What is an acronym? Definition and examples
An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a name (for
example, NATO, from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or by
combining the initial letters of a series of words (Radar, from radio
detection and range). Adjective: acronym. Also called program.
Strictly speaking, says lexicographer John Ayto, an acronym "denotes
a combination pronounced as a word...rather than a simple sequence of
letters" (A Century of New Words, 2007).
An acronym is an acronym (or other initialism) for which the expanded
form is not widely known or used, such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and
From the Greek, "dot" + "name"
Examples and observations
- Acronyms and abbreviations "The difference
between acronyms and abbreviations are as follows: acronyms are
proper words created from the initial letter or two of the words in
a sentence, and are pronounced like other words (cf. Snafu, radar,
laser, or UNESCO). By contrast, abbreviations do not form proper
words, so they are pronounced as strings of letters, for example,
SOB, IOU, USA, MP, lp, or television.'
- "I have a couple of lists that I can refer to throughout the
day, but I don't have the official 'FAT' book yet. Yes, it's
actually called the FAT Book (Acronym and Federal Terms)."
- Textspeak Acronym "Many acronyms meant to be written
have found their way into the spoken language, just ask your BFF, or
the co-worker who sets everything up with 'FYI. Lately, this is also
the case with Internet slang'.
- not next to my house not next to my house: from "Not In
My Back Yard" - for a person who is opposed to anything scheduled to
be built near his residence
- FEMA "Re-branding FEMA (Federal Emergency Management
Agency) doesn't fix the problem; it just puts a new acronym on it."
- Ancient Roots of the Acronym ' Acronym has ancient
roots, as illustrated by the early Christian use of the Greek word
ichtys meaning "fish" as an acronym for Therefore, Christos, Theou
Huios, Sōtēr ('Jesus Christ, son of God, Savior'). In English, the
first known acronyms (as opposed to the old initialisms) appeared in
the telegraphic code developed by Walter P. Phillips for the United
Press Association in 1879. The code abbreviated "Supreme Court of
the United States" as Scotus and 'President de la' as MACETA giving
way to POTUS for 1895. Those shorthands have remained in
journalistic and diplomatic circles, now accompanied by FLOTUS,
which of course means "First Lady of the United States".