchtwanger; translated (from Exil) by Willa and Edwin Muir, New York, Viking Press, 1940. Chapter 47, Beasts of Prey, pp. 665–66:

    His first glance at the _Paris German News_ told Wiesener that this new paper was nothing like the old _P.G._. "They can call it the _P.G.N._ if they like", he thought, "but that's the only difference. Pee-gee-enn; what's the word for words like that, made out of initials? My memory is beginning to fail me. Just the other day there was a technical expression I couldn't remember. I must be growing old. "_P.G._ or _P.G.N._, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other.... Pee-gee-enn. It's an acronym, that's what it is. That's what they call words made up of initials. So I remember it after all; that's at least something.

    For "Akronym" used in 1921 or 1922, giving an example of "Agfa" film: Brockhaus Handbuch des Wissens in vier Bänden. Leipzig, F. A. Brockhaus, [1922–23, c1921-23] v. 1, p. 37.

  2.  Merriam-Webster, Inc.  Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage , 1994.  ISBN 0-87779-132-5. pp. 21–22:

    acronyms   A number of commentators (as Copperud 1970, Janis 1984, Howard 1984) believe that acronyms can be differentiated from other abbreviations in being pronounceable as words. Dictionaries, however, do not make this distinction because writers in general do not:
    "The powder metallurgy industry has officially adopted the acronym 'P/M Parts'"— Precision Metal Molding , January 1966.
    "Users of the term 
    acronym  make no distinction between those pronounced as words ... and those pronounced as a series of characters" —Jean Praninskas, Trade Name Creation , 1968.
    "It is not J.C.B.'s fault that its name, let alone its acronym, is not a household word among European scholars"—
    Times Literary Supp.  5 February 1970.
    "... the confusion in the Pentagon about abbreviations and acronyms—words formed from the first letters of other words"—Bernard Weinraub, 
    N.Y. Times , 11 December 1978.
    Pyles & Algeo 1970 divide acronyms into "initialisms", which consists of initial letters pronounced with the letter names, and "word acronyms", which are pronounced as words. Initialism , an older word than  acronym , seems to be too little known to the general public to serve as the customary term standing in contrast with  acronym  in a narrow sense.
  3. a b "acronym".  The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English  (1991), Oxford University Press. p. 12: "a word, usu[ally] pronounced as such, formed from the initial letters of other words (e.g.  Ernie laser Nato )".

  4.  "acronym"  "Cambridge Dictionary of American English", accessed Oct 5, 2008: "a word created from the first letters of each word in a series of words."

  5.  "acronym"  "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language", accessed Aug 13, 2015: "1. A word formed by combining the initial letters of a multipart name, such as NATO from North Atlantic Treaty Organization or by combining the initial letters or parts of a series of words, such as radar from radio detecting and ranging. 2.  Usage Problem An initialism.  Usage Note:  In strict usage, the term acronym refers to a word made from the initial letters or parts of other words, such as sonar from so(und) na(vigation and) r(anging). The distinguishing feature of an acronym is that it is pronounced as if it were a single word, in the manner of NATO and NASA. Acronyms are often distinguished from initialisms like FBI and NIH, whose individual letters are pronounced as separate syllables. While observing this distinction has some virtue in precision, it may be lost on many people, for whom the term acronym refers to both kinds of abbreviations."

  6.  "acronym"  "Collins Dictionaries", accessed Aug 13, 2015: "a pronounceable name made up of a series of initial letters or parts of words; for example, UNESCO for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization"

  7.  "acronym"  "Cambridge Dictionaries Online", accessed Aug 13, 2015: "an abbreviation consisting of the first letters of each word in the name of something, pronounced as a word: AIDS is an acronym for 'Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome'."

  8.  "acronym"  "Cambridge Dictionaries Online", accessed Aug 13, 2015: "Acronyms are words which are formed from the first letters of other words, and which are pronounced as full words."

  9.  "acronym"  "Wordsmyth, the Priemier Educational Dictionary-Thesaurus", accessed Aug 13, 2015: "a type of abbreviation used as a word, formed by combining the initial letters (or initial parts) of words that make up a particular string. The pronunciation of an acronym is based on the typical rules of pronouncing words in a language and is not made up of the sounds of the names of individual letters. NASA is an acronym for 'National Aeronautics and Space Administration.' The abbreviations 'FBI' and 'DVD' are not acronyms, but 'AIDS,' 'FICA,' and 'PIN' are."

  10.  "acronym"  "NetLingo, the Internet Dictionary", accessed Aug 13, 2015: "Derived from the first letters of a phrase, acronyms are meant to make the phrase easier to say and remember. With an acronym, the first letter of each word makes up a new word that is, in fact, pronounceable (for example, SNAFU is pronounced "sna-foo" and WOMBAT is pronounced "wahm-bat")."

  11.  "acronym".  Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing  (2012).  Stedman. "A pronounceable word formed from the initial letters of each word or selected words in a phrase (e.g., AIDS)".

  12.  "acronym"  "Rane Pro Audio Reference", accessed Aug 13, 2015: "A word formed from the first letters of a name, such as laser for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, or by combining initial letters or parts of a series of words, such as radar for radio detecting and ranging. The requirement of forming a word is what distinguishes an acronym from an abbreviation (or initialism as it is also called). Thus modem [modulator-demodulator] is an acronym, and AES [Audio Engineering Society] is an abbreviation or initialism."

  13.  "The Correct Use of Acronyms and Initialisms"  "Scribendi Proofreading Services", accessed Aug 13, 2015: "An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a name or phrase. It is pronounced as if it were a word. Examples of common acronyms include "SARS" (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and "UNICEF" (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund)"

  14.  "The Difference Between an Acronym and an Initialism" "Today I Found Out", accessed Aug 13, 2015: "An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a name or phrase. It is pronounced as if it were a word. Examples of common acronyms include "SARS" (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and "UNICEF" (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund)"

  15. a b Crystal, David (1995). "Abbreviation".  The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language , Cambridge University Press.  ISBN 0-521-55985-5. p. 120: Under the heading "Types of Abbreviation", this article separately lists initialisms and acronyms, describing the latter as "Initialisms pronounced as single words", but adds, "However, some linguists do not recognize a sharp distinction between acronyms and initialisms, but use the former term for both."

  16.  "The 10 Most Misunderstood Terms in IT"  "TechTarget", accessed Aug 13, 2015: "An acronym is not any abbreviation, just one that forms a "sayable" word. Apart from that confusion, acronyms and other abbreviations cause confusion any time a reader is likely not to know what the spelled-out version is."

  17.  "initialism"  "Online Etymology Dictionary", accessed Aug 13, 2015: "initialism (n.) word formed from the first letters of other words or a phrase, 1957, from initial (n.) + -ism. The distinction from acronym is not universally agreed-upon; in general, words such as NATO, where the letters form a word, are regarded as acronyms, those such as FBI, where the letters sound as letters, are initialisms. The use of acronym in entries in this dictionary that are technically initialisms is a deliberate error, because many people only know to search for all such words under 'acronym.'"

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  20.  "acronym."  Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, accessed May 2, 2006: "a word (as NATO, radar, or laser) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term; also: an abbreviation (as FBI) formed from initial letters: see  initialism  "

  21.  "acronym".  Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (2003), Barnes & Noble.  ISBN 0-7607-4975-2: " 1.  a word created from the first letter or letters of each word in a series of words or a phrase.  2.  a set of initials representing a name, organization, or the like, with each letter pronounced separately, as  FBI  for  Federal Bureau of Investigation ."

  22.  "acronym"American Heritage Dictionary (5th ed.). 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2013. " Usage Note:  ... Acronyms are often distinguished from initialisms like  FBI  and  NIH , whose individual letters are pronounced as separate syllables. While observing this distinction has some virtue in precision, it may be lost on many people, for whom the term acronym refers to both kinds of abbreviations.

  23.  "acronym"  Oxford English Dictionary . Ed. J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. OED Online Oxford University Press. Accessed May 2, 2006.

  24.  CRT | Definition of CRT by Merriam-Webster

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  29.  "Nooit opgegeven, al 95 jaar doorgezet!" (in Dutch). NAC Breda. September 19, 2007. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Precies 95 jaar terug smolten NOAD (Nooit Opgeven Altijd Doorzetten) en Advendo (Aangenaam Door Vermaak en Nuttig Door Ontspanning) samen in de NOAD-ADVENDO Combinatie, kortom NAC.

  30.  Dart, James (December 14, 2005). "What is the longest team name in the world?"The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 19, 2009.

  31.  "Acronyms (and other forms of abbreviation)," Department of Homeland Security, 12 Nov 2008

  32. a b B. Davenport  American Notes and Queries  (February 1943) vol 2 page 167 "Your correspondent who asks about words made up of the initial letters or syllables of other words may be interested in knowing that I have seen such words called by the name  acronym , which is useful and clear to anyone who knows a little Greek."

  33.  Ingenious Trifling, www.etymonline.com

  34.  S. V. Baum (1962)  American Speech  Vol. 37 No. 1, The Acronym, Pure and Impure

  35.  American Speech  (1943) Vol. 18, No. 2, page 142

  36.  American Speech  (1950) Vol. 25 No. 2 page 147

  37. a b Wilton, David (2004). Word myths: debunking linguistic urban legendsISBN 978-0-19-517284-3. RetrievedSeptember 16, 2010.

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  42.  See  Snopes article.

  43. a b Quinion, Michael (2005). Port Out, Starboard Home: And Other Language Myths. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-101223-4.; published in the US as  Quinion, Michael (2006).Ballyhoo, Buckaroo, and Spuds. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-085153-8.

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  50.  Modern Language Association (MLA) Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition 2009, subsection 3.2.7.g

  51.  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 5th Edition 2001, subsection 3.28

  52.  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 6th Edition 2010, subsection 4.29

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  59.  02 Dec 1948 – Townsville Daily Bulletin – p1

  60.  14 Oct 1948 – PRIME MINISTER ASSERTS M's.P. HAVE NO IMMUNITY F

  61.  The Royal Caledonian Society of Melbourne

  62.  Garner, Bryan (27 August 2009). Garner's Modern American Usage. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. p. 638.ISBN 978-0-19-538275-4.

  63.  Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (6th ed.), Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-19-920687-2

  64.  "Styleguide". London: Guardian.co.uk. December 19, 2008. Use all capitals if an abbreviation is pronounced as the individual letters (an initialism): BBC, CEO, US, VAT, etc; if it is an acronym (pronounced as a word) spell out with initial capital, eg Nasa, Nato, Unicef, unless it can be considered to have entered the language as an everyday word, such as awol, laser and, more recently, asbo, pin number and sim card. Note that pdf and plc are lowercase.

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  79.  Our Market Research Shows That Players Like Really Long Card Names So We Made this Card to Have the Absolute Longest Card Name Ever Elemental (Unhinged) – Gatherer – Magic: Th...

External links

Look up acronym,initialism, or alphabetismin Wiktionary, the free dictionary.