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An acronym is a
word A word is a basic element of language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages are the primary means by which humans communicate, ...
or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase. Acronyms are usually formed from the initial letters of words, as in ''
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 30 Member sta ...
'' (''North Atlantic Treaty Organization''), but sometimes use syllables, as in ''
Benelux The Benelux Union ( nl, Benelux Unie; french: Union Benelux; lb, Benelux-Unioun), also known as simply Benelux, is a Political union, politico-economic union and formal international intergovernmental cooperation of three neighboring states in ...
'' (short for ''Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg''). They can also be a mixture, as in ''
radar Radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the distance (''ranging''), angle, and radial velocity of objects relative to the site. It can be used to detect aircraft, Marine radar, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor v ...
'' (''Radio Detection And Ranging''). Acronyms can be pronounced as words, like ''
NASA The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA ) is an independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the US federal government responsible for the civil List of government space agencies, space program ...
'' and ''
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international coope ...
''; as individual letters, like ''FBI'', '' TNT'', and ''ATM''; or as both letters and words, like ''
JPEG JPEG ( ) is a commonly used method of lossy compression for digital images, particularly for those images produced by digital photography. The degree of compression can be adjusted, allowing a selectable tradeoff between storage size and image ...
'' (pronounced ') and ''IUPAC''. Some are not universally pronounced one way or the other and it depends on the speaker's preference or the context in which it is being used, such as '' SQL'' (either "sequel" or "ess-cue-el"). The broader sense of ''acronym''—the meaning of which includes terms pronounced as letters—is sometimes criticized, but it is the term's original meaning and is in common use. Dictionary and style-guide editors are not in universal agreement on the naming for such
abbreviations An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for example, the word ''abbrevia ...
, and it is a matter of some dispute whether the term ''acronym'' can be legitimately applied to abbreviations which are not pronounced "as words", nor do these language authorities agree on the correct use of spacing, casing, and
punctuation Punctuation (or sometimes interpunction) is the use of spacing, conventional signs (called punctuation marks), and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading of writing, written text, whether read silently or ...
. Abbreviations formed from a string of
initial In a written or published work, an initial capital, also referred to as a drop capital or simply an initial cap, initial, initcapital, initcap or init or a drop cap or drop, is a letter at the beginning of a word, a chapter (books), chapter, or ...
s and usually pronounced as individual letters are sometimes more specifically called initialisms or alphabetisms; examples are ''FBI'' from ''
Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic Intelligence agency, intelligence and Security agency, security service of the United States and its principal Federal law enforcement in the United States, federal law enforcement age ...
'', and ''e.g.'' from Latin .


Etymology

The word ''acronym'' is formed from the Greek roots ''acr-'', meaning "height, summit, or tip" and ''-onym'', meaning "name". This
neoclassical compound Neoclassical compounds are compound word In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspec ...
appears to have originated in German, with attestations for the German form ' appearing as early as 1921. Citations in English date to a 1940 translation of a novel by the German writer
Lion Feuchtwanger Lion Feuchtwanger (; 7 July 1884 – 21 December 1958) was a German Jewish novelist and playwright. A prominent figure in the literary world of Weimar Germany, he influenced contemporaries including playwright Bertolt Brecht. Feuchtwanger's ...
.


Nomenclature

Whereas an
abbreviation An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for example, the word ''abbrevia ...
may be any type of shortened form, such as words with the middle omitted (for example, ''Rd'' for ''Road'' or ''Dr'' for ''
Doctor Doctor or The Doctor may refer to: Personal titles * Doctor (title), the holder of an accredited academic degree * A medical practitioner, including: ** Physician ** Surgeon ** Dentist ** Veterinary physician ** Optometrist *Other roles ** ...
'') or the end truncated (as in ''Prof.'' for ''Professor''), an acronym is—in the broad sense—formed from the first letter or first few letters of each important word in a phrase (such as ''
AIDS Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a retrovirus. Following initial infection an individual ma ...
'', from ''acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome'', and '' scuba'' from ''self-contained underwater breathing apparatus''). However, this is only a loose rule of thumb, as some acronyms are built in part from the first letters of
morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful Constituent (linguistics), constituent of a linguistic expression. The field of linguistics, linguistic study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology (linguistics), morphology. In English, morphemes are ...
s (word components; as in the ''i'' and ''d'' in ''immuno-deficiency'') or using a letter from the middle or end of a word, or from only a few key words in a long phrase or name. Less significant words such as ''in'', ''of'', and ''the'' are usually dropped (''NYT'' for ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'', ''DMV'' for '' Department of Motor Vehicles''), but not always (''TICA'' for ''
The International Cat Association The International Cat Association (TICA) is considered the world's largest genetic cat registry. Originally a North American organization, it now has a worldwide presence. The organization has a genetic registry for pedigreed and household pet cat ...
'', ''DOJ'' for '' Department of Justice''). Abbreviations formed from a string of initials and usually pronounced as individual letters (as in ''FBI'' from ''
Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic Intelligence agency, intelligence and Security agency, security service of the United States and its principal Federal law enforcement in the United States, federal law enforcement age ...
'', and ''e.g.'' from Latin ) are sometimes more specifically called
initialism An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase. Acronyms are usually formed from the initial letters of words, as in ''NATO'' (''North Atlantic Treaty Organization''), but sometimes use syllables, as ...
s or
alphabetism An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase. Acronyms are usually formed from the initial letters of words, as in ''NATO'' (''North Atlantic Treaty Organization''), but sometimes use syllables, as ...
s. Occasionally, some letter other than the first is chosen, most often when the pronunciation of the name of the letter coincides with the pronunciation of the beginning of the word (example: ''BX'' from ''
base exchange An exchange is a type of retail store found on United States Armed Forces, United States military installations worldwide. Originally akin to trading posts, they now resemble contemporary department stores or strip malls. Exact terminology varies ...
''). Acronyms that are usually pronounced as words, such as ''AIDS'' and ''scuba'', are sometimes called word acronyms, to disambiguate them more clearly from initialisms, especially since some users of the term "initialism" use "acronym" in a narrow sense meaning only the type sounded out as letters. Another sub-type of acronym (or a related form, depending upon one's definitions) is the
syllabic abbreviation An abbreviation (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) aro ...
, which is composed specifically of multi-letter syllabic (even multi-syllabic) fragments of the abbreviated words; some examples are ''
FOREX The foreign exchange market (Forex, FX, or currency market) is a global decentralized or over-the-counter (OTC) market for the trading of currencies. This market determines foreign exchange rates for every currency. It includes all as ...
'' from ''foreign exchange'', and ''
Interpol The International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO; french: link=no, Organisation internationale de police criminelle), commonly known as Interpol ( , ), is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and cri ...
'' from ''international'' + ''police'', though its full proper name in English is the International Criminal Police Organization. Usually the first syllable (or two) is used from each major component word, but there are exceptions, such as the US Navy term ''DESRON'' or ''DesRon'' from ''destroyer squadron''. There is no special term for abbreviations whose pronunciation involves the combination of letter names with words, or with word-like pronunciations of strings of letters, such as ''
JPEG JPEG ( ) is a commonly used method of lossy compression for digital images, particularly for those images produced by digital photography. The degree of compression can be adjusted, allowing a selectable tradeoff between storage size and image ...
'' () and ''
MS-DOS MS-DOS ( ; acronym for Microsoft Disk Operating System, also known as Microsoft DOS) is an operating system for x86-based personal computers mostly developed by Microsoft. Collectively, MS-DOS, its rebranding as IBM PC DOS, and a few oper ...
'' (). Similarly, there is no unique name for those that are a mixture of syllabic abbreviations and initialisms; these are usually pronounced as words (e.g., ''
radar Radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the distance (''ranging''), angle, and radial velocity of objects relative to the site. It can be used to detect aircraft, Marine radar, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor v ...
'' from ''radio detection and ranging'', consisting of one syllabic abbreviation and three single letters, and ''
sonar Sonar (sound navigation and ranging or sonic navigation and ranging) is a technique that uses sound propagation (usually underwater, as in submarine navigation) to navigation, navigate, measure distances (ranging), communicate with or detect o ...
'' from ''sound navigation ranging'', consisting of two syllabic abbreviations followed by a single acronymic letter for ''ranging''); these would generally qualify as word acronyms among those who use that term. There is also some disagreement as to what to call an abbreviation that some speakers pronounce as letters but others pronounce as a word. For example, the terms ''
URL A Uniform Resource Locator (URL), colloquially termed as a web address, is a reference to a web resource that specifies its location on a computer network A computer network is a set of computers sharing resources located on or provide ...
'' and ''IRA'' (for ''
individual retirement account An individual retirement account (IRA) in the United States is a form of pension provided by many financial institutions that provides tax advantages for retirement savings. It is a trust law, trust that holds investment assets purchased with a tax ...
'') can be pronounced as individual letters: and , respectively; or as a single word: and , respectively. The same character string may be pronounced differently when the meaning is different; ''IRA'' is always sounded out as ''I-R-A'' when standing for ''
Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary organisations in Ireland throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Organisations by this name have been dedicated to irredentism through Irish republicanism, the belief that ...
''. The spelled-out form of an acronym, initialism, or syllabic abbreviation (that is, what that abbreviation stands for) is called its ''expansion''.


Lexicography and style guides

It is an unsettled question in English
lexicography Lexicography is the study of lexicons, and is divided into two separate academic disciplines. It is the art of compiling dictionaries. * Practical lexicography is the art or craft of compiling, writing and editing dictionary, dictionaries. ...
and
style guide A style guide or manual of style is a set of standards for the writing, formatting, and design of documents. It is often called a style sheet, although that term also has multiple other meanings. The standards can be applied either for gene ...
s whether it is legitimate to use the word ''acronym'' to describe forms that use initials but are not pronounced as a word. While there is plenty of evidence that ''acronym'' is used widely in this way, some sources do not acknowledge this usage, reserving the term ''acronym'' only for forms pronounced as a word, and using ''initialism'' or ''abbreviation'' for those that are not. Some sources acknowledge the usage, but vary in whether they criticize or forbid it, allow it without comment, or explicitly advocate for it. Some mainstream English dictionaries from across the English-speaking world affirm a
sense A sense is a biological system used by an organism for sensation, the process of gathering information about the world through the detection of stimuli. (For example, in the human body, the brain A brain is an organ (biology), organ tha ...
of ''acronym'' which does not require being pronounced as a word. American English dictionaries such as ''
Merriam-Webster Merriam-Webster, Inc. is an American company that publishes reference work, reference books and is especially known for its dictionary, dictionaries. It is the oldest dictionary publisher in the United States. In 1831, George Merriam, George a ...
'', Dictionary.com's ''
Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary ''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary'' is a large American dictionary, first published in 1966 as ''The Random House Dictionary of the English Language: The Unabridged Edition''. Edited by Editor-in-chief Jess Stein, it contained 315,0 ...
'' and the ''
American Heritage Dictionary American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the "United States" or "America" ** Americans, citizens and nationals of the United States of America ** American ancestry, pe ...
'' as well as the British ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the first and foundational historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a com ...
'' and the Australian ''
Macquarie Dictionary The ''Macquarie Dictionary'' () is a dictionary of Australian English. It is generally considered by universities and the legal profession to be the authoritative source on Australian English. It also pays considerable attention to New Zealand En ...
'' all include a sense in their entries for ''acronym'' equating it with ''initialism'', although ''The American Heritage Dictionary'' criticizes it with the label "usage problem". However, many English language dictionaries, such as the '' Collins COBUILD Advanced Dictionary'', ''
Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary The ''Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary'' (abbreviated ''CALD'') was first published in 1995 under the name ''Cambridge International Dictionary of English'', by the Cambridge University Press Cambridge University Press is the ...
'', '' Macmillan Dictionary'', ''
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English The ''Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English'' (''LDOCE''), first published by Longman in 1978, is an advanced learner's dictionary, providing definitions using a restricted vocabulary, helping non-native English speakers understand meaning ...
'', ''
New Oxford American Dictionary The ''New Oxford American Dictionary'' (''NOAD'') is a single-volume dictionary of American English compiled by American editors at the Oxford University Press. ''NOAD'' is based upon the ''New Oxford Dictionary of English'' (''NODE''), published ...
'', '' Webster's New World Dictionary'', and ''
Lexico Lexico was a dictionary website that provided a collection of English and Spanish dictionaries produced by Oxford University Press (OUP), the publishing house of the University of Oxford. While the dictionary content on Lexico came from OUP, th ...
'' from Oxford University Press do not acknowledge such a sense. Most of the dictionary entries and style guide recommendations regarding the term ''acronym'' through the twentieth century did not explicitly acknowledge or support the expansive sense. The Merriam–Webster's Dictionary of English Usage from 1994 is one of the earliest publications to advocate for the expansive sense,Merriam-Webster, Inc. ''Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage'', 1994. . pp. 21–22: and all the major dictionary editions that include a sense of ''acronym'' equating it with ''initialism'' were first published in the twenty-first century. The trend among dictionary editors appears to be towards including a sense defining ''acronym'' as ''initialism'': The ''Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary'' added such a sense in its eleventh edition in 2003, and both the ''Oxford English Dictionary'' and the ''American Heritage Dictionary'' added such senses in their 2011 editions. The 1989 edition of the ''Oxford English Dictionary'' only included the exclusive sense for ''acronym'' and its earliest citation was from 1943. In early December 2010,
Duke University Duke University is a Private university, private research university in Durham, North Carolina. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day city of Trinity, North Carolina, Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, t ...
researcher Stephen Goranson published a citation for ''acronym'' to the American Dialect Society e-mail discussion list which refers to ''PGN'' being pronounced "pee-gee-enn," antedating English language usage of the word to 1940. Linguist
Ben Zimmer Benjamin Zimmer (born 1971) is an American linguist, lexicographer, and language commentator. He is a language columnist for ''The Wall Street Journal'' and contributing editor for ''The Atlantic''. He was formerly a language columnist for ''The ...
then mentioned this citation in his December 16, 2010 "
On Language ''On Language'' was a regular column in the weekly ''New York Times Magazine'' on the English language discussing popular etymology, new or unusual usages, and other language-related topics. The inaugural column was published on February 18, 197 ...
" column about acronyms in
The New York Times Magazine ''The New York Times Magazine'' is an American Sunday magazine Supplement (publishing), supplement included with the Sunday edition of ''The New York Times''. It features articles longer than those typically in the newspaper and has attracted man ...
. By 2011, the publication of the third edition of the ''Oxford English Dictionary'' added the expansive sense to its entry for ''acronym'' and included the 1940 citation. As the ''Oxford English Dictionary'' structures the senses in order of chronological development, it now gives the "initialism" sense first. English language usage and style guides which have entries for ''acronym'' generally criticize the usage that refers to forms that are not pronounceable words. ''
Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage ''A Dictionary of Modern English Usage'' (1926), by Henry Watson Fowler (1858–1933), is a style guide to British English usage, pronunciation, and writing. Covering topics such as English plural, plurals and literary technique, distinctions a ...
'' says that ''acronym'' "denotes abbreviations formed from initial letters of other words and pronounced as a single word, such as ''NATO'' (as distinct from ''B-B-C'')" but adds later "In everyday use, ''acronym'' is often applied to abbreviations that are technically initialisms, since they are pronounced as separate letters." The Chicago Manual of Style acknowledges the complexity ("Furthermore, an acronym and initialism are occasionally combined (JPEG), and the line between initialism and acronym is not always clear") but still defines the terms as mutually exclusive. Other guides outright deny any legitimacy to the usage: '' Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words'' says "Abbreviations that are not pronounced as words (IBM, ABC, NFL) are not acronyms; they are just abbreviations." '' Garner's Modern American Usage'' says "An acronym is made from the first letters or parts of a compound term. It's read or spoken as a single word, not letter by letter." '' The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage'' says "Unless pronounced as a word, an abbreviation is not an acronym." In contrast, some style guides do support it, whether explicitly or implicitly. The 1994 edition of '' Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage'' defends the usage on the basis of a claim that dictionaries do not make a distinction. The
BuzzFeed BuzzFeed, Inc. is an American Internet mass media, media, news and entertainment company with a focus on digital media. Based in New York City, BuzzFeed was founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti and John Seward Johnson III, John S. Johnson III to ...
style guide describes CBS and PBS as "acronyms ending in S".


Comparing a few examples of each type

*Pronounced as a word, containing ''only'' initial letters **
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 30 Member sta ...
: "North Atlantic Treaty Organization" ** Scuba: "self-contained underwater breathing apparatus" **
Laser A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The word "laser" is an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". The fi ...
: "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation" ** GIF: "graphics interchange format" *Pronounced as a word, containing a mixture of initial and non-initial letters **
Amphetamine Amphetamine (contracted from Alpha and beta carbon, alpha-methylphenethylamine, methylphenethylamine) is a strong central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolep ...
: "alpha-methyl-phenethylamine" **''
Gestapo The (), Syllabic abbreviation, abbreviated Gestapo (; ), was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and in German-occupied Europe. The force was created by Hermann Göring in 1933 by combining the various political police agencies of F ...
'': ' (secret state police) **
Radar Radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the distance (''ranging''), angle, and radial velocity of objects relative to the site. It can be used to detect aircraft, Marine radar, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor v ...
: "radio detection and ranging" *Pronounced as a combination of spelling out and a word **
CD-ROM A CD-ROM (, compact disc read-only memory) is a type of read-only memory consisting of a pre-pressed optical compact disc that contains computer data storage, data. Computers can read—but not write or erase—CD-ROMs. Some CDs, called enhanced ...
: (''cee-dee-'') "compact disc read-only memory" **
IUPAC The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC ) is an international federation of National Adhering Organizations working for the advancement of the chemical sciences, especially by developing nomenclature and terminology. It is ...
: (''i-u-'' or ''i-u-pee-a-cee'') "International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry" **
JPEG JPEG ( ) is a commonly used method of lossy compression for digital images, particularly for those images produced by digital photography. The degree of compression can be adjusted, allowing a selectable tradeoff between storage size and image ...
: (''jay-'' or ''jay-pee-e-gee'') "Joint Photographic Experts Group" ** SFMOMA: (''ess-ef-'' or ''ess-ef-em-o-em-a'') "San Francisco Museum of Modern Art" *Pronounced only as a string of letters **
BBC #REDIRECT BBC
Here i going to introduce about the best teacher of my life b BALAJI sir. He is the precious gift that I got befor 2yrs . How has helped and thought all the concept and made my success in the 10th board exam. ...
: "British Broadcasting Corporation" ** OEM: "original equipment manufacturer" **
USA The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entir ...
: "United States of America" **
VHF Very high frequency (VHF) is the International Telecommunication Union, ITU designation for the range of radio frequency electromagnetic waves (radio waves) from 30 to 300 megahertz (MHz), with corresponding wavelengths of ten meters to one met ...
: "very high frequency" *Pronounced as a string of letters, but with a shortcut **AAA: ***(''Triple-A'') "
American Automobile Association American Automobile Association (AAA – commonly pronounced as "Triple A") is a federation of motor clubs throughout North America. AAA is a privately held not-for-profit national member association and service organization with over 60 ...
"; "
abdominal aortic aneurysm Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a localized enlargement of the abdominal aorta such that the diameter is greater than 3 cm or more than 50% larger than normal. They usually cause no symptoms, except during rupture. Occasionally, abdominal, ...
"; "
anti-aircraft artillery Anti-aircraft warfare, counter-air or air defence forces is the battlespace response to aerial warfare, defined by NATO as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action".AAP-6 It includes Surface-to-air m ...
"; " Asistencia, Asesoría y Administración" ***(''Three-As'') "
Amateur Athletic Association The Amateur Athletic Association of England or AAA (pronounced 'three As') is the oldest national governing body for athletics (sport), athletics in the world, having been established on 24 April 1880. Historically it effectively oversaw athletic ...
" **
IEEE The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is a 501(c)(3) organization, 501(c)(3) professional association for electronic engineering and electrical engineering (and associated disciplines) with its corporate office in New Yor ...
: (''I triple-E'') "Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers" **
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E.&nb ...
: (''N double-A C P'' or ''N A A C P'') "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People" **
NCAA The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student athlete, student athletics among about 1,100 schools in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It also organizes the athletic sports, ...
: (''N C double-A'' or ''N C two-A'' or ''N C A A'') "National Collegiate Athletic Association" *Shortcut incorporated into name ** 3M: (''three M'') originally "Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company" ** W3C: (''W-three C'') "World Wide Web Consortium" **
A2DP In order to use Bluetooth, a device must be compatible with the subset of Bluetooth ''profiles'' (often called services or functions) necessary to use the desired services. A Bluetooth profile is a specification regarding an aspect of Bluetooth-b ...
: (''A-two D P'') "Advanced Audio Distribution Profile" **
C4ISTAR Command and control (abbr. C2) is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ...
hat A hat is a head covering which is worn for various reasons, including protection against weather conditions, ceremonial reasons such as university graduation, religious reasons, safety, or as a fashion accessory. Hats which incorporate mech ...
employs human, physical, and information resources to solve problems and accomplish missions" to achieve the goals of an organization o ...
: (''C-four Istar'') "Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance" *Mnemonic acronyms, an abbreviation that is used to remember
phrase In syntax and grammar, a phrase is a group of words or singular word acting as a grammatical unit. For instance, the English language, English expression "the very happy squirrel" is a noun phrase which contains the adjective phrase "very happy". ...
s or
principle A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a Legal rule, rule that has to be or usually is to be followed. It can be desirably followed, or it can be an inevitable consequence of something, suc ...
s **
KISS A kiss is the touch or pressing of one's lips against another person or an object. Cultural connotations of kissing vary widely. Depending on the culture and context, a kiss can express sentiments of love Love encompasses a range of s ...
(Kiss) "Keep it simple, stupid", a design principle preferring simplicity **
SMART Smart or SMART may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Smart (Hey! Say! JUMP album), ''Smart'' (Hey! Say! JUMP album), 2014 * Smart (Hotels.com), former mascot of Hotels.com * Smart (Sleeper album), ''Smart'' (Sleeper album), 1995 debut album b ...
(Smart) "Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time-related", A principle of setting of goals and objectives ** FAST (Fast) "Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties, Time", helps detect and enhance responsiveness to the needs of a person having a
stroke A stroke is a disease, medical condition in which poor cerebral circulation, blood flow to the brain causes cell death. There are two main types of stroke: brain ischemia, ischemic, due to lack of blood flow, and intracranial hemorrhage, hemorr ...
** DRY (Dry) "Don't repeat yourself", A principle of software development aimed at reducing repetition of software patterns *Multi-layered acronyms ** AIM: "AOL Instant Messenger," in which "
AOL AOL (stylized as Aol., formerly a company known as AOL Inc. and originally known as America Online) is an American web portal and online service provider based in New York City. It is a brand marketed by the current incarnation of Yahoo (2017 ...
" originally stood for "America Online" ** AFTA: "ASEAN Free Trade Area," where
ASEAN ASEAN ( , ), officially the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a Political union, political and economic union of 10 member Sovereign state, states in Southeast Asia, which promotes intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental coo ...
stands for "Association of Southeast Asian Nations" **
NAC Breda NAC Breda (), often simply known as NAC, is a Dutch professional football club (association football), football club, based in Breda, Netherlands. NAC Breda play in the Rat Verlegh Stadion, Rat Verlegh Stadium, named after their most important p ...
: (Dutch football club) "NOAD ADVENDO Combinatie" ("NOAD ADVENDO Combination"), formed by the 1912 merger of two clubs from Breda: ***NOAD: (' "Never give up, always persevere") ***ADVENDO: (' "Pleasant by entertainment and useful by relaxation") **
GIMP GIMP ( ; GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free and open-source raster graphics editor used for image manipulation (retouching) and image editing, free-form drawing, transcoding between different image file formats, and more specialized task ...
: " GNU image manipulation program" * Recursive acronyms, in which the abbreviation refers to itself ** GNU: "GNU's not Unix!" **
Wine Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from Fermentation in winemaking, fermented grapes. Yeast in winemaking, Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide, releasing heat in the process. Different ...
: "Wine is not an emulator" (originally, "Windows emulator") **TLA: Three Lettered Acronyms **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 This makes them
gramogram A gramogram, grammagram, or letteral word is a letter or group of letters which can be pronounced to form one or more words, as in "CU" for "see you". They are a subset of rebuses, and are commonly used as abbreviations. They are sometimes used as ...
s. ** CQ: ''cee-cue'' for "seek you", a code used by radio operators ** IOU: ''i-o-u'' for "I owe you" ** K9: ''kay-nine'' for "canine," used to designate police units utilizing dogs *Abbreviations whose last abbreviated word is often redundantly included anyway ** ATM machine: "automated teller machine" (machine) **
HIV The human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) are two species of ''Lentivirus'' (a subgroup of retrovirus) that infect humans. Over time, they cause AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in which progressive failure of the ...
virus: "human immunodeficiency virus" (virus) **
LCD A liquid-crystal display (LCD) is a flat panel display, flat-panel display or other Electro-optic modulator, electronically modulated optical device that uses the light-modulating properties of liquid crystals combined with polarizers. Liqui ...
display: "liquid-crystal display" (display) ** PIN number: "personal identification number" (number) *Pronounced as a word, containing letters as a word in itself **
PAYGO PAYGO (Pay As You GO) is the practice in the United States of financing expenditures with Collective investment scheme, funds that are currently available rather than borrowed. Budgeting The PAYGO compels new spending or tax changes not to add to ...
: "pay-as-you-go"


Historical and current use

Acronymy, like
retronym A retronym is a newer name for an existing thing that helps differentiate the original form/version from a more recent one. It is thus a word or phrase created to avoid confusion between older and newer types, whereas previously (before there were ...
y, is a linguistic process that has existed throughout history but for which there was little to no
naming Naming is assigning a name to something. Naming may refer to: * Naming (parliamentary procedure), a procedure in certain parliamentary bodies * Naming ceremony, an event at which an infant is named * Product naming, the discipline of deciding wha ...
, 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 (before the term "acronym" was invented) 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 SPQR, an abbreviation for (; en, "The Roman Senate and Roman people, People"; or more freely "The Senate and Roman people, People of Rome"), is an emblematic abbreviated phrase referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic. It app ...
'' ('). Inscriptions dating from antiquity, both on stone and on coins, use many abbreviations and acronyms to save space 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 ', meaning "son", 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 ' (sacred names) were used in many Greek biblical manuscripts. The common words "God" (), "Jesus" (), "Christ" (), 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
icon An icon () is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, in the cultures of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Catholic Church, Catholic churches. They are not simply artworks; "an icon is a sacred image used in religious devo ...
s and the stamps used to mark the eucharistic bread in
Eastern Churches Eastern Christianity comprises Christianity, Christian traditions and Christian denomination, church families that originally developed during Classical antiquity, classical and late antiquity in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, Southeastern Eu ...
. * 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 Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 or 33), also referred to as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth (among other Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament, names and titles), was ...
in part because of an acronym (or
backronym A backronym is an acronym formed from an already existing word by expanding its letters into the words of a phrase. Backronyms may be invented with either serious or humorous intent, or they may be a type of false etymology or folk etymology. The ...
): "fish" in Greek is ' (), which was construed to stand for (': "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior"). This interpretation dates from the 2nd and 3rd centuries and is preserved in the
catacombs Catacombs are man-made subterranean passageways for religious practice. Any chamber used as a burial place is a catacomb, although the word is most commonly associated with the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc ...
of Rome. Another ancient acronym for Jesus is the inscription ''
INRI In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the King of the Jews, both at the beginning of his life and at the end. In the Koine Greek of the New Testament, e.g., in John 19:3, this is written as ''Basileus ton Ioudaion'' (). Both uses of the ...
'' over the crucifix, for the Latin ' ("Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews"). * The Hebrew language has a centuries-long history of acronyms pronounced as words. The Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament") is known as "
Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;"Tanach"
'' Torah The Torah (; hbo, ''Tōrā'', "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") is the compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, namely the books of Book of Genesis, Genesis, Book of Exodus, Exodus, Leviticus, Book of Numbers, Numbers a ...
" (five books of Moses), "
Nevi'im Nevi'im (; he, נְבִיאִים ''Nəvīʾīm'', Tiberian: ''Năḇīʾīm,'' "Prophets", literally "spokespersons") is the second major division of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;
" (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 Musa ibn Maimon (1138–1204), commonly known as Maimonides (); la, Moses Maimonides and also referred to by the acronym Rambam ( he, רמב״ם), was a Sephardi Jews, Sephardic Jewish Jewish philosophy, philosopher who became one of the mos ...
and
Rashi Shlomo Yitzchaki ( he, רבי שלמה יצחקי; la, Salomon Isaacides; french: Salomon de Troyes, 22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), today generally known by the acronym Rashi (see #Name, below), was a France in the Middle Ages, medieval Fr ...
from the initial letters of their full Hebrew names: "Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon" and "Rabbi Shlomo Yitzkhaki". During the mid- to late 19th century, acronyms became a trend among American and European businessmen: abbreviating
corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the State (polity), state to act as a single entity (a legal entity recognized by private and public law "born out of statute"; a legal person in legal ...
names, such as on the sides of
railroad car A railroad car, railcar (American English, American and Canadian English), railway wagon, railway carriage, railway truck, railwagon, railcarriage or railtruck (British English and International Union of Railways, UIC), also called a train car ...
s (e.g., "Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad" → "RF&P"); on the sides of barrels and crates; and on
ticker tape Ticker tape was the earliest electrical dedicated financial communications medium, transmitting stock price information over electrical telegraph, telegraph lines, in use from around 1870 through 1970. It consisted of a paper strip that ran thro ...
and newspaper stock listings (e.g. American Telephone and Telegraph Company → AT&T). Some well-known commercial examples dating from the 1890s through 1920s include "
Nabisco Nabisco (, abbreviated from the earlier name National Biscuit Company) is an American manufacturer of cookies and snacks headquartered in East Hanover, New Jersey. The company is a subsidiary of Illinois-based Mondelēz International. Nabisco's ...
" ("National Biscuit Company"),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." "
Esso Esso () is a trading name for ExxonMobil. Originally, the name was primarily used by its predecessor Standard Oil of New Jersey after the breakup of the original Standard Oil company in 1911. The company adopted the name "Esso" (the phoneti ...
" (from "S.O.", from "
Standard Oil Standard Oil Company, Inc., was an American petroleum, oil production, transportation, refining, and marketing company that operated from 1870 to 1911. At its height, Standard Oil was the largest petroleum company in the world, and its success ma ...
"), and "
Sunoco Sunoco LP is an American master limited partnership organized under Delaware General Corporation Law, Delaware state laws and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, that is a wholesale distributor of motor fuels. It distributes fuel to more than 5, ...
" ("Sun Oil Company"). Another field for the adoption of acronyms was modern warfare, with its many highly technical terms. While there is no recorded use of military acronyms dating from the
American Civil War The American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 26, 1865; also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States. It was fought between the Union (American Civil War), Union ("the North") and t ...
(acronyms such as " ANV" for "Army of Northern Virginia" postdate the war itself), they became somewhat common in
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...
, and by
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
they were widespread even in the slang of soldiers, who referred to themselves as G.I.s. The widespread, frequent use of acronyms across the whole range of linguistic registers is relatively new in most languages, becoming increasingly evident since the mid-20th century. As literacy spread and technology produced a constant stream of new and complex terms, abbreviations became increasingly convenient. The ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the first and foundational historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a com ...
'' (''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. In English, acronyms 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 nglishword 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." However, although acronymic words seem not to have been before the 20th century (as Wilton points out), the is treated as effortlessly understood (and evidently not novel) in an
Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allan Poe (; Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary criticism, literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the ...
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
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language is in contrast with a "standard language". It refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, n ...
s has been pan-European and predates modern English. Some examples of acronyms in this class are: *'' A.M.'' (from Latin ', "before noon") and '' P.M.'' (from Latin ', "after noon") *''A.D.'' (from Latin ', "in the year of our Lord"), whose complement in English, ''B.C.'' /nowiki> /nowiki>Before_Christ">Before_Christ.html"_;"title="/nowiki>Before_Christ">/nowiki>Before_Christ/nowiki>,_is_English-sourced The_earliest_example_of_a_word_derived_from_an_acronym_listed_by_the_''Oxford_English_Dictionary.html" ;"title="Before_Christ.html" ;"title="Before_Christ.html" ;"title="/nowiki>Before Christ">/nowiki>Before Christ">Before_Christ.html" ;"title="/nowiki>Before Christ">/nowiki>Before Christ/nowiki>, is English-sourced The earliest example of a word derived from an acronym listed by the ''Oxford English Dictionary">OED'' is "abjud" (now "abjad"), formed from the original first four letters of the Arabic alphabet in the late 18th century. Some acrostics predate this, however, such as the English Restoration, Restoration witticism arranging the names of some members of Charles II's Committee for Foreign Affairs to produce the "CABAL" ministry. '' O.K.'', a term of disputed origin, dates back at least to the early 19th century and is 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 A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their distinc ...
and government agencies frequently employ acronyms; some well-known examples from the United States are among the " alphabet agencies" (jokingly referred to as " alphabet soup") created under the
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, Public works, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States between 1933 and 1939. Major federal programs agencies included the C ...
by Franklin D. Roosevelt (himself known as "FDR"). Business and industry also coin acronyms prolificly. The rapid advance of science and technology also drives the usage, as new inventions and concepts with multiword names create a demand for shorter, more pronounceable names. One representative example, from the U.S. Navy, is "COMCRUDESPAC", which stands for "commander, cruisers destroyers Pacific"; it is also seen as "ComCruDesPac". Inventors are encouraged to anticipate the formation of acronyms by making new terms "YABA-compatible" ("yet another bloody acronym"), meaning the term's acronym can be pronounced and is not an offensive word: "When choosing a new name, be sure it is 'YABA-compatible'." Acronym use has been further popularized by text messaging on mobile phones with
short message service Short Message/Messaging Service, commonly abbreviated as SMS, is a text messaging service component of most telephone, Internet and mobile device systems. It uses standardized communication protocols that let mobile devices exchange short text ...
(SMS), and
instant messenger Instant messaging (IM) technology is a type of online chat Online chat may refer to any kind of communication over the Internet that offers a real-time text, real-time transmission of text-based, text messages from sender to receiver. Chat ...
(IM). To fit messages into the 160-character SMS limit, and to save time, acronyms such as "GF" ("girlfriend"), "LOL" ("laughing out loud"), and "DL" ("download" or "down low") have become popular. Some prescriptivists disdain texting acronyms and abbreviations as decreasing clarity, or as failure to use "pure" or "proper" English. Others point out that languages have always continually changed, and argue that acronyms should be embraced as inevitable, or as innovation that adapts the language to changing circumstances. In this view, the modern practice is just the "proper" English of the current generation of speakers, much like the earlier abbreviation of corporation names on ticker tape or newspapers. Exact pronunciation of "word acronyms" (those pronounced as words rather than sounded out as individual letters) often vary by speaker population. These may be regional, occupational, or generational differences, or simply personal preference. For instance, there have been decades of online debate about how to pronounce GIF ( or ) and
BIOS In computing, BIOS (, ; Basic Input/Output System, also known as the System BIOS, ROM BIOS, BIOS ROM or PC BIOS) is firmware used to provide runtime services for operating systems and programs and to perform Computer hardware, hardware initializ ...
(, , or ). Similarly, some letter-by-letter initialisms may become word acronyms over time, especially in combining forms: ''IP'' for ''
Internet Protocol The Internet Protocol (IP) is the network layer communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite for relaying datagrams across network boundaries. Its routing function enables internetworking, and essentially establishes the Internet. IP h ...
'' is generally said as two letters, but ''
IPsec In computing, Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) is a secure network protocol suite that authentication, authenticates and encryption, encrypts packet (information technology), packets of data to provide secure encrypted communication between two c ...
'' for ''Internet Protocol Security'' is usually pronounced as or , along with variant capitalization like "IPSEC" and "Ipsec". Pronunciation may even vary within a single speaker's vocabulary, depending on narrow contexts. As an example, the database programming language SQL is usually said as three letters, but in reference to Microsoft's implementation is traditionally pronounced like the word ''
sequel A sequel is a work of literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent cent ...
''.


Expansion at first use

In writing for a broad audience, the words of an acronym are typically written out in full at its first occurrence within a given text. EAFU (Expansion At First Use) benefits readers unfamiliar with the acronym. Another text aid is an abbreviation key which lists and expands all acronyms used, a reference for readers who skipped past the first use. (This is especially important for paper media, where no search utility is available to find the first use.) It also gives students a convenient review list to memorize the important acronyms introduced in a textbook chapter. Expansion at first use and abbreviation keys originated in the print era, but they are equally useful for electronic text.


Jargon

While acronyms provide convenience and succinctness for specialists, they often degenerate into confusing
jargon Jargon is the specialized terminology associated with a particular field or area of activity. Jargon is normally employed in a particular Context (language use), communicative context and may not be well understood outside that context. The conte ...
. This may be intentional, to exclude readers without domain-specific knowledge. New acronyms may also confuse when they coincide with an already existing acronym having a different meaning. Medical literature has been struggling to control the proliferation of acronyms, including efforts by the American Academy of Dermatology.


As mnemonics

Acronyms are often taught as
mnemonic A mnemonic ( ) device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembering) in the human memory for better understanding. Mnemonics make use of elaborative encoding, retrieval cues, and imagery ...
devices: for example the colors of the rainbow are ROY G. BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). They are also used as mental checklists: in aviation GUMPS stands for gas-undercarriage-mixture-propeller-seatbelts. Other mnemonic acronyms include CAN SLIM in finance, PAVPANIC in English grammar, and PEMDAS in mathematics.


Acronyms as legendary etymology

It is not uncommon for acronyms to be cited in a kind of
false etymology A false etymology (fake etymology, popular etymology, etymythology, pseudo-etymology, or par(a)etymology) is a popular but false belief about the origin or derivation of a specific word. It is sometimes called a folk etymology, but this is also a ...
, called a
folk etymology Folk etymology (also known as popular etymology, analogical reformation, reanalysis, morphological reanalysis or etymological reinterpretation) is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more famili ...
, for a word. Such etymologies persist in popular culture but have no factual basis in
historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages # ...
, and are examples of language-related
urban legend An urban legend (sometimes contemporary legend, modern legend, urban myth, or urban tale) is a genre of folklore comprising stories or fallacious claims circulated as true, especially as having happened to a "friend of a friend" or a family ...
s. For example, " cop" is commonly cited as being derived, it is presumed, from "constable on patrol", and " posh" from " port outward, starboard home".; published in the US as With some of these specious expansions, the "belief" that the etymology is acronymic has clearly been
tongue-in-cheek The idiom tongue-in-cheek refers to a humorous or sarcasm, sarcastic statement expressed in a serious manner. History The phrase originally expressed contempt, but by 1842 had acquired its modern meaning. Early users of the phrase include Sir Wal ...
among many citers, as with "gentlemen only, ladies forbidden" for "
golf Golf is a club-and-ball sport in which players use various Golf club, clubs to hit Golf ball, balls into a series of holes on a golf course, course in as few strokes as possible. Golf, unlike most ball games, cannot and does not use a standar ...
", although many other (more credulous) people have uncritically taken it for fact.
Taboo word Word taboo, also called taboo language, language taboo or linguistic taboo is a kind of taboo that involves restricting the use of words or other parts of language due to social constraints. This may be due to a taboo on specific parts of the langu ...
s in particular commonly have such false etymologies: "
shit ''Shit'' is a word considered to be Vulgarism, vulgar and Profanity, profane in English language, Modern English. As a noun, it refers to feces, fecal matter, and as a verb it means to defecation, defecate; in the plural ("the shits"), it mea ...
" from "ship/store high in transit" or "special high-intensity training" and "
fuck ''Fuck'' is an English-language expletive. It often refers to the act of sexual intercourse, but is also commonly used as an intensifier or to convey disdain. While its origin is obscure, it is usually considered to be first attested to arou ...
" from "for unlawful carnal knowledge", or "fornication under consent/command of the king".


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 The ellipsis (, also known informally as dot dot dot) is a series of dots that indicates an intentional omission of a word, sentence, or whole section from a text without altering its original meaning. The plural is ellipses. The term origin ...
of letters – although the colon and
apostrophe The apostrophe ( or ) is a punctuation mark, and sometimes a diacritical mark, in languages that use the Latin alphabet and some other alphabets. In English, the apostrophe is used for two basic purposes: * The marking of the omission of one o ...
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.


=Ellipsis-is-understood style

= Some influential
style guide A style guide or manual of style is a set of standards for the writing, formatting, and design of documents. It is often called a style sheet, although that term also has multiple other meanings. The standards can be applied either for gene ...
s, such as that of the
BBC #REDIRECT BBC
Here i going to introduce about the best teacher of my life b BALAJI sir. He is the precious gift that I got befor 2yrs . How has helped and thought all the concept and made my success in the 10th board exam. ...
, no longer require punctuation to show
ellipsis The ellipsis (, also known informally as dot dot dot) is a series of dots that indicates an intentional omission of a word, sentence, or whole section from a text without altering its original meaning. The plural is ellipses. The term origin ...
; some even proscribe it. Larry Trask, American author of ''The
Penguin Penguins (order (biology), order List of Sphenisciformes by population, Sphenisciformes , family (biology), family Spheniscidae ) are a group of Water bird, aquatic flightless birds. They live almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere: on ...
Guide to Punctuation'', states categorically that, in
British English British English (BrE, en-GB, or BE) is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, " English as used in Great Britain, as distinct from that used elsewhere". More narrowly, it can refer specifically to the English language in England, or, more broa ...
, "this tiresome and unnecessary practice is now obsolete."


=Pronunciation-dependent style and periods

= Nevertheless, some influential
style guide A style guide or manual of style is a set of standards for the writing, formatting, and design of documents. It is often called a style sheet, although that term also has multiple other meanings. The standards can be applied either for gene ...
s, many of them American, still require periods in certain instances. For example, '' The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage'' 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 The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 30 Member sta ...
". 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 ''single'' word ("television" or "transvestite", for instance), and is in general spelled without punctuation (except in the plural). Although "PS" stands for the single word "
postscript PostScript (PS) is a page description language in the electronic publishing and desktop publishing realm. It is a Type system, dynamically typed, concatenative programming language. It was created at Adobe Systems by John Warnock, Charles Gesc ...
" (or the Latin ''postscriptum''), it is often spelled with periods ("P.S."). The slash ('/', or ''solidus'') is sometimes used to separate the letters in an acronym, as in "N/A" ("not applicable, not available") and "c/o" ("care of"). Inconveniently long words used frequently in related contexts can be represented according to their letter count as a numeronym. For example, "i18n" abbreviates "
internationalization In economics, internationalization or internationalisation is the process of increasing involvement of enterprises in international markets, although there is no agreed definition of internationalization. Internationalization is a crucial strateg ...
", 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 Accessibility is the design of products, devices, services, vehicles, or environments so as to be usable by people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design and practice of accessible development ensures both "direct access" (i.e ...
" "a11y". In addition to the use of a specific number replacing that many 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 History (derived ) is the systematic study and the documentation of the human activity. The time period of event before the invention of writing systems is considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term comprising past events as we ...
,
diagnosis Diagnosis is the identification of the nature and cause of a certain phenomenon. Diagnosis is used in many different academic discipline, disciplines, with variations in the use of logic, analytics, and experience, to determine "causality, cause a ...
, 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,Turabian, K., ''A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations'', 7th Edition, subsection 20.1.2 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 The Modern Language Association of America, often referred to as the Modern Language Association (MLA), is widely considered the principal professional association in the United States for scholars of language and literature. The MLA aims to "st ...
Modern Language Association (MLA) Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th Edition 2009, subsection 3.2.7.g and
American Psychological Association The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States, with over 133,000 members, including scientists, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students. It has ...
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 5th Edition 2001, subsection 3.28Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 6th Edition 2010, subsection 4.29 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 Manual of Style and Usage'' requires an apostrophe when pluralizing all abbreviations regardless of periods (preferring "PC's, TV's and VCR's"). 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). 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. 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". (or similar), as used by former Australian Prime Minister
Ben Chifley Joseph Benedict Chifley (; 22 September 1885 – 13 June 1951) was an Australian politician who served as the 16th prime minister of Australia from 1945 to 1949. He held office as the leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) from 1945, follow ...
. 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". The argument that acronyms should have no different plural form (for example, "If ''D'' can stand for ''disc'', it can also stand for ''discs''") 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 States", 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 forgone in favor of simple
attributive In grammar, an attributive expression is a word or phrase within a noun phrase In linguistics, a noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase that has a noun or pronoun as its head (linguistics), head or performs the same Grammar, grammatical f ...
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" is sometimes 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 ', for ' ('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", ', or ''MSS'' for "manuscripts". In the case of ''pp.'' it derives from the original Latin phrase " per procurationem" meaning 'through the agency of'; an English translation alternative is ''particular pages'' in a book or document: see pp. 8–88.


Case


All-caps style

The most common
capitalization Capitalization (American English) or capitalisation (British English) is writing a word with its first Letter (alphabet), letter as a capital letter (uppercase letter) and the remaining letters in lower case, in writing systems with a Letter cas ...
scheme seen with acronyms is all-uppercase (
all caps In typography, all caps (short for "all capitals") refers to text or a typeface, font in which all letters are capital letters, for example: "THIS TEXT IS IN ALL CAPS". All caps may be used for emphasis (for a word or phrase). They are commonly ...
), 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 A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The word "laser" is an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". The fi ...
", and "
radar Radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the distance (''ranging''), angle, and radial velocity of objects relative to the site. It can be used to detect aircraft, Marine radar, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor v ...
": these are known as ''anacronyms''. Anacronyms (note well ''-acro-'') should not be homophonously confused with anachronyms (note well ''-chron-''), which are a type of misnomer.


Small-caps variant

Small caps In typography, small caps (short for "small capitals") are grapheme, characters typeset with glyphs that resemble letter case, uppercase letters (capitals) but reduced in height and weight close to the surrounding letter case, lowercase letters ...
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 ''The Atlantic'' is an American magazine and multi-platform publisher. It features articles in the fields of politics, foreign affairs, business and the economy, culture and the arts, technology, and science. It was founded in 1857 in Boston, ...
'' and ''
USA Today ''USA Today'' (stylized in all uppercase) is an American daily middle-market newspaper and news broadcasting company. Founded by Al Neuharth on September 15, 1982, the newspaper operates from Gannett's corporate headquarters in Tysons, Virgini ...
'', is to use small caps for acronyms longer than three letters; thus "U.S." and " FDR" in normal caps, but "" in small caps. The acronyms " AD" and " BC" are often smallcapped as well, as in: "From ".


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", "
DNase Deoxyribonuclease (DNase, for short) refers to a group of glycoprotein endonucleases which are enzymes that catalyze the hydrolytic cleavage of phosphodiester linkages in the DNA backbone, thus degrading DNA. The role of the DNase enzyme in cell ...
". In some cases a derived acronym may also be expressed in mixed case. For example, "
messenger RNA In molecular biology, messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) is a single-stranded molecule of RNA that corresponds to the genetic sequence of a gene, and is read by a ribosome in the process of Protein biosynthesis, synthesizing a protein. mRNA is ...
" and "
transfer RNA Transfer RNA (abbreviated tRNA and formerly referred to as sRNA, for soluble RNA) is an adaptor molecule composed of RNA, typically 76 to 90 nucleotides in length (in eukaryotes), that serves as the physical link between the Messenger RNA, mRNA a ...
" 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, writing the pronounced acronyms "Nato" and "Aids" in mixed case, but the initialisms "USA" and "FBI" in all caps. For example, this is the style used in ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gu ...
'', and
BBC News BBC News is an operational Division (business), business division of the BBC, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs in the UK and around the world. The department is t ...
typically edits to this style (though its official style guide, dating from 2003, still recommends all-caps). The logic of this style is that the pronunciation is reflected graphically by the capitalization scheme. However, it conflicts with conventional English usage of first-letter upper-casing as a marker of proper names in many cases; e.g. ''AIDS'' stands for ''acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome'' which is not a proper name, while ''Aids'' is in the style of one. 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 UNICEF (), originally called the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund in full, now officially United Nations Children's Fund, is an agency of the United Nations responsible for providing Humanitarianism, humanitarian and Devel ...
" (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 word In linguistics, function words (also called functors) are words that have little Lexical (semiotics), lexical Meaning (linguistic), meaning or have ambiguous meaning and express grammar, grammatical relationships among other words within a Sentence ...
s (such as "and", "or", "of", or "to"), this is not always the case. Sometimes function words are included to make a pronounceable acronym, such as CORE (
Congress of Racial Equality The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is an African Americans, African-American civil rights organization in the United States that played a pivotal role for African Americans in the civil rights movement. Founded in 1942, its stated mission ...
). Sometimes the letters representing these words are written in lower case, such as in the cases of "TfL" ("
Transport for London Transport for London (TfL) is a local government body responsible for most of the transport network in London, United Kingdom. TfL has responsibility for multiple rail networks including the London Underground and Docklands Light Railway, a ...
") and ''LotR'' (''
The Lord of the Rings ''The Lord of the Rings'' is an epic high-fantasy novel by English author and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in Middle-earth, intended to be Earth at some time in the distant past, the story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 children's ...
''); this usually occurs when the acronym represents a multi-word proper noun. Numbers (both
cardinal Cardinal or The Cardinal may refer to: Animals * Cardinal (bird) or Cardinalidae, a family of North and South American birds **''Cardinalis'', genus of cardinal in the family Cardinalidae **''Cardinalis cardinalis'', or northern cardinal, the ...
and ordinal) in names are often represented by digits rather than initial letters, as in "4GL" (" fourth generation language") or "G77" ("
Group of 77 The Group of 77 (G77) at the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization whose stated purposes are to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nat ...
"). 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 The kelvin, symbol K, is the primary unit of temperature in the International System of Units (SI), used alongside its metric prefix, prefixed forms and the degree Celsius. It is named after the Belfast-born and University of Glasgow-based eng ...
", the SI unit for
temperature Temperature is a physical quantity that expresses quantitatively the perceptions of hotness and coldness. Temperature is measurement, measured with a thermometer. Thermometers are calibrated in various Conversion of units of temperature, temp ...
). Exceptions using initials for numbers include " TLA" ("three-letter acronym/abbreviation") and "GoF" ("
Gang of Four The Gang of Four () was a Maoist political faction composed of four Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials. They came to prominence during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) and were later charged with a series of treasonous crimes. The gang ...
"). Abbreviations using numbers for other purposes include repetitions, such as "
A2DP In order to use Bluetooth, a device must be compatible with the subset of Bluetooth ''profiles'' (often called services or functions) necessary to use the desired services. A Bluetooth profile is a specification regarding an aspect of Bluetooth-b ...
" ("Advanced Audio Distribution Profile"), " 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

Authors of
expository writing The rhetorical modes (also known as modes of discourse) are a long-standing attempt to broadly classify the major kinds of language-based communication, particularly writing and Speech, speaking, into Narrative, narration, description, Exposition ...
will sometimes capitalize or otherwise distinctively format the initials of the expansion for
pedagogical Pedagogy (), most commonly understood as the approach to teaching, is the theory and practice of learning, and how this process influences, and is influenced by, the social, political and Developmental psychology, psychological development of le ...
emphasis (for example, writing: "the onset of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)" or "the onset of congestive heart failure (CHF)"), but this conflicts with the convention of English orthography, which reserves capitals in the middle of sentences for proper nouns; and would be rendered as "the onset of congestive heart failure (CHF)" when following the
AMA Manual of Style ''AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors'' is the style guide of the American Medical Association. It is written by the editors of '' JAMA'' (''Journal of the American Medical Association'') and the JAMA Network journals and is m ...
.


Changes to (or wordplay 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 may be pronunciation-based, such as "BBQ" (''bee-bee-cue''), for "barbecue", or " K9" (''kay-nine'') for "canine". Pseudo-acronyms also frequently develop as "orphan initialisms"; an existing acronym is redefined as a non-acronymous name, severing its link to its previous meaning.What Does "BP" Stand For?
For example, the letters of the "
SAT The SAT ( ) is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States. Since its debut in 1926, its name and Test score, scoring have changed several times; originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, it was later calle ...
", a US college entrance test originally dubbed "Scholastic Aptitude Test", no longer officially stand for anything. The US-based abortion-rights organization "
NARAL NARAL Pro-Choice America, commonly known as simply NARAL ( ), is a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization in the United States that engages in lobbying, politics, political action, and advocacy efforts to oppose restrictions on abortion, to expand a ...
" is another example of this; in that case, the organization changed their name three times, with the long-form of the name always corresponding to the letters "NARAL", before eventually opting to simply be known by the short-form, without being connected to a long-form. This is common with companies that want to retain
brand recognition Brand awareness is the extent to which customers are able to recall or recognize a brand under different conditions. Brand awareness is one of two dimensions from brand knowledge, an associative network memory model. Brand awareness is a key consi ...
while moving away from an outdated image: American Telephone and Telegraph became
AT&T AT&T Inc. is an American multinational corporation, multinational telecommunications holding company headquartered at Whitacre Tower in Downtown Dallas, Texas. It is the world's List of largest companies by revenue, largest telecommunications ...
, "
Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) is an American fast food restaurant chain headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, that specializes in fried chicken. It is the world's second-largest restaurant chain (as measured by sales) after McDonald's, with 2 ...
" became "KFC" to de-emphasize the role of frying in the preparation of its signature dishes, and British Petroleum became BP. ''
Russia Today RT (formerly Russia Today or Rossiya Segodnya (russian: Россия Сегодня) is a Russian State media, state-controlled International broadcasting, international news television network funded by the Russian government. It operates p ...
'' has rebranded itself as ''RT''. American Movie Classics has simply rebranded itself as AMC. Genzyme Transgenics Corporation became GTC Biotherapeutics, Inc.;
The Learning Channel TLC is an American cable television Cable television is a system of delivering television broadcast programming, programming to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables, or in more recent systems, light ...
became TLC; and American District Telegraph became simply known as ADT. Pseudo-acronyms may have advantages in international markets: for example, some national affiliates of International Business Machines are legally incorporated with "IBM" in their names (for example, IBM Canada) to avoid translating the full name into local languages. Likewise,
UBS UBS Group AG is a multinational Investment banking, investment bank and financial services company founded and based in Switzerland. Co-headquartered in the cities of Zürich and Basel, it maintains a presence in all major financial centres ...
is the name of the merged
Union Bank of Switzerland Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) was a Swiss Investment banking, investment bank and financial services company located in Switzerland. The bank, which at the time was the second largest bank in Switzerland, merged with Swiss Bank Corporation in ...
and
Swiss Bank Corporation Swiss Bank Corporation was a Swiss Investment banking, investment bank and financial services company located in Switzerland. Prior to its merger, the bank was the third largest in Switzerland with over Swiss franc, CHF300 billion of assets ...
, and
HSBC HSBC Holdings plc is a British multinational corporation, multinational universal bank and financial services holding company. It is the largest bank in Europe by total assets ahead of BNP Paribas, with US$2.953 trillion as of December 2021. In ...
has replaced the long name Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. Some companies which have a name giving a clear indication of their place of origin will choose to use acronyms when expanding to foreign markets: for example,
Toronto-Dominion Bank Toronto-Dominion Bank (french: links=no, Banque Toronto-Dominion), doing business as TD Bank Group (french: links=no, Groupe Banque TD), is a Canadian multinational banking and financial services Financial services are the Service (economics ...
continues to operate under the full name in Canada, but its U.S. subsidiary is known as TD Bank, just as
Royal Bank of Canada Royal Bank of Canada (RBC; french: Banque royale du Canada) is a Canadian multinational Financial institution, financial services company and the Big Five (banks), largest bank in Canada by market capitalization. The bank serves over 17 mi ...
used its full name in Canada (a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises their authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in decision making. Constitutional monarchies dif ...
), but its now-defunct U.S. subsidiary was called RBC Bank. The India-based JSW Group of companies is another example of the original name (Jindal South West Group) being re-branded into a pseudo-acronym while expanding into other geographical areas in and outside of India.


Redundant acronyms and RAS syndrome

Rebranding can lead to redundant acronym syndrome, as when
Trustee Savings Bank A bank is a financial institution that accepts Deposit account, deposits from the public and creates a demand deposit while simultaneously making loans. Lending activities can be directly performed by the bank or indirectly through capital m ...
became TSB Bank, or when Railway Express Agency became REA Express. A few high-tech companies have taken the redundant acronym to the extreme: for example, ISM Information Systems Management Corp. and SHL Systemhouse Ltd. Examples in entertainment include 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 Royal Bank of Canada (RBC; french: Banque royale du Canada) is a Canadian multinational Financial institution, financial services company and the Big Five (banks), largest bank in Canada by market capitalization. The bank serves over 17 mi ...
's Canadian operations rebranded to RBC Royal Bank, or when
Bank of Montreal The Bank of Montreal (BMO; french: Banque de Montréal, link=no) is a Canadian multinational investment bank Investment is the dedication of money to purchase of an asset to attain an increase in value over a period of time. Investment r ...
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", " EAB bank", "
HIV The human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) are two species of ''Lentivirus'' (a subgroup of retrovirus) that infect humans. Over time, they cause AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in which progressive failure of the ...
virus", Microsoft's NT Technology, and the formerly redundant "
SAT The SAT ( ) is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States. Since its debut in 1926, its name and Test score, scoring have changed several times; originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, it was later calle ...
test", now simply "SAT Reasoning Test"). TNN (The Nashville/National Network) also renamed itself "The New TNN" for a brief interlude.


Redefined acronyms

In some cases, while the initials in an acronym may stay the same, for what those letters stand may change. Examples include the following: *
DVD The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital optical disc data storage format. It was invented and developed in 1995 and first released on November 1, 1996, in Japan. The medium can store any k ...
was originally an acronym for the unofficial term "digital video disc", but is now stated by the
DVD Forum The DVD Forum is an international organization composed of Computer hardware, hardware, software, media and production companies that use and develop the DVD and formerly HD DVD formats. It was initially known as the DVD Consortium when it was f ...
as standing for "Digital Versatile Disc" *
GAO Gao , or Gawgaw/Kawkaw, is a city in Mali Mali (; ), officially the Republic of Mali,, , ff, 𞤈𞤫𞤲𞥆𞤣𞤢𞥄𞤲𞤣𞤭 𞤃𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭, Renndaandi Maali, italics=no, ar, جمهورية مالي, Jumhūriyyāt Māl ...
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 Raid, RAID or Raids may refer to: Attack * Raid (military), a sudden attack behind the enemy's lines without the intention of holding ground * Corporate raid, a type of hostile takeover in business * Panty raid, a prankish raid by male college s ...
was originally an acronym for "Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks" but has since been redefined as "Redundant Array of Independent Disks" *The UICC was founded as the "International Union Against Cancer", and its initials originally came from the Romance-language versions of that name (such as French '). The English expansion of its name has since been changed to "Union for International Cancer Control" so that it would also correspond to the UICC acronym. * WWF was originally an acronym for "World Wildlife Fund", but now stands for "World Wide Fund for Nature" (although the organization's branches in the U.S. and Canada still use the original name)


Backronyms

A ''backronym'' (or ''bacronym'') is a
phrase In syntax and grammar, a phrase is a group of words or singular word acting as a grammatical unit. For instance, the English language, English expression "the very happy squirrel" is a noun phrase which contains the adjective phrase "very happy". ...
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 "box of organized knowledge". A classic real-world example of this is the name of the predecessor to the Apple Macintosh, the
Apple Lisa Lisa is a desktop computer developed by Apple, released on January 19, 1983. It is one of the first personal computers to present a graphical user interface (GUI) in a machine aimed at individual business users. Its development began in 19 ...
, which was said to refer to "Local Integrated Software Architecture", but was actually named after Steve Jobs's daughter, born in 1978. Backronyms are oftentimes used for comedic effect. An example of creating a backronym for comedic effect would be in naming a group or organization, the name "A.C.R.O.N.Y.M" stands for (among other things) "a clever regiment of nerdy young men".


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 A CAPTCHA ( , a contrived acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart") is a type of challenge–response authentication, challenge–response test used in computing to determine whether the user is h ...
'' and ''
ACT UP AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) is an international, grassroots political group working to end the AIDS pandemic. The group works to improve the lives of people with AIDS through direct action, medical research, treatment and advocacy, ...
''. 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 ''Fuck'' is an English-language expletive. It often refers to the act of sexual intercourse, but is also commonly used as an intensifier or to convey disdain. While its origin is obscure, it is usually considered to be first attested to arou ...
". The US Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (
DARPA The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a research and development agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military. Originally known as the Adv ...
) is known for developing contrived acronyms to name projects, including ''RESURRECT'', ''NIRVANA'', and ''DUDE''. In July 2010, ''
Wired ''Wired'' (stylized as ''WIRED'') is a monthly American magazine, published in print and online magazine, online editions, that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics. Owned by Condé Nast, it is headquar ...
'' 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", a reference to the
Batman Batman is a superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and debuted in Detective Comics 27, the 27th issue of the comic book ''Detective Comics'' on ...
and Robin comic-book superheroes. The short-form names of clinical trials and other scientific studies constitute a large class of acronyms that includes many contrived examples, as well as many with a partial rather than complete correspondence of letters to expansion components. These trials tend to have full names that are accurately descriptive of what the trial is about but are thus also too long to serve practically as
name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. The entity identified by a name is called its referent. A person ...
s within the syntax of a sentence, so a short name is also developed, which can serve as a syntactically useful handle and also provide at least a degree of
mnemonic A mnemonic ( ) device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembering) in the human memory for better understanding. Mnemonics make use of elaborative encoding, retrieval cues, and imagery ...
reminder as to the full name. Examples widely known in
medicine Medicine is the science and Praxis (process), practice of caring for a patient, managing the diagnosis, prognosis, Preventive medicine, prevention, therapy, treatment, Palliative care, palliation of their injury or disease, and Health promotion ...
include the ALLHAT trial (Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial) and the CHARM trial (Candesartan in Heart Failure: Assessment of Reduction in Mortality and Morbidity). The fact that
RAS syndrome RAS syndrome (where "RAS" stands for "redundant acronym syndrome", making the phrase "RAS syndrome" Autological word, homological) is the redundant use of one or more of the words that make up an acronym (or other initialism) in conjunction with ...
is often involved, as well as that the letters often don't entirely match, have sometimes been pointed out by annoyed researchers preoccupied by the idea that because the
archetypal The concept of an archetype (; ) appears in areas relating to behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English) is the range of Action (philosophy), actions and mannerisms made by individuals, organisms, systems or Artific ...
form of acronyms originated with one-to-one letter matching, there must be some impropriety in their ever deviating from that form. However, the raison d'être of clinical trial acronyms, as with gene and protein symbols, is simply to have a syntactically usable and easily recalled short name to complement the long name that is often syntactically unusable and not memorized. It is useful for the short name to give a reminder of the long name, which supports the reasonable censure of "cutesy" examples that provide little to no hint of it. But beyond that reasonably close correspondence, the short name's chief utility is in functioning cognitively as a
name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. The entity identified by a name is called its referent. A person ...
, rather than being a cryptic and forgettable string, albeit faithful to the matching of letters. However, other reasonable critiques have been (1) that it is irresponsible to mention trial acronyms without explaining them at least once by providing the long names somewhere in the document, and (2) that the proliferation of trial acronyms has resulted in ambiguity, such as 3 different trials all called ASPECT, which is another reason why failing to explain them somewhere in the document is irresponsible in scientific communication. At least one study has evaluated the citation impact and other traits of acronym-named trials compared with others, finding both good aspects (mnemonic help, name recall) and potential flaws ( connotatively driven
bias Bias is a disproportionate weight ''in favor of'' or ''against'' an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-minded, prejudicial, or unfair. Biases can be innate or learned. People may develop biases for or against an individual, a group ...
). Some acronyms are chosen deliberately to avoid a name considered undesirable: For example, ''
Verliebt in Berlin ''Verliebt in Berlin'' (German pun for ''In Love in/with Berlin''; abbreviation: ViB) is a Golden Rose The Golden Rose is a gold Decorative art, ornament, which popes of the Catholic Church have traditionally blessed annually. It is occasiona ...
'' (''ViB''), a German
telenovela A telenovela is a type of a television serial drama or soap opera produced primarily in Latin America. The word combines ''tele'' (for "television") and ''novela'' (meaning "novel"). Similar Drama (film and television), drama genres around the w ...
, was first intended to be ' (''All for Love''), but was changed to avoid the resultant acronym '' ANAL''. Likewise, the Computer Literacy and Internet Technology qualification is known as ''CLaIT'', 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"). 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 Git () is a distributed version control system: tracking changes in any set of files, usually used for coordinating work among programmer A computer programmer, sometimes referred to as a software developer, a software engineer, a pr ...
). The charity sports organization Team in Training is known as "TNT" and not "TIT". Technological Institute of Textile & Sciences, however, is still known as "TITS".
George Mason University George Mason University (George Mason, Mason, or GMU) is a Public university, public research university in Fairfax County, Virginia with an independent Fairfax, Virginia, City of Fairfax, Virginia postal address in the Washington metropolitan ...
was planning to name their law school the "Antonin Scalia School of Law" ( ASSOL) in honor of the late
Antonin Scalia Antonin Gregory Scalia (; March 11, 1936 – February 13, 2016) was an American jurist who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1986 until his death in 2016. He was described as the intellectua ...
, only to change it to the "Antonin Scalia Law School" later.


Macronyms/nested acronyms

A macronym, or nested acronym, is an acronym in which one or more letters stand for acronyms (or abbreviations) themselves. The word "macronym" is a
portmanteau A portmanteau word, or portmanteau (, ) is a Blend word, blend of wordsmacro-" and "acronym". Some examples of macronyms are: * XHR stands for "XML HTTP Request", in which "
XML Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language and file format for storing, transmitting, and reconstructing arbitrary data. It defines a set of rules for encoding electronic document, documents in a format that is both Human-readable med ...
" is "Extensible Markup Language", and
HTTP The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application layer protocol in the Internet protocol suite model for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. HTTP is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web, w ...
stands for "HyperText Transfer Protocol" * POWER stands for "Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC", in which "
RISC In computer engineering, a reduced instruction set computer (RISC) is a computer designed to simplify the individual instructions given to the computer to accomplish tasks. Compared to the instructions given to a complex instruction set comput ...
" stands for "Reduced Instruction Set Computing" *
VHDL The VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHDL) is a hardware description language (HDL) that can model the behavior and structure of Digital electronics, digital systems at multiple levels of abstraction, ranging from the system level down to ...
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 Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language and file format for storing, transmitting, and reconstructing arbitrary data. It defines a set of rules for encoding electronic document, documents in a format that is both Human-readable med ...
" stands for "Extensible Markup Language" * AIM stands for "AOL Instant Messenger", in which "
AOL AOL (stylized as Aol., formerly a company known as AOL Inc. and originally known as America Online) is an American web portal and online service provider based in New York City. It is a brand marketed by the current incarnation of Yahoo (2017 ...
" originally stood for "America Online" * HASP stood for "Houston Automatic Spooling Priority", but "
spooling In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , hardw ...
" itself was an acronym: "simultaneous peripheral operations on-line" * VORTAC stands for "VOR+TACAN", in which "VOR" is "
VHF omnidirectional range Very high frequency omnirange station (VOR) is a type of short-range radio navigation system for aircraft, enabling aircraft with a receiving unit to determine its position and stay on course by receiving radio signals transmitted by a network ...
" (where VHF = Very High Frequency radio) and "TAC" is short for TACAN, which stands for "Tactical Air Navigation" * Global Information Assurance Certification has a number of nested acronyms for its certifications, e.g. "GSEC" is an acronym for "GIAC Security Essentials" 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 ''New Scientist'' is a magazine A magazine is a periodical literature, periodical publication, generally published on a regular schedule (often weekly or monthly), containing a variety of content (media), content. They are generally financ ...
'', 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 " TIROS operational vertical sounder"; and TIROS is "Television infrared observational satellite". Fully expanded, "RARS" might thus become "Regional Advanced Television Infrared Observational Satellite Operational Vertical Sounder Retransmission Service", which would produce the much more unwieldy acronym "RATIOSOVSRS". Another example is VITAL, which expands to "
VHDL The VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHDL) is a hardware description language (HDL) that can model the behavior and structure of Digital electronics, digital systems at multiple levels of abstraction, ranging from the system level down to ...
Initiative Towards ASIC Libraries" (a total of 15 words when fully expanded). However, to say that "RARS" stands directly for that string of words, or can be interchanged with it in
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the study of how words and morphemes combine to form larger units such as phrases and sentence (linguistics), sentences. Central concerns of syntax include word order, grammatical relations, hierarchical sentence st ...
(in the same way that "CHF" can be usefully interchanged with "congestive heart failure"), is a prescriptive misapprehension rather than a linguistically accurate description; the true nature of such a term is closer to anacronymic than to being interchangeable like simpler acronyms are. The latter are fully reducible in an attempt to "spell everything out and avoid all abbreviations", but the former are irreducible in that respect; they can be
annotated An annotation is extra information associated with a particular point in a document A document is a writing, written, drawing, drawn, presented, or memorialized representation of thought, often the manifestation of nonfiction, non-fictiona ...
with parenthetical explanations, but they cannot be eliminated from speech or writing in any useful or practical way. Just as the words ''laser'' and ''radar'' function as words in
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the study of how words and morphemes combine to form larger units such as phrases and sentence (linguistics), sentences. Central concerns of syntax include word order, grammatical relations, hierarchical sentence st ...
and
cognition Cognition refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses all aspects of Intellect, intellectual functions and processes such as: perception, attentio ...
without a need to focus on their acronymic origins, terms such as "RARS" and " CHA2DS2–VASc score" are irreducible in
natural language In neuropsychology, linguistics, and philosophy of language, a natural language or ordinary language is any language that has linguistic evolution, evolved naturally in humans through use and repetition without conscious planning or premeditati ...
; if they are purged, the form of language that is left may conform to some imposed rule, but it cannot be described as remaining natural. Similarly,
protein Proteins are large biomolecules and macromolecules that comprise one or more long chains of amino acid residue (biochemistry), residues. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including Enzyme catalysis, catalysing metabo ...
and
gene In biology, the word gene (from , ; "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian inheritance#History, Mendelian units of heredity..." meaning ''generation'' or ''birth'' or ''gender'') can have several different meanin ...
nomenclature, which uses symbols extensively, includes such terms as the name of the NACHT protein domain, which reflects the symbols of some proteins that contain the domain – NAIP (NLR family apoptosis
inhibitor protein The inhibitor protein (IP) is situated in the mitochondrial A mitochondrion (; ) is an organelle found in the Cell (biology), cells of most Eukaryotes, such as animals, plants and Fungus, fungi. Mitochondria have a double lipid bilayer, mem ...
), C2TA (major histocompatibility complex class II transcription activator), HET-E (incompatibility locus protein from ''Podospora anserine''), and TP1 (telomerase-associated protein) – but is not syntactically reducible to them. The name is thus itself more symbol than acronym, and its expansion cannot replace it while preserving its function in natural syntax as a
name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. The entity identified by a name is called its referent. A person ...
within a
clause In language, a clause is a Constituent (linguistics), constituent that comprises a semantic predicand (expressed or not) and a semantic Predicate (grammar), predicate. A typical clause consists of a subject (grammar), subject and a syntactic Pred ...
clearly parsable by human readers or listeners.


Recursive acronyms

A special type of macronym, the
recursive acronym A recursive acronym is an acronym that recursion, refers to itself, and appears most frequently in computer programming. The term was first used in print in 1979 in Douglas Hofstadter's book ''Gödel, Escher, Bach, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eterna ...
, 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 PHP is a general-purpose scripting language geared toward web development. It was originally created by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1993 and released in 1995. The PHP reference implementation is now produced by The PHP Gr ...
stands for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor" *
WINE Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from Fermentation in winemaking, fermented grapes. Yeast in winemaking, Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide, releasing heat in the process. Different ...
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 In a written language, a logogram, logograph, or lexigraph is a written character that represents a word or morpheme. Chinese characters (pronounced ''hanzi'' in Mandarin, ''kanji'' in Japanese, ''hanja'' in Korean) are generally logograms, as ...
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" (/, literally "great learning") is usually abbreviated simply as ("great") when used with the name of the institute. So "
Peking University Peking University (PKU; ) is a Public university, public research university in Beijing, China. The university is funded by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, Ministry of Education. Peking University was established as ...
" () is commonly shortened to ( "north-great") by also only taking the first character of ''Peking'', the "northern capital" (). In some cases, however, other characters than the first can be selected. For example, the local short form of " Hong Kong University" () uses "Kong" () 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 The Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), officially the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, is a committee consisting of the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party The Chinese ...
(PSC), is "Standing Committee of the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China" (). 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 "". Alternatively, it omitted the "Communist Party" part altogether, creating "Politburo Standing Committee" (), and eventually just "Standing Committee" (). The PSC's members full designations are "Member of the Standing Committee of the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China" (); this was eventually drastically reduced to simply ''Changwei'' (), with the term ''Ruchang'' () used increasingly for officials destined for a future seat on the PSC. In another example, the word "" (
National People's Congress The National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China (NPC; ), or simply the National People's Congress, is constitutionally the supreme state authority and the legislature, national legislature of the People's Republic of Chi ...
) can be broken into four parts: "" = "the whole nation", "" = "people", "" = "representatives", "" = "conference". Yet, in its short form "" (literally "man/people big"), only the first characters from the second and the fourth parts are selected; the first part ("") and the third part ("") are simply ignored. In describing such abbreviations, the term ''initialism'' is inapplicable. Many proper nouns become shorter and shorter over time. For example, the
CCTV New Year's Gala The ''CCTV New Year's Gala'', also known as the ''Spring Festival Gala'', and commonly abbreviated in Chinese as ''Chunwan'', is a Chinese New Year special produced by China Media Group (CMG). It is broadcast annually on the eve of Chinese Ne ...
, whose full name is literally read as "China Central Television Spring Festival Joint Celebration Evening Gala" () was first shortened to "Spring Festival Joint Celebration Evening Gala" (), but eventually referred to as simply ''Chunwan'' (). Along the same vein, CCTV or ''Zhongguo Zhongyang Dianshi Tai'' () was reduced to ''Yangshi'' () in the mid-2000s.


Korean

Many aspects of academics in Korea follow similar acronym patterns as Chinese, owing to the two languages' commonalities, like using the word for "big" or "great" i.e. ''dae'' (), to refer to universities (; ''daehak'', literally "great learning" although "big school" is an acceptable alternate). They can be interpreted similarly to American university appellations such as, "UPenn" or "Texas Tech." Some acronyms are shortened forms of the school's name, like how
Hongik University Hongik University (, colloquially ''Hongdae'') is a private university in Seoul, South Korea. Founded by an activist in 1946, the university is located in Mapo-gu district of central Seoul, South Korea with a second campus(branch campus) in S ...
(, ''Hongik Daehakgyo'') is shortened to ''Hongdae'' (, "Hong, the big chool or "Hong-U") Other acronyms can refer to the university's main subject, e.g. Korea National University of Education (, ''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 (, ''Hanguk Gwahak Gisulwon'') is referred to as KAIST (, ''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 (Seoul National, Korea, and Yonsei Universities). In addition, the College Scholastic Ability Test (, ''Daehak Suhang Neungryeok Siheom'') is shortened to ''Suneung'' (, "S.A.").


Japanese

The
Japanese language is spoken natively by about 128 million people, primarily by Japanese people and primarily in Japan, the only country where it is the national language. Japanese belongs to the Japonic languages, Japonic or Japanese-Ryukyuan languages, Ryukyu ...
makes extensive use of abbreviations, but only some of these are acronyms. Chinese-based words (
Sino-Japanese vocabulary Sino-Japanese vocabulary, also known as refers to Japanese vocabulary that had originated in Chinese language, Chinese or were created from elements borrowed from Chinese. Some grammatical structures and sentence patterns can also be identified as ...
) uses similar acronym formation to Chinese, like for . In some cases alternative pronunciations are used, as in Saikyō for 埼京, from , rather than Saitō. Non-Chinese foreign borrowings (
gairaigo is Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the w ...
) are instead frequently abbreviated as
clipped compound ''Clipped'' is a video featuring five tracks by the Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smal ...
s, rather than acronyms, using several initial sounds. This is visible in
katakana is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji and in some cases the Latin script (known as rōmaji). The word ''katakana'' means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana characters are derived fro ...
transcriptions of foreign words, but is also found with native words (written in
hiragana is a Japanese language, Japanese syllabary, part of the Japanese writing system, along with ''katakana'' as well as ''kanji''. It is a phonetic lettering system. The word ''hiragana'' literally means "flowing" or "simple" kana ("simple" ori ...
). For example, the '' Pokémon'' media franchise's name originally stood for "pocket monsters" ( o-ke-tto-mon-su-tā→ ), which is still the long-form of the name in Japanese, and " wāpuro" stands for "
word processor A word processor (WP) is a device or computer program that provides for input, editing, formatting, and output of text, often with some additional features. Early word processors were stand-alone devices dedicated to the function, but current ...
" ( ā-do-pu-ro-se-ssā ).


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 The (), Syllabic abbreviation, abbreviated Gestapo (; ), was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and in German-occupied Europe. The force was created by Hermann Göring in 1933 by combining the various political police agencies of F ...
'' rather than ''GSP'' (for ', 'Secret State Police'); ' rather than ''FAK'' (for ',
anti-aircraft Anti-aircraft warfare, counter-air or air defence forces is the battlespace response to aerial warfare, defined by NATO as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action".AAP-6 It includes Surface-to-air m ...
gun); ' rather than ''KP'' (for ', detective division police). The extension of such contraction to a pervasive or whimsical degree has been mockingly labeled ' (for ', strange habit of abbreviating). Examples of include ' (for ', short in the front, long in the back, i.e., a mullet) and the mocking of
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was dictator of Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populo ...
's title as ' (', "Greatest General of all Times").


Hebrew

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 Gershayim (Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-su ...
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): (for , the United States); (for , the Soviet Union); (for ,
Rishon LeZion Rishon LeZion ( he, רִאשׁוֹן לְצִיּוֹן , ''lit.'' First to Zion, Arabic: راشون لتسيون) is a city in Israel, located along the central Israeli Coastal Plain, Israeli coastal plain south of Tel Aviv. It is part of the G ...
); (for , the school). An example that takes only the initial letters from its component words is (''Tzahal'', for ,
Israel Defense Forces The Israel Defense Forces (IDF; he, צְבָא הַהֲגָנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל , ), alternatively referred to by the Hebrew-language acronym (), is the national military of the Israel, State of Israel. It consists of three servic ...
). In inflected forms the abbreviation sign
gershayim Gershayim (Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-su ...
remains between the second-last and last letters of the non-inflected form of the acronym (e.g. "report", singular: , plural: ; "squad commander", masculine: , feminine: ).


Indonesian

There is also a widespread use of acronyms in
Indonesia Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of over List of islands of Indonesia, 17,000 islands, including Sumatr ...
in every aspect of social life. For example, the ''
Golkar The Party of Functional Groups ( id, Partai Golongan Karya), often known by its abbreviation Golkar, is a political party in Indonesia. It was founded as the Joint Secretariat of Functional Groups ( id, Sekretariat Bersama Golongan Karya, links=no, ...
'' political party stands for "Partai Golongan Karya", '' Monas'' stands for "Monumen Nasional" (National Monument), the ''Angkot'' public transport stands for "Angkutan Kota" ( city public transportation), ''warnet'' stands for "warung internet" (
internet cafe The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consists ...
), and many others. Some acronyms are considered formal (or officially adopted), while many more are considered informal,
slang Slang is vocabulary (words, phrases, and usage (language), linguistic usages) of an informal register, common in spoken conversation but avoided in formal writing. It also sometimes refers to the language generally exclusive to the members of p ...
or
colloquial Colloquialism (), also called colloquial language, everyday language or general parlance, is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom norm ...
. The capital's metropolitan area (
Jakarta Jakarta (; , bew, Jakarte), officially the Special Capital Region of Jakarta ( id, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta) is the capital city, capital and list of Indonesian cities by population, largest city of Indonesia. Lying on the northwest coa ...
and its surrounding satellite regions), ''
Jabodetabek The Jakarta metropolitan area or Greater Jakarta, known locally as Jabodetabek (an acronym of Jakarta–Bogor–Depok–Tangerang–Bekasi), and sometimes extended to Jabodetabekjur (with the acronym extended to include part of Cianjur Regency) ...
'', is another infamous acronym. This stands for "Jakarta-Bogor-Depok-Tangerang-Bekasi". Many highways are also named by the acronym method; e.g. ''Jalan Tol'' (Toll Road) ''Jagorawi'' (Jakarta-Bogor-Ciawi) and ''Purbaleunyi'' (Purwakarta-Bandung-Cileunyi), Joglo Semar (Jogja-Solo-Semarang). In some languages, especially those that use certain
alphabets An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letter (alphabet), letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language in this way; in a syllabary, each character ...
, many acronyms come from the governmental use, particularly in the military and law enforcement services. The
Indonesian military , founded = as the ('People's Security Forces') , current_form = , disbanded = , branches = , headquarters = Cilangkap, Jakarta Jakarta (; , bew, Jakarte), officially the Special Capita ...
(TNI – ''Tentara Nasional Indonesia'') and
Indonesian police '' , mottotranslated = (Serving the Nation) , formed = , preceding1 = , dissolved = , superseding = , employees = 440,000 (2020) , volunteers = , budget = , nongovernment ...
(POLRI – ''Kepolisian Republik Indonesia'') are infamous for heavy acronyms use. Examples include the ''
Kopassus The Kopassus ( id, Komando Pasukan Khusus, Special Forces Command) is an Indonesian Army (TNI-AD) special forces group that conducts special operations missions for the Indonesian government, such as Direct action (military), direct action, unc ...
'' (''Komando Pasukan Khusus'';
Special Forces Special forces and special operations forces (SOF) are military units trained to conduct special operations. NATO has defined special operations as "military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, selected, trained and equip ...
Command), '' Kopaska'' (''Komando Pasukan Katak'';
Frogmen A frogman is someone who is trained in scuba diving or human swimming, swimming underwater in a tactical capacity that includes military, and in some European countries, police work. Such personnel are also known by the more formal names of co ...
Command), ''Kodim'' (''Komando Distrik Militer''; Military District Command – one of the Indonesian army's
administrative divisions Administrative division, administrative unit,Article 3(1). country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, constituent state, as well as many similar terms, are generic names for geographical areas into which a particular, ind ...
), ''Serka'' (''Sersan Kepala''; Head
Sergeant Sergeant ( abbreviated to Sgt. and capitalized when used as a named person's title) is a rank in many uniformed organizations, principally military and policing forces. The alternative spelling, ''serjeant'', is used in The Rifles and other u ...
), ''Akmil'' (''Akademi Militer''; Military Academy – in
Magelang Magelang () is one of six cities in Central Java that are administratively independent of the regencies in which they lie geographically. Each of these cities is governed by a mayor rather than a Subdivisions of Indonesia#Regency and City, ''bu ...
) and many other terms regarding ranks, units, divisions, procedures, etc.


Malay

Although not as common as in Indonesian, a number of Malay words are formed by merging two words, such as ''tadika'' from "taman didikan kanak-kanak" (kindergarten) and ''pawagam'' from "panggung wayang gambar." This, however, has been less prevalent in the modern era, in contrary to Indonesian. It is still often for names such as organisation names, among the most famous being MARA from Majlis Amanah Rakyat (People's Trust Council,) a government agency in Malaysia. Some acronyms are developed from the Jawi (Malay in Arabic script) spelling of the name and may not reflect its Latin counterpart such as PAS from Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (Malaysian Islamic Party) which originated from the Jawi acronym ڤاس from ڤرتي إسلام سمليسيا, with the same pronunciation, since the first letter of the word "Islam" in Jawi uses the letter
Aleph Aleph (or alef or alif, transliterated ʾ) is the first letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician , Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic ...
, which is pronounced like the letter A when in such position as in the acronym. Rules in writing initialisms in Malay differ based on its script. In its Latin form, the initialism would be spelt much like in English, using capitals written without any spacing, such as TNB for Tenaga Nasional Berhad. In Jawi, however, the way initialisms are different depending on the source language. For Malay initialisms, the initial Jawi letters would be written separated by a period such as د.ب.ڤ for ديوان بهاس دان ڤوستاک. If the initialism is from a different language, however, it would be written by transliterating each letter from the original language, such as عيم.سي.عيم.سي. for MCMC, or الفا.ڤي.ثيتا for Α.Π.Θ.


Russian

Acronyms that use parts of words (not necessarily syllables) are commonplace in Russian as well, e.g. (
Gazprom PJSC Gazprom ( rus, Газпром, , ɡɐzˈprom) is a Russian State-owned enterprise, majority state-owned multinational Energy industry, energy corporation headquartered in the Lakhta Center in Saint Petersburg. As of 2019, with sales over $1 ...
), for (', "gas industry"). There are also initialisms, such as СМИ (''SMI'', for ', "means of mass informing", i.e. ГУЛаг (
GULag The Gulag, an acronym for , , "chief administration of the camps". The original name given to the system of camps controlled by the State Political Directorate, GPU was the Main Administration of Corrective Labor Camps (, )., name=, group= ...
) combines two initials and three letters of the final word: it stands for (', "Chief Administration of Camps"). Historically, " OTMA" was an acronym sometimes used by the daughters of
Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife (empress consort), ...
Nicholas II of Russia Nicholas II or Nikolai II Alexandrovich Romanov; spelled in Reforms of Russian orthography, pre-revolutionary script. ( 186817 July 1918), known in the Russian Orthodox Church as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer,. was the last Emperor of ...
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 ' (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.


Vietnamese

In Vietnamese, which has an abundance of compound words, initialisms are very commonly used for both proper and common nouns. Examples include '' TP.HCM'' (',
Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City ( vi, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh; Vietnamese dialects, Northern , Southern Vietnamese, Southern ), formerly (and still commonly) known as Saigon ( vi, ; Vietnamese dialects, Northern , Southern Vietnamese, Southern ), is the larg ...
), '' THPT'' (', high school), '' CLB'' (', club), '' CSDL'' (', database), '' NXB'' (', publisher), '' ÔBACE'' (', a general form of address), and '' CTTĐVN'' (', Vietnamese Martyrs). Longer examples include '' CHXHCNVN'' (',
Socialist Republic of Vietnam Vietnam or Viet Nam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,., group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia, at the eastern edge of mainland Southeast Asia, with an area of and population of 96 million, making it ...
) and '' MTDTGPMNVN'' ('''',
Viet Cong The Viet Cong, ; contraction of (Vietnamese communist) was an armed Communism, communist organization in South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It fought under the direction of North Vietnam against the South Vietnamese and United States governments ...
). Long initialisms have become widespread in legal contexts in
Vietnam Vietnam or Viet Nam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,., group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia, at the eastern edge of mainland Southeast Asia, with an area of and population of 96 million, making it ...
, for example . It is also common for a writer to coin an ad hoc initialism for repeated use in an article. Each letter in an initialism corresponds to one
morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful Constituent (linguistics), constituent of a linguistic expression. The field of linguistics, linguistic study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology (linguistics), morphology. In English, morphemes are ...
, that is, one syllable. When the first letter of a syllable has a tone mark or other diacritic, the diacritic may be omitted from the initialism, for example ''ĐNA'' or ''ĐNÁ'' for ' (
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia, South-eastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, south-eastern region of Asia, consistin ...
) and ''LMCA'' or ''LMCÂ'' for ''Liên minh châu Âu'' (
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...
). The letter " Ư" is often replaced by "W" in initialisms to avoid confusion with "U", for example ''UBTWMTTQVN'' or ''UBTƯMTTQVN'' for ''Ủy ban Trung ương Mặt trận Tổ quốc Việt Nam'' (Central Committee of the
Vietnamese Fatherland Front The Vietnamese Fatherland Front ( vi, Mặt trận Tổ quốc Việt Nam) is an umbrella group of mass movements in Vietnam aligned with the Communist Party of Vietnam forming the Vietnamese government. It was founded in February 1977 by the m ...
). Initialisms are purely a written convenience, being pronounced the same way as their expansions. As the names of many Vietnamese letters are disyllabic, it would be less convenient to pronounce an initialism by its individual letters. Acronyms pronounced as words are rare in Vietnamese, occurring when an acronym itself is borrowed from another language. Examples include ' (), a respelling of the French acronym ''SIDA'' (
AIDS Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a retrovirus. Following initial infection an individual ma ...
); ' (), a literal reading of the English initialism for
Voice of America Voice of America (VOA or VoA) is the State media, state-owned news network and International broadcasting, international radio broadcaster of the United States, United States of America. It is the largest and oldest U.S.-funded international br ...
; and ''
NASA The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA ) is an independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the US federal government responsible for the civil List of government space agencies, space program ...
'' (), borrowed directly from the English acronym. As in Chinese, many compound words can be shortened to the first syllable when forming a longer word. For example, the term Việt Cộng is derived from the first syllables of "Việt Nam" (Vietnam) and "Cộng sản" (communist). This mechanism is limited to
Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary ( vi, từ Hán Việt, Chữ Hán: 詞漢越, literally 'Chinese language, Chinese-Vietnamese words') is a layer of some 3,000 monosyllabic Morpheme, morphemes of the Vietnamese language borrowed from Literary Chinese wi ...
. Unlike with Chinese, such
clipped compound ''Clipped'' is a video featuring five tracks by the Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smal ...
s are considered to be
portmanteau A portmanteau word, or portmanteau (, ) is a Blend word, blend of wordsblend word In linguistics, a blend (sometimes called blend word, lexical blend, portmanteau or portmanteau word) is a word formed from parts of two or more other words. At least one of these parts is not a morph (the realization of a morpheme) but instead ...
s rather than acronyms or initialisms, because the
Vietnamese alphabet The Vietnamese alphabet ( vi, chữ Quốc ngữ, lit=script of the National language) is the modern Latin writing script or writing system for Vietnamese. It uses the Latin script The Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabe ...
still requires each component word to be written as more than one character.


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 – "into Nato", ''Nasalta'' "from
NASA The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA ) is an independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the US federal government responsible for the civil List of government space agencies, space program ...
" *An acronym is pronounced as letters: EU – "into EU" *An acronym is interpreted as words: EU – "into EU" The process above is similar to the way that hyphens are used for clarity in English when prefixes are added to acronyms: thus ''pre-NATO policy'' (rather than ''preNATO'').


Lenition

In languages such as
Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig ), also known as Scots Gaelic and Gaelic, is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family) native to the Gaels of Scotland. As a Goid ...
and Irish, where
lenition In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and ...
(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 often added after the initial consonant; for example, ''
BBC Scotland BBC Scotland (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig ), also known as Scots Gaelic and Gaelic, is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family) native ...
'' in the genitive case would be written as , with the acronym pronounced ''VBC''. Likewise, the Gaelic acronym for 'television' is , pronounced ''TV'', as in English.


See also

* * Acronyms in the Philippines *
Acrostic An acrostic is a poetry, poem or other word composition in which the ''first'' letter (or syllable, or word) of each new line (or paragraph, or other recurring feature in the text) spells out a word, message or the alphabet. The term comes from ...
* * List of astronomy acronyms * * * Lists of abbreviations * List of abbreviations in photography * Lists of acronyms * List of fictional espionage organizations * List of Japanese Latin alphabetic abbreviations * *


Explanatory notes


References


External links

* {{Authority control * Types of words