ac·​ro·​nym | \ ˈa-krə-ˌnim How to pronounce acronym (audio) \

Definition of acronym

: a word (such as NATO, radar, or laser) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term also : an abbreviation (such as FBI) formed from initial letters : initialism

Other Words from acronym

acronymic \ ˌa-​krə-​ˈni-​mik How to pronounce acronym (audio) \ adjective
acronymically \ ˌa-​krə-​ˈni-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce acronym (audio) \ adverb

Frequently Asked Questions About acronym

What is the difference between an acronym and an initialism?

Both acronyms and initialisms are made up of the first letter or letters of the words in a phrase. The word acronym typically applies when the resulting thing can be read as a word; for example, radar comes from "radio detection and ranging" and scuba comes from "self-contained underwater breathing apparatus." The word initialism only applies when the resulting thing is read as an abbreviation; for example DIY, which comes from "do it yourself," is pronounced by saying the names of the letters. Note that the word acronym is also sometimes used to mean "initialism."

What is the difference between an acronym and an abbreviation?

An acronym is a kind of abbreviation. Abbreviations can be shortened forms of any kind. For example, appt is an abbreviation of appointment, and ASAP is an abbreviation of as soon as possible. ASAP, however, also qualifies as an acronym because it is made up of the initial letters of the phrase it comes from: as soon as possible.

Is OK an acronym?

OK is technically an acronym. It comes from the phrase "oll korrect," a humorous alteration of "all correct."

Examples of acronym in a Sentence

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is known by the acronym “NATO.”
Recent Examples on the Web Programs in the works for the new year, some of which Mora said Pickles is an acronym for, include: Pickles Illuminate, an annual memorial service for families who have lost someone to cancer. Shanzeh Ahmad,, 18 Dec. 2021 Hill went on to explain that their co-star Jennifer Lawrence had to clear things up, letting Streep know what the acronym meant. Katie Campione,, 7 Dec. 2021 With Facebook’s name change, the acronym for the five biggest American tech companies, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google, will unceremoniously change from FAANG to the even less appetizing MAANG. Fortune, 28 Oct. 2021 This acronym is a consolidation of our belief that not only has gratitude not been practiced enough, but it’s not been practiced in the right way. Chris Schembra, Rolling Stone, 30 Sep. 2021 The title is an acronym for Children of Deaf Adults. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 4 Dec. 2021 Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State commonly used in Afghanistan. The Washington Post, Arkansas Online, 23 Nov. 2021 But David Baboolall, an associate partner at McKinsey, said the moment had come to break apart the acronym into its constituent parts, because each of the LGBTQ+ subgroups has such specific needs. Cassie Werber, Quartz, 15 Nov. 2021 Women are more likely than men to identify as LGBTQ: 6.4% of adult women identify with the acronym compared with 4.9% of men, according to a Gallup poll. USA Today, 15 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'acronym.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of acronym

1940, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for acronym

probably borrowed from German Akronym, Akronymon, from akr- acr- + -onym, -onymon -onym

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The first known use of acronym was in 1940

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Last Updated

1 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Acronym.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for acronym



English Language Learners Definition of acronym

: a word formed from the first letters of each one of the words in a phrase


ac·​ro·​nym | \ ˈa-krə-ˌnim How to pronounce acronym (audio) \

Kids Definition of acronym

: a word formed from the first letter or letters of the words of a compound term The word "radar" is an acronym for "radio detecting and ranging."

More from Merriam-Webster on acronym

Nglish: Translation of acronym for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of acronym for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about acronym


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