Acronym

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

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

Nomenclature

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

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

The distinction is not well-maintained. According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage:[2] "A number of commentators ... believe that acronyms can be differentiated from other abbreviations in being pronounceable as words. Dictionaries, however, do not make this distinction because writers in general do not. ... Initialism, an older word than acronym, seems to be too little known to the general public to serve as the customary term standing in contrast with acronym in a narrow sense." About the use of acronym to only mean those pronounced as words, Fowler's Modern English Usage (3rd ed.) states:[25] "The limitations of the term being not widely known to the general public, acronym is also often applied to abbreviations that are familiar but are not pronounceable as words. ... Such terms are also called initialisms."

A clearer distinction has also been drawn by Pyles & Algeo (1970),[2] who divided acronyms as a general category into word acronyms pronounced as words, and initialisms sounded out as letters.

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

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

Comparing a few examples of each type

  • Pronounced as a word, containing only initial letters
    • NATO: "North Atlantic Treaty Organization"
    • Scuba: "self-contained underwater breathing apparatus"
    • Laser: "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: "alpha-methyl-phenethylamine"
    • Gestapo: Geheime Staatspolizei (secret state police)
    • Radar: "radio detection and ranging"
  • Pronounced as a string of letters, containing syllable-initial but not necessarily word-initial letters
    • PMN: "polymorphonuclear leukocytes"
    • OCA: "oculocutaneous albinism"
    • PCM: "paracoccidioidomycosis"
  • Pronounced as a word or as a string of letters, depending on speaker or context
    • FAQ: (/fæk/ or ef-a-cue) "frequently asked questions"
    • IRA: When used for "individual retirement account", can be pronounced as letters (i-ar-a) or as a word /ˈaɪrə/
    • SQL: (/ˈsiːkwəl/ or ess-cue-el) "structured query language"
  • Pronounced as a combination of spelling out and a word
    • CD-ROM: (cee-dee-/rɒm/) "compact disc read-only memory"
    • IUPAC: (i-u-/pæk/ or i-u-pee-a-cee) "International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry"
    • JPEG: (jay-/pɛɡ/ or jay-pee-e-gee) "Joint Photographic Experts Group"
    • SFMOMA: (ess-ef-/ˈmoʊmə/ or ess-ef-em-o-em-a) "San Francisco Museum of Modern Art"
  • Pronounced only as a string of letters
    • BBC: "British Broadcasting Corporation"
    • OEM: "original equipment manufacturer"
    • USA: "United States of America"
  • Pronounced as a string of letters, but with a shortcut
  • Shortcut incorporated into name
    • 3M: (three M) originally "Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company"
    • (ISC)²: (ISC squared) "International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium"[26]
    • W3C: (W-three C) "World Wide Web Consortium"
    • C4ISTAR: (C-four Istar) "Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance"[27]
    • E3: (E-three) "Electronic Entertainment Expo"
  • Multi-layered acronyms
    • AIM: "AOL Instant Messenger", in which "AOL" originally stood for "America Online"
    • NAC Breda: (Dutch football club) "NOAD ADVENDO Combinatie" ("NOAD ADVENDO Combination"), formed by the 1912 merger of two clubs from Breda:
      • NOAD: (Nooit Opgeven Altijd Doorgaan "Never give up, always persevere")
      • ADVENDO: (Aangenaam Door Vermaak En Nuttig Door Ontspanning "Pleasant by entertainment and useful by relaxation")[28][29]
    • GAIM: "GTK+ AOL Instant Messenger" (former name of Pidgin)
    • GIMP: "GNU image manipulation program"
    • VHDL: "VHSIC hardware description language", where "VHSIC" stands for "very high speed integrated circuit" (a U.S. government program)
  • Recursive acronyms, in which the abbreviation refers to itself
    • GNU: "GNU's not Unix!"
    • Wine: "Wine is not an emulator" (originally, "Windows emulator")
    • These may go through multiple layers before the self-reference is found:
      • HURD: "HIRD of Unix-replacing daemons", where "HIRD" stands for "HURD of interfaces representing depth"
  • Pseudo-acronyms, which consist of a sequence of characters that, when pronounced as intended, invoke other, longer words with less typing[30] This makes them gramograms.
    • BBQ: bee-bee-cue, for "barbecue"
    • 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 virus: "human immunodeficiency virus" (virus)
    • LCD display: "liquid-crystal display" (display)
    • PIN number: "personal identification number" (number)
  • Pronounced as a word, containing letters as a word in itself
    • PAYGO: "pay-as-you-go"

Historical and current use

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

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

  • Acronyms were used in Rome before the Christian era. For example, the official name for the Roman Empire, and the Republic before it, was abbreviated as SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus). Inscriptions dating from antiquity, both on stone and on coins, use 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 filius, 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 nomina sacra (sacred names) were used in many Greek biblical manuscripts. The common words "God" (Θεός), "Jesus" (Ιησούς), "Christ" (Χριστός), and some others, would be abbreviated by their first and last letters, marked with an overline. This was just one of many kinds of conventional scribal abbreviation, used to reduce the time-consuming workload of the scribe and save on valuable writing materials. The same convention is still commonly used in the inscriptions on religious icons and the stamps used to mark the eucharistic bread in Eastern Churches.
  • The early Christians in Rome, most of whom were Greek rather than Latin speakers, used the image of a fish as a symbol for Jesus in part because of an acronym—"fish" in Greek is ichthys (ΙΧΘΥΣ), which was said to stand for Ἰησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ Υἱός Σωτήρ (Iesous Christos Theou huios Soter: "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior"). This interpretation dates from the 2nd and 3rd centuries and is preserved in the catacombs of Rome. And for centuries, the Church has used the inscription INRI over the crucifix, which stands for the Latin Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum ("Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews").
  • The Hebrew language has a long history of formation of acronyms pronounced as words, stretching back many centuries. The Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament") is known as "Tanakh", an acronym composed from the Hebrew initial letters of its three major sections: "Torah" (five books of Moses), "Nevi'im" (prophets), and "K'tuvim" (writings). Many rabbinical figures from the Middle Ages onward are referred to in rabbinical literature by their pronounced acronyms, such as Rambam and Rashi from the initial letters of their full Hebrew names: "Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon" and "Rabbi Shlomo Yitzkhaki".

During the mid- to late 19th century, an acronym-disseminating trend spread through the American and European business communities: abbreviating corporation names —such as on the sides of railroad cars (e.g., "Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad" → "RF&P"); on the sides of barrels and crates; and on ticker tape and in the small-print newspaper stock listings that got their data from it (e.g. American Telephone and Telegraph Company → AT&T). Some well-known commercial examples dating from the 1890s through 1920s include "Nabisco" ("National Biscuit Company"),[31] "Esso" (from "S.O.", from "Standard Oil"), and "Sunoco" ("Sun Oil Company").

Another driver for the adoption of acronyms was modern warfare, with its many highly technical terms. While there is no recorded use of military acronyms in documents dating from the American Civil War (acronyms such as "ANV" for "Army of Northern Virginia" post-date the war itself), they had become somewhat common in World War I and were very much a part even of the vernacular language of the soldiers during World War II,[32] who themselves were referred to as G.I.s.

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

By 1943, the term acronym had been used in English to recognize abbreviations (and contractions of phrases) that were pronounced as words.[31] (It was formed from the Greek words ἄκρος, akros, "topmost, extreme" and ὄνομα, onoma, "name.") For example, the army offense of being absent without official leave was abbreviated to "A.W.O.L." in reports, but when pronounced as a word (awol), it became an acronym.[33] While initial letters are commonly used to form an acronym, the original definition was "a word made from the initial letters or syllables of other words",[34] for example UNIVAC from UNIVersal Automatic Computer.[35]

In English, acronyms pronounced as words may be a 20th-century phenomenon. Linguist David Wilton in Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends claims that "forming words from acronyms is a distinctly twentieth- (and now twenty-first-) century phenomenon. There is only one known pre-twentieth-century [English] word with an acronymic origin and it was in vogue for only a short time in 1886. The word is colinderies or colinda, an acronym for the Colonial and Indian Exposition held in London in that year."[36][37] However, although acronymic words seem not to have been employed in general vocabulary before the 20th century (as Wilton points out), the concept of their formation is treated as effortlessly understood (and evidently not novel) in a Poe story of the 1830s, "How to Write a Blackwood Article", which includes the contrived acronym "P.R.E.T.T.Y.B.L.U.E.B.A.T.C.H.".

Early examples in English

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

  • A.M. (from Latin ante meridiem, "before noon") and P.M. (from Latin post meridiem, "after noon")
  • A.D. (from Latin Anno Domini, "in the year of our Lord"), whose complement in English, B.C. [Before Christ], is English-sourced
  • O.K., a term of disputed origin, dating back at least to the early 19th century, now used around the world

The earliest example of a word derived from an acronym listed by the OED is "abjud" (now "abjad"), formed from the original first four letters of the Arabic alphabet in the late 18th century.[38] Some acrostics predate this, however, such as the Restoration witticism arranging the names of some members of Charles II's Committee for Foreign Affairs to produce the "CABAL" ministry.[39]

Current use

Acronyms are used most often to abbreviate names of organizations and long or frequently referenced terms. The armed forces and government agencies frequently employ acronyms; some well-known examples from the United States are among the "alphabet agencies" (also jokingly referred to as "alphabet soup") created by Franklin D. Roosevelt (also of course known as "FDR") under the New Deal. Business and industry also are prolific coiners of acronyms. The rapid advance of science and technology in recent centuries seems to be an underlying force driving the usage, as new inventions and concepts with multiword names create a demand for shorter, more manageable names. One representative example, from the U.S. Navy, is "COMCRUDESPAC", which stands for "commander, cruisers destroyers Pacific"; it is also seen as "ComCruDesPac". "YABA-compatible" (where "YABA" stands for "yet another bloody acronym") is used to mean that a term's acronym can be pronounced but is not an offensive word, e.g. "When choosing a new name, be sure it is 'YABA-compatible'."[40]

Acronym use has been further popularized by text messaging on mobile phones with short message service (SMS), and instant messenger (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.[41] Some prescriptivists disdain texting acronyms and abbreviations as decreasing clarity, or as failure to use "pure" or "proper" English. Others point out that language change has happened for thousands of years, and argue that it should be embraced as inevitable, or as innovation that adapts the language to changing circumstances. In this view, the modern practice is just as legitimate as those in "proper" English of the current generation of speakers, such as the abbreviation of corporation names in places with limited writing space (e.g., ticker tape, newspaper column inches).

Aids to learning the expansion without leaving a document

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

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

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

Jargon

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

The medical literature has been struggling to control the proliferation of acronyms as their use has evolved from aiding communication to hindering it. This has become such a problem that it is even evaluated at the level of medical academies such as the American Academy of Dermatology. [42]

As mnemonics

Acronyms are often taught as mnemonic devices, for example in physics the colors of the visible spectrum are said to be "ROY G. BIV" ("red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet"). They are also used as mental checklists, for example in aviation: "GUMPS", which is "gas-undercarriage-mixture-propeller-seatbelts". Other examples of mnemonic acronyms are "CAN SLIM", and "PAVPANIC" as well as "PEMDAS".

Acronyms as legendary etymology

It is not uncommon for acronyms to be cited in a kind of false etymology, called a folk etymology, for a word. Such etymologies persist in popular culture but have no factual basis in historical linguistics, and are examples of language-related urban legends. For example, "cop" is commonly cited as being derived, it is presumed, from "constable on patrol",[43] and "posh" from "port outward, starboard home".[44] With some of these specious expansions, the "belief" that the etymology is acronymic has clearly been tongue-in-cheek among many citers, as with "gentlemen only, ladies forbidden" for "golf", although many other (more credulous) people have uncritically taken it for fact.[44][45] Taboo words in particular commonly have such false etymologies: "shit" from "ship/store high in transit"[36][46] or "special high-intensity training" and "fuck" from "for unlawful carnal knowledge", or "fornication under consent/command of the king".[46]

Orthographic styling

Punctuation

Showing the ellipsis of letters

In English, abbreviations have traditionally been written with a full stop/period/point in place of the deleted part to show the ellipsis of letters—although the colon and apostrophe have also had this role—and with a space after full stops (e.g. "A. D."). In the case of most acronyms, each letter is an abbreviation of a separate word and, in theory, should get its own termination mark. Such punctuation is diminishing with the belief that the presence of all-capital letters is sufficient to indicate that the word is an abbreviation.[47]

Some influential style guides, such as that of the BBC, no longer require punctuation to show ellipsis; some even proscribe it. Larry Trask, American author of The Penguin Guide to Punctuation, states categorically that, in British English, "this tiresome and unnecessary practice is now obsolete."[48]

Nevertheless, some influential style guides, 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".[49] The logic of this style is that the pronunciation is reflected graphically by the punctuation scheme.

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" (or the Latin postscriptum), it is often spelled with periods ("P.S.").

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

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

Representing plurals and possessives

There is a question about how to pluralize acronyms. Often a writer will add an 's' following an apostrophe, as in "PC's". However, Kate Turabian, writing about style in academic writings,[50] 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[51] and American Psychological Association[52][53] 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").[54]

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.[55][56]

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".[57][58] (or similar[59]), as used by former Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley.[60][61][62] 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".[63]

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 usage (for example, "the U.S. economy") or expanding the abbreviation to its full form and then making the possessive (for example, "the United States' economy"). On the other hand, in speech, the pronunciation "United States's" sometimes is used.

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

In some languages, the convention of doubling the letters in the acronym is used to indicate plural words: for example, the Spanish EE. UU., for Estados Unidos ('United States'). This old convention is still followed for a limited number of English abbreviations, such as SS. for "Saints", pp. for the Latin plural of "pages", paginae, or MSS for "manuscripts". In the case of pp. it derives from the original Latin phrase "per procurationem" meaning 'through the agency of';[64] an English translation alternative is particular pages in a book or document: see pp. 8–88.[65]

Case

All-caps style

The most common capitalization scheme seen with acronyms is all-uppercase (all-caps), except for those few that have linguistically taken on an identity as regular words, with the acronymous etymology of the words fading into the background of common knowledge, such as has occurred with the words "scuba", "laser", and "radar"—these are known as anacronyms.[66] Anacronyms (note well -acro-) should not be homophonously confused with anachronyms (note well -chron-), which are a type of misnomer.

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

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

Pronunciation-dependent style and case

Some publications choose to capitalize only the first letter of acronyms, reserving all-caps styling for initialisms, 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,[67] and BBC News typically edits to this style (though its official style guide, dating from 2003, still recommends all-caps[68]). The logic of this style is that the pronunciation is reflected graphically by the capitalization scheme.

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

Numerals and constituent words

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

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

Casing of expansions

Although many authors of expository writing show a predisposition to capitalizing the initials of the expansion for pedagogical emphasis (trying to thrust the reader's attention toward where the letters are coming from), this sometimes conflicts with the convention of English orthography, which reserves capitals in the middle of sentences for proper nouns. Enforcing the general convention, most professional editors case-fold such expansions to their standard orthography when editing manuscripts for publication. The justification is that (1) readers are smart enough to figure out where the letters came from, even without their being capitalized for emphasis, and that (2) common nouns do not take capital initials in standard English orthography. Such house styles also usually disfavor bold or italic font for the initial letters. For example, "the onset of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)" or "the onset of congestive heart failure (CHF)" if found in an unpublished manuscript would be rewritten as "the onset of congestive heart failure (CHF)" in the final published article when following the AMA Manual of Style.[69]

Changes to (or word play on) the expanded meaning

Pseudo-acronyms

Some apparent acronyms or other abbreviations do not stand for anything and cannot be expanded to some meaning. Such pseudo-acronyms 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.[70][71] For example, the letters of the "SAT", a US college entrance test originally dubbed "Scholastic Aptitude Test", no longer officially stand for anything.[72][73]

This is common with companies that want to retain brand recognition while moving away from an outdated image: American Telephone and Telegraph became AT&T,[70] "Kentucky Fried Chicken" became "KFC" to de-emphasize the role of frying in the preparation of its signature dishes,[74][a] and British Petroleum became BP.[71][75] Russia Today has rebranded itself as RT. American Movie Classics has simply rebranded itself as AMC. "Genzyme Transgenics Corporation" became "GTC Biotherapeutics, Inc." in order to reduce perceived corporate risk of sabotage/vandalism by Luddite activists. The Learning Channel became TLC following its move towards reality series involving lifestyles, family life, and personal stories.

Pseudo-acronyms may have advantages in international markets: for example, some national affiliates of International Business Machines are legally incorporated as "IBM" (for example, "IBM Canada") to avoid translating the full name into local languages. Likewise, "UBS" is the name of the merged Union Bank of Switzerland and Swiss Bank Corporation,[76] and "HSBC" has replaced "The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation." Sometimes, companies whose original name gives a clear indication of their place of origin will use acronyms when expanding to foreign markets—for example, Toronto-Dominion Bank 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 used its full name in Canada (a constitutional monarchy), but its now-defunct U.S. subsidiary was called "RBC Bank".

Redundant acronyms and RAS syndrome

Rebranding can lead to redundant acronym syndrome, as when Trustee Savings Bank became TSB Bank, or when Railway Express Agency became "REA Express". A few high-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's Canadian operations rebranded to RBC Royal Bank, or when Bank of Montreal rebranded their retail banking subsidiary BMO Bank of Montreal.

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

Simple redefining

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

  • DVD was originally an acronym of the unofficial term "digital video disc", but is now stated by the DVD Forum as standing for "Digital Versatile Disc"
  • GAO changed the full form of its name from "General Accounting Office" to "Government Accountability Office"
  • GPO (in the United States) changed the full form of its name from "Government Printing Office" to "Government Publishing Office"
  • RAID used to mean "Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks", but is now commonly interpreted as "Redundant Array of Independent Disks"
  • WWF originally stood for World Wildlife Fund, but now stands for Worldwide Fund for Nature (although the former name is still used in Canada and the United States)
  • The UICC, whose initials came from the Romance-language versions of its name (such as French Union Internationale Contre le Cancer, "International Union Against Cancer"), changed the English expansion of its name to "Union for International Cancer Control" (from "International Union Against Cancer") so that the English expansion, too, would correspond to the UICC initials

Backronyms

A backronym (or bacronym) is a phrase that is constructed "after the fact" from a previously existing word. For example, the novelist and critic Anthony Burgess once proposed that the word "book" ought to stand for "box of organized knowledge".[77] A classic real-world example of this is the name of the predecessor to the Apple Macintosh, The Apple Lisa, which was said to refer to "Local Integrated Software Architecture", but was actually named after Steve Jobs's daughter, born in 1978.

Backronyms are oftentimes used to 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 and ACT UP. The clothing company French Connection began referring to itself as fcuk, standing for "French Connection United Kingdom." The company then created T-shirts and several advertising campaigns that exploit the acronym's similarity to the taboo word "fuck".

The US Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is known for developing contrived acronyms to name projects, including RESURRECT, NIRVANA, and DUDE. In July 2010, Wired magazine reported that DARPA announced programs to "..transform biology from a descriptive to a predictive field of science" named BATMAN and ROBIN for "Biochronicity and Temporal Mechanisms Arising in Nature" and "Robustness of Biologically-Inspired Networks",[78] a reference to the Batman 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 names 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 reminder as to the full name. Examples widely known in medicine 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 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 form of acronyms originated with one-to-one letter matching, there must be some moral 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 recallable 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, 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,[79] 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.[79] At least one study has evaluated the citation impact and other traits of acronym-named trials compared with others,[80] finding both good aspects (mnemonic help, name recall) and potential flaws (connotatively driven bias).[80]

Some acronyms are chosen deliberately to avoid a name considered undesirable: For example, Verliebt in Berlin (ViB), a German telenovela, was first intended to be Alles nur aus Liebe (All for Love), but was changed to avoid the resultant acronym ANAL. Likewise, the Computer Literacy and Internet Technology qualification is known as CLaIT,[81] rather than CLIT. In Canada, the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance (Party) was quickly renamed to the "Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance" when its opponents pointed out that its initials spelled CCRAP (pronounced "see crap"). (The satirical magazine Frank had proposed alternatives to CCRAP, namely SSHIT and NSDAP.) Two Irish Institutes of Technology (Galway and Tralee) chose different acronyms from other institutes when they were upgraded from Regional Technical colleges. Tralee RTC became the Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT), as opposed to Tralee Institute of Technology (TIT). Galway RTC became Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), as opposed to Galway Institute of Technology (GIT). The charity sports organization Team in Training is known as "TNT" and not "TIT". Technological Institute of Textile & Sciences is still known as "TITS". George Mason University was planning to name their law school the "Antonin Scalia School of Law" (ASSOL) in honor of the late Antonin Scalia, only to change it to the "Antonin Scalia Law School" later.[82]

Macronyms/nested acronyms

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

Some examples of macronyms are:

  • XHR stands for "XML HTTP Request", in which "XML" is "Extensible Markup Language", and HTTP stands for "HyperText Transfer Protocol"
  • POWER stands for "Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC", in which "RISC" stands for "Reduced Instruction Set Computing"
  • VHDL stands for "VHSIC Hardware Description Language", in which "VHSIC" stands for "Very High Speed Integrated Circuit"
  • XSD stands for "XML Schema Definition", in which "XML" stands for "Extensible Markup Language"
  • AIM stands for "AOL Instant Messenger", in which "AOL" originally stood for "America Online"
  • HASP stood for "Houston Automatic Spooling Priority", but "spooling" itself was an acronym: "simultaneous peripheral operations on-line"

Some macronyms can be multiply nested: the second-order acronym points to another one further down a hierarchy. In an informal competition run by the magazine New Scientist, a fully documented specimen was discovered that may be the most deeply nested of all: RARS is the "Regional ATOVS Retransmission Service"; ATOVS is "Advanced TOVS"; TOVS is "TIROS operational vertical sounder"; and TIROS is "Television infrared observational satellite".[83] Fully expanded, "RARS" might thus become "Regional Advanced Television Infrared Observational Satellite Operational Vertical Sounder Retransmission Service". However, to say that "RARS" stands directly for that string of words, or can be interchanged with it in syntax (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 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 and cognition without a need to focus on their acronymic origins, terms such as "RARS" and "CHA2DS2–VASc score" are irreducible in natural language; 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 and gene 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), 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 within a clause clearly parsable by human readers or listeners.

Recursive acronyms

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

Some examples of recursive acronyms are:

  • GNU stands for "GNU's Not Unix!"
  • LAME stands for "LAME Ain't an MP3 Encoder"
  • PHP stands for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor"
  • WINE stands for "WINE Is Not an Emulator"
  • HURD stands for "HIRD of Unix-replacing daemons", where HIRD itself stands for "HURD of interfaces representing depth" (a "mutually recursive" acronym)

Non-English languages

Specific languages

Chinese

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

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

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

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

Korean

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

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

Japanese

The Japanese language makes extensive use of abbreviations, but only some of these are acronyms.

Chinese-based words (Sino-Japanese vocabulary) uses similar acronym formation to Chinese, like Tōdai (東大) for Tōkyō Daigaku (東京大学 Tokyo University). In some cases alternative pronunciations are used, as in Saikyō for 埼京, from Saitama + Tōkyo (埼玉+東京), rather than Sai.

Non-Chinese foreign borrowings (gairaigo) are instead frequently abbreviated as clipped compounds, rather than acronyms, using several initial sounds. This is visible in katakana transcriptions of foreign words, but is also found with native words (written in hiragana). For example, the Pokémon media franchise's name originally stood for "pocket monsters" (ポケット·モンスター [po-ke-tto-mon-su-tā] → ポケモン), which is still the long-form of the name in Japanese, and "wāpuro" stands for "word processor" (ワード·プロセッサー [wā-do-pu-ro-se-ssā]→ ワープロ).

German

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

Hebrew

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

Indonesian

There is also a widespread use of acronyms in Indonesia in every aspect of social life. For example, the Golkar political party stands for "Partai 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), and many others. Some acronyms are considered formal (or officially adopted), while many more are considered informal, slang or colloquial.

The capital's metropolitan area (Jakarta and its surrounding satellite regions), Jabodetabek, is another infamous acronym. This stands for "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, many acronyms come from the governmental use, particularly in the military and law enforcement services. The Indonesian military (TNI—Tentara Nasional Indonesia) and Indonesian police (POLRI—Kepolisian Republik Indonesia) are infamous for heavy acronyms use. Examples include the Kopassus (Komando Pasukan Khusus; Special Forces Command), Kopaska (Komando Pasukan Katak; Frogmen Command), Kodim (Komando Distrik Militer; Military District Command—one of the Indonesian army's administrative divisions), Serka (Sersan Kepala; Head Sergeant), Akmil (Akademi Militer; Military Academy—in Magelang) and many other terms regarding ranks, units, divisions, procedures, etc.

Russian

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

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

Swahili

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

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 (Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Ho Chi Minh City), THPT (trung học phổ thông, high school), CLB (câu lạc bộ, club), CSDL (cơ sở dữ liệu, database), NXB (nhà xuất bản, publisher), ÔBACE (ông bà anh chị em, a general form of address), and CTTĐVN (các Thánh tử đạo Việt Nam, Vietnamese Martyrs). Longer examples include CHXHCNVN (Cộng hòa Xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam, Socialist Republic of Vietnam) and MTDTGPMNVN (Mặt trận Dân tộc Giải phóng miền Nam Việt Nam, Viet Cong). Long initialisms have become widespread in legal contexts in Vietnam.[84] 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—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 Đông Nam Á (Southeast Asia) and LMCA or LMCÂ for Liên minh châu Âu (European Union). 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).

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 SIĐA (pronounced [s̪i˧ ˀɗaː˧]), a respelling of the French acronym SIDA (AIDS); VOA (pronounced [vwaː˧]), a literal reading of the English initialism for Voice of America; and NASA (pronounced [naː˧ zaː˧]), 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. Unlike with Chinese, such shortened words are considered portmanteau words or blend words rather than acronyms or initialisms, because the Vietnamese alphabet 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 [nato]Natoon [natoːn] "into Nato", Nasalta "from NASA"
  • An acronym is pronounced as letters: EU [eː uː]EU:hun [eː uːhun] "into EU"
  • An acronym is interpreted as words: EU [euroːpan unioni]EU:iin [euroːpan unioniːn] "into EU"

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

Lenition

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

Extremes

  • The longest acronym, according to the 1965 edition of Acronyms, Initialisms and Abbreviations Dictionary, is "ADCOMSUBORDCOMPHIBSPAC", a United States Navy term that stands for "Administrative Command, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet Subordinate Command". Another term "COMNAVSEACOMBATSYSENGSTA", which stands for "Commander, Naval Sea Systems Combat Engineering Station" is longer but the word "Combat" is not shortened.
  • The world's longest acronym, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is НИИОМТПЛАБОПАРМБЕТЖЕЛБЕТРАБСБОМОНИМОНКОНОТДТЕХСТРОМОНТ (NIIOMTPLABOPARMBETZHELBETRABSBOMONIMONKONOTDTEKHSTROMONT). However, this is more precisely a combination acronym/clipped compound, as multiple initial letters of some constituent words are used. The 56-letter term (54 in Cyrillic) is from the Concise Dictionary of Soviet Terminology and means "The laboratory for shuttering, reinforcement, concrete and ferroconcrete operations for composite-monolithic and monolithic constructions of the Department of the Technology of Building-assembly operations of the Scientific Research Institute of the Organization for building mechanization and technical aid of the Academy of Building and Architecture of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." (научно-исследовательская [...] лаборатория операций по армированию бетона и железобетонных работ по сооружению сборно-монолитных и монолитных конструкций отдела технологии строительно-монтажного управления)
  • The card-game Magic: The Gathering has a playing card called "Our Market Research Shows That Players Like Really Long Card Names So We Made this Card to Have the Absolute Longest Card Name Ever Elemental", with text on it saying: "Just call it OMRSTPLRLCNSWMTCTHTALCNEE for short."[85]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ This change was also applied to other languages, with Poulet Frit Kentucky becoming PFK in French Canada.

References

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

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

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

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

    acronyms  A number of commentators (as Copperud 1970, Janis 1984, Howard 1984) believe that acronyms can be differentiated from other abbreviations in being pronounceable as words. Dictionaries, however, do not make this distinction because writers in general do not:

    "The powder metallurgy industry has officially adopted the acronym 'P/M Parts'"—Precision Metal Molding, January 1966.
    "Users of the term acronym make no distinction between those pronounced as words ... and those pronounced as a series of characters" —Jean Praninskas, Trade Name Creation, 1968.
    "It is not J.C.B.'s fault that its name, let alone its acronym, is not a household word among European scholars"—Times Literary Supp. 5 February 1970.
    "... the confusion in the Pentagon about abbreviations and acronyms—words formed from the first letters of other words"—Bernard Weinraub, N.Y. Times, 11 December 1978.

    Pyles & Algeo 1970 divide acronyms into "initialisms", which consists of initial letters pronounced with the letter names, and "word acronyms", which are pronounced as words. Initialism, an older word than acronym, seems to be too little known to the general public to serve as the customary term standing in contrast with acronym in a narrow sense.

  3. ^ a b "acronym". The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1991), Oxford University Press. p. 12: "a word, usu[ally] pronounced as such, formed from the initial letters of other words (e.g. Ernie, laser, Nato)".
  4. ^ "acronym" "Cambridge Dictionary of American English", accessed October 5, 2008: "a word created from the first letters of each word in a series of words."
  5. ^ "acronym" "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language", accessed August 13, 2015: "1. A word formed by combining the initial letters of a multipart name, such as NATO from North Atlantic Treaty Organization or by combining the initial letters or parts of a series of words, such as radar from radio detecting and ranging. 2. Usage Problem An initialism. Usage Note: In strict usage, the term acronym refers to a word made from the initial letters or parts of other words, such as sonar from so(und) na(vigation and) r(anging). The distinguishing feature of an acronym is that it is pronounced as if it were a single word, in the manner of NATO and NASA. Acronyms are often distinguished from initialisms like FBI and NIH, whose individual letters are pronounced as separate syllables. While observing this distinction has some virtue in precision, it may be lost on many people, for whom the term acronym refers to both kinds of abbreviations."
  6. ^ "acronym" "Collins Dictionaries", accessed August 13, 2015: "a pronounceable name made up of a series of initial letters or parts of words; for example, UNESCO for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization"
  7. ^ "acronym" "Cambridge Dictionaries Online", accessed August 13, 2015: "an abbreviation consisting of the first letters of each word in the name of something, pronounced as a word: AIDS is an acronym for 'Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome'."
  8. ^ "acronym" "Cambridge Dictionaries Online", accessed August 13, 2015: "Acronyms are words which are formed from the first letters of other words, and which are pronounced as full words."
  9. ^ "acronym" "Wordsmyth, the Priemier Educational Dictionary-Thesaurus", accessed August 13, 2015: "a type of abbreviation used as a word, formed by combining the initial letters (or initial parts) of words that make up a particular string. The pronunciation of an acronym is based on the typical rules of pronouncing words in a language and is not made up of the sounds of the names of individual letters. NASA is an acronym for 'National Aeronautics and Space Administration.' The abbreviations 'FBI' and 'DVD' are not acronyms, but 'AIDS,' 'FICA,' and 'PIN' are."
  10. ^ "acronym" "NetLingo, the Internet Dictionary", accessed August 13, 2015: "Derived from the first letters of a phrase, acronyms are meant to make the phrase easier to say and remember. With an acronym, the first letter of each word makes up a new word that is, in fact, pronounceable (for example, SNAFU is pronounced "sna-foo" and WOMBAT is pronounced "wahm-bat")."
  11. ^ "acronym". Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing (2012). Stedman. "A pronounceable word formed from the initial letters of each word or selected words in a phrase (e.g., AIDS)".
  12. ^ "acronym" "AES Pro Audio Reference", accessed August 13, 2015: "A word formed from the first letters of a name, such as laser for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, or by combining initial letters or parts of a series of words, such as radar for radio detecting and ranging. The requirement of forming a word is what distinguishes an acronym from an abbreviation (or initialism as it is also called). Thus modem [modulator-demodulator] is an acronym, and AES [Audio Engineering Society] is an abbreviation or initialism."
  13. ^ "The Correct Use of Acronyms and Initialisms" "Scribendi Proofreading Services", accessed August 13, 2015: "An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a name or phrase. It is pronounced as if it were a word. Examples of common acronyms include "SARS" (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and "UNICEF" (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund)"
  14. ^ "The Difference Between an Acronym and an Initialism" "Today I Found Out", accessed August 13, 2015: "An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a name or phrase. It is pronounced as if it were a word. Examples of common acronyms include "SARS" (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and "UNICEF" (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund)"
  15. ^ a b Crystal, David (1995). "Abbreviation". The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-55985-5. p. 120: Under the heading "Types of Abbreviation", this article separately lists initialisms and acronyms, describing the latter as "Initialisms pronounced as single words", but adds, "However, some linguists do not recognize a sharp distinction between acronyms and initialisms, but use the former term for both."
  16. ^ "The 10 Most Misunderstood Terms in IT" "TechTarget", accessed August 13, 2015: "An acronym is not any abbreviation, just one that forms a "sayable" word. Apart from that confusion, acronyms and other abbreviations cause confusion any time a reader is likely not to know what the spelled-out version is."
  17. ^ "initialism" "Online Etymology Dictionary", accessed August 13, 2015: "initialism (n.) word formed from the first letters of other words or a phrase, 1957, from initial (n.) + -ism. The distinction from acronym is not universally agreed-upon; in general, words such as NATO, where the letters form a word, are regarded as acronyms, those such as FBI, where the letters sound as letters, are initialisms. The use of acronym in entries in this dictionary that are technically initialisms is a deliberate error, because many people only know to search for all such words under 'acronym.'"
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  21. ^ "acronym". Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (2003), Barnes & Noble. ISBN 0-7607-4975-2: "1. a word created from the first letter or letters of each word in a series of words or a phrase. 2. a set of initials representing a name, organization, or the like, with each letter pronounced separately, as FBI for Federal Bureau of Investigation."
  22. ^ "acronym". American Heritage Dictionary (5th ed.). 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2013. "Usage Note: ... Acronyms are often distinguished from initialisms like FBI and NIH, whose individual letters are pronounced as separate syllables. While observing this distinction has some virtue in precision, it may be lost on many people, for whom the term acronym refers to both kinds of abbreviations.
  23. ^ "acronym" Oxford English Dictionary. Ed. J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. OED Online Oxford University Press. Accessed May 2, 2006.
  24. ^ "Definition of CRT". www.merriam-webster.com.
  25. ^ Burchfield, R. W., ed. (2004) [1998]. Fowler's Modern English Usage (Third Revised ed.). Oxford University Press. "acronym", pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-0-19-861021-2. The limitations of the term being not widely known to the general public, acronym is also often applied to abbreviations that are familiar but are not pronounceable as words. Thus EC (European Community), FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), and VCR (videocassette recorder). Such terms are also called initialisms.
  26. ^ "(ISC)² providing CISSP security accreditation to Interpol computer crime units" (Press release). (ISC)². April 23, 2002. Archived from the original on March 18, 2016. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  27. ^ Robinson, Paul (2008). "C4ISR". Dictionary of international security. Polity. p. 31. ISBN 0-7456-4028-1.
  28. ^ "Nooit opgegeven, al 95 jaar doorgezet!" (in Dutch). NAC Breda. September 19, 2007. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Precies 95 jaar terug smolten NOAD (Nooit Opgeven Altijd Doorzetten) en Advendo (Aangenaam Door Vermaak en Nuttig Door Ontspanning) samen in de NOAD-ADVENDO Combinatie, kortom NAC.
  29. ^ Dart, James (December 14, 2005). "What is the longest team name in the world?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  30. ^ ""Acronyms (and other forms of abbreviation)," Department of Homeland Security, 12 Nov 2008".
  31. ^ a b B. Davenport American Notes and Queries (February 1943) vol 2 page 167 "Your correspondent who asks about words made up of the initial letters or syllables of other words may be interested in knowing that I have seen such words called by the name acronym, which is useful and clear to anyone who knows a little Greek."
  32. ^ "Baloney". www.etymonline.com.
  33. ^ S. V. Baum (1962) American Speech Vol. 37 No. 1, The Acronym, Pure and Impure
  34. ^ American Speech (1943) Vol. 18, No. 2, page 142
  35. ^ American Speech (1950) Vol. 25 No. 2 page 147
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  38. ^ "abjad, n.", Oxford English Dictionary.
  39. ^ "cabal, n.", Oxford English Dictionary.
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  52. ^ Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 5th Edition 2001, subsection 3.28
  53. ^ Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 6th Edition 2010, subsection 4.29
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External links

Abbreviation

An abbreviation (from Latin brevis, meaning short ) is a shortened form of a word or phrase. It consists of a group of letters taken from the word or phrase. For example, the word abbreviation can itself be represented by the abbreviation abbr., abbrv., or abbrev.

In strict analysis, abbreviations should not be confused with contractions, crasis, acronyms, or initialisms, with which they share some semantic and phonetic functions, though all four are connected by the term "abbreviation" in loose parlance.An abbreviation is a shortening by any method; a contraction is a reduction of size by the drawing together of the parts. A contraction of a word is made by omitting certain letters or syllables and bringing together the first and last letters or elements; an abbreviation may be made by omitting certain portions from the interior or by cutting off a part. A contraction is an abbreviation, but an abbreviation is not necessarily a contraction. Acronyms and initialisms are regarded as subsets of abbreviations (e.g. by the Council of Science Editors). They are abbreviations that consist of the initial letters or parts of words.

Backronym

A backronym, or bacronym, is a constructed phrase that purports to be the source of a word that is an acronym. Backronyms may be invented with either serious or humorous intent, or they may be a type of false etymology or folk etymology.

An acronym is a word derived from the initial letters of the words of a phrase: For example, the word radar comes from "radio detection and ranging".By contrast, a backronym is "an acronym deliberately formed from a phrase whose initial letters spell out a particular word or words, either to create a memorable name or as a fanciful explanation of a word's origin."For example, the United States Department of Justice assigns to its Amber Alert program the meaning "America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response," but the term originally referred to Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old abducted and murdered in Texas in 1996.The word is a blend of back and acronym.

Conjunction (grammar)

In grammar, a conjunction (abbreviated CONJ or CNJ) is a part of speech that connects words, phrases, or clauses that are called the conjuncts of the conjunctions. The term discourse marker is mostly used for conjunctions joining sentences. This definition may overlap with that of other parts of speech, so what constitutes a "conjunction" must be defined for each language. In English a given word may have several senses, being either a preposition or a conjunction depending on the syntax of the sentence (for example, "after" being a preposition in "he left after the fight" versus it being a conjunction in "he left after they fought"). In general, a conjunction is an invariable (noninflected) grammatical particle and it may or may not stand between the items conjoined.

The definition may also be extended to idiomatic phrases that behave as a unit with the same function, e.g. "as well as", "provided that".

A simple literary example of a conjunction: "the truth of nature, and the power of giving interest". (Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Biographia Literaria)Conjunctions may be placed at the beginning of sentences: "But some superstition about the practice persists".

Create, read, update and delete

In computer programming, create, read, update, and delete (CRUD) are the four basic functions of persistent storage. Alternate words are sometimes used when defining the four basic functions of CRUD, such as retrieve instead of read, modify instead of update, or destroy instead of delete. CRUD is also sometimes used to describe user interface conventions that facilitate viewing, searching, and changing information; often using computer-based forms and reports. The term was likely first popularized by James Martin in his 1983 book Managing the Data-base Environment. The acronym may be extended to CRUDL to cover listing of large data sets which bring additional complexity such as pagination when the data sets are too large to be easily held in memory.

FAQ

An FAQ is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers on a particular topic (also known as Questions and Answers [Q&A] or Frequently Answered Questions). The format is often used in articles, websites, email lists, and online forums where common questions tend to recur, for example through posts or queries by new users related to common knowledge gaps. The purpose of an FAQ is generally to provide information on frequent questions or concerns; however, the format is a useful means of organizing information, and text consisting of questions and their answers may thus be called an FAQ regardless of whether the questions are actually frequently asked.

Since the acronym FAQ originated in textual media, its pronunciation varies. FAQ is most commonly pronounced as an initialism, "F-A-Q", but may also be pronounced as an acronym, "FAQ". Web page designers often label a single list of questions as an "FAQ", such as on Google Search, while using "FAQs" to denote multiple lists of questions such as on United States Treasury sites. Use of "FAQ" to refer to a single frequently asked question, in and of itself, is less common.

Hitchhiker Program

The Hitchhiker Program (HH) was a NASA program established in 1984 and administered by the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). The program was designed to allow low-cost and quick reactive experiments to be placed on board the Space Shuttle. The program was discontinued after the Space Shuttle Columbia accident of STS-107.

IMVU

IMVU Inc., (, stylized as imvu) is an online metaverse and website. IMVU was founded in 2004 and was originally backed by venture investors Menlo Ventures, Allegis Capital, Bridgescale Partners, and Best Buy Capital. IMVU members use 3D avatars to meet new people, chat, create, and play games. IMVU had over four million active users in 2014. Current number of active players are unknown, and currently the site has the largest virtual goods catalog of more than 30 million items. The business was previously located in Mountain View, California. It was also known as one of the leading practitioners of the lean startup approach.The company name was neither an acronym nor an initialism. IMVU co-founder Eric Ries described the accidental process by which the company acquired its meaningless name, and stated "It's not an acronym; it doesn't stand for anything".

Internet slang

Internet slang (Internet shorthand, cyber-slang, netspeak, or chatspeak) refers to various kinds of slang used by different people on the Internet. An example of Internet slang is "LOL" meaning "laugh out loud". It is difficult to provide a standardized definition of Internet slang due to the constant changes made to its nature. However, it can be understood to be any type of slang that Internet users have popularized, and in many cases, have coined. Such terms often originate with the purpose of saving keystrokes or to compensate for small character limits. Many people use the same abbreviations in texting and instant messaging, and social networking websites. Acronyms, keyboard symbols and abbreviations are common types of Internet slang. New dialects of slang, such as leet or Lolspeak, develop as ingroup internet memes rather than time savers. Some people only use LOL for fun. Many people use this internet slang not only on the Internet but also face-to-face.

JAINA

JAINA is an acronym for the Federation of Jain Associations in North America, an umbrella organizations to preserve, practice, and promote Jainism in USA and Canada. It was founded in 1981 and formalized in 1983. Among Jain organization it is unique in that it represents Jains of all sects, and thus effectively represents the entire Jain community in USA and Canada.

LGBT

LGBT, or GLBT, is an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. In use since the 1990s, the term is an adaptation of the initialism LGB, which was used to replace the term gay in reference to the LGBT community beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s. Activists believed that the term gay community did not accurately represent all those to whom it referred.

The initialism has become adopted into the mainstream as an umbrella term for use when labeling topics pertaining to sexuality and gender identity. For example, the LGBT Movement Advancement Project termed community centres, which have services specific to those member of the LGBT community, as "LGBT community centers", in a comprehensive studies of such centres around the United States.The initialism LGBT is intended to emphasize a diversity of sexuality and gender identity-based cultures. It may be used to refer to anyone who is non-heterosexual or non-cisgender, instead of exclusively to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. To recognize this inclusion, a popular variant adds the letter Q for those who identify as queer or are questioning their sexual identity; "LGBTQ" has been recorded since 1996. Those who add intersex people to LGBT groups or organizing use an extended initialism LGBTI. The two acronyms are sometimes combined to form the terms LGBTIQ or LGBT+ to encompass spectrums of sexuality and gender. Other, less common variants also exist, motivated by a desire for inclusivity, including those over twice as long which have prompted criticism.

List of military slang terms

Military slang is a colloquial language used by and associated with members of various military forces. This page lists slang words or phrases that originate with military forces, are used exclusively by military personnel or are strongly associated with military organizations.

MENA

MENA is an English-language acronym referring to the Middle East and North Africa region. An alternative for the same group of countries is WANA (West Asia and North Africa). The term covers an extensive region stretching from Morocco to Iran, including all Mashriq and Maghreb countries. This toponym is roughly synonymous with the term the Greater Middle East.

The population of the MENA region at its least extent is estimated to be around 381 million people. This constitutes about 6% of the total world population. The MENA acronym is often used in academia, military planning, disaster relief, media planning as a broadcast region, and business writing.

MILF

MILF is an acronym that stands for "Mother/Mom/Mama I'd Like to Fuck". This abbreviation is used in colloquial English, instead of the whole phrase. It connotes a sexually attractive mother. The phrase's usage has gone from relatively obscure to mainstream in the media and entertainment.

RAS syndrome

RAS syndrome (where "RAS" stands for "redundant acronym syndrome", making the phrase "RAS syndrome" self-referential) is the use of one or more of the words that make up an acronym (or other initialism) in conjunction with the abbreviated form. This means, in effect, repeating one or more words from the acronym. Two common examples are "PIN number"/ "VIN number" (the "N" in PIN and VIN stands for "number") and "ATM machine" (the "M" in ATM stands for "machine"). The term RAS syndrome was coined in 2001 by New Scientist.Usage of these redundant acronyms is advised against by many style guides, but they continue to have widespread usage in colloquial speech.

Recursive acronym

A recursive acronym is an acronym that refers to itself. The term was first used in print in 1979 in Douglas Hofstadter's book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, in which Hofstadter invents the acronym GOD, meaning "GOD Over Djinn", to help explain infinite series, and describes it as a recursive acronym. Other references followed, however the concept was used as early as 1968 in John Brunner's science fiction novel Stand on Zanzibar. In the story, the acronym EPT (Education for Particular Task) later morphed into "Eptification for Particular Task".

Recursive acronyms typically form backwardly: either an existing ordinary acronym is given a new explanation of what the letters stand for, or a name is turned into an acronym by giving the letters an explanation of what they stand for, in each case with the first letter standing recursively for the whole acronym.

SNAFU

SNAFU is an acronym that is widely used to stand for the sarcastic expression Situation Normal: All Fucked Up. It is a well-known example of military acronym slang; however the original military acronym stood for "Status Nominal: All Fucked Up." It is sometimes bowdlerized to "all fouled up" or similar. It means that the situation is bad, but that this is a normal state of affairs. The acronym is believed to have originated in the United States Marine Corps during World War II.

In modern usage, SNAFU is sometimes used as an interjection. SNAFU also sometimes refers to a bad situation, mistake, or cause of trouble. It is more commonly used in modern vernacular to describe running into an error or problem that is large and unexpected. For example, in 2005, The New York Times published an article titled "Hospital Staff Cutback Blamed for Test Result Snafu".

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), previously Science, Math, Engineering and Technology (SMET), is a term used to group together these academic disciplines. This term is typically used when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development. It has implications for workforce development, national security concerns and immigration policy.The acronym came into common use shortly after an interagency meeting on science education held at the US National Science Foundation chaired by the then NSF director Rita Colwell.

A director from the Office of Science division of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, Peter Faletra, suggested the change from the older acronym SMET to STEM. Colwell, expressing some dislike for the older acronym, responded by suggesting NSF institute the change. However, the acronym STEM predates NSF and likely traces its origin to Charles Vela, the founder and director of the Center for the Advancement of Hispanics in Science and Engineering Education (CAHSEE). In the early 1990's CAHSEE started a summer program for talented under-represented students in the Washington, DC area called the STEM Institute. Based on the program's recognized success and his expertise in STEM education, Charles Vela was asked to serve on numerous NSF and Congressional panels in science, mathematics and engineering education; it is through this manner that NSF was first introduced to the acronym STEM. One of the first NSF projects to use the acronym was STEMTEC, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Teacher Education Collaborative at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which was founded in 1998.

Ta'al

Ta'al (Hebrew: תַּעַ"ל, an acronym for Tnu'a Aravit LeHithadshut (Hebrew: תְּנוּעָה עֲרָבִית לְהִתְחַדְּשׁוּת, lit. Arab Movement for Renewal, Arabic: الحركة العربية للتغيير‎) is an Israeli Arab political party in Israel led by Ahmad Tibi. The party was part of the Joint List in the 2015 election, before it withdrew in January 2019.

Three-letter acronym

A three-letter acronym (TLA), or three-letter abbreviation, is an abbreviation, specifically an acronym, alphabetism, or initialism, consisting of three letters. These are usually the initial letters of the words of the phrase abbreviated, and are written in capital letters (upper case); three-letter abbreviations such as etc. and Mrs. are not three-letter acronyms, but "TLA" itself is a TLA (an example of an autological abbreviation).

Most three-letter abbreviations are initialisms: all the letters are pronounced as the names of letters, as in APA AY-pee-AY. Some are acronyms pronounced as a word; computed axial tomography, CAT, is almost always pronounced as the animal's name in "CAT scan".

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