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

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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 Judging by the volume of Google search, most people learned what PPE meant by May, although some continued to be confused by the acronym. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "Did you know any of these terms before Covid-19?," 24 Dec. 2020 Many companies have created C-suite officers to help their organizations do better in diversity, inclusion and equity, which is becoming know by the acronym DI & E. Jackie Crosby And Star Tribune December 24, Star Tribune, "Can a 10-minute survey get a firm's diversity goals on track? This Minneapolis company thinks so," 24 Dec. 2020 Nomen wines are sold in bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate, better known by the acronym PET. Michael Alberty | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "O’Reilly family thinks plastic is fantastic for their new Nomen wines," 15 Dec. 2020 Now no one can back out ...’ using an acronym for Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Chicago Tribune Staff,, "The Spin: Illinois marks highest coronavirus daily death count since the pandemic started | Did Mayor Lori Lightfoot have a bet on CTU strike? | Trump teases 2024 bid for a second term," 2 Dec. 2020 The low mood, lack of energy and impulse to eat and sleep more which is all part and parcel of SAD (how crudely apt an acronym) is thought to affect around around 10 million Americans and 2-3% of Canadians. Sadhbh O'sullivan,, "SAD Is Going To Hit Different This Year. Here’s How To Cope," 17 Nov. 2020 The seven-member boy band, who have over 31 million followers on Twitter, are continuing to build their roster of diehard fans who call themselves the A.R.M.Y., an acronym for Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth. Chevaz Clarke, CBS News, "What were the most popular Twitter trends this year?," 7 Dec. 2020 Under the current system, users pay 10 cents per page to view the public records through the service known as PACER, an acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records. Washington Post, "Lawmakers are trying to create a database with free access to court records. Judges are fighting against it.," 4 Dec. 2020 California,New York, New Jersey and the U.S. House of Representatives have all passed versions of the Crown Act, an acronym for Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, "UPS allows employees to wear natural Black hairstyles and beards," 12 Nov. 2020

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

31 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Acronym.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for acronym


How to pronounce acronym (audio)

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.”

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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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