acronym

noun
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 The acronym stands for Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors. Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times, 27 July 2022 This acronym stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity and was originally used to describe the state of the world after the Cold War. Steve Flagg, Forbes, 21 June 2022 The acronym stands for, wait for it, fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Isadora Baum, Men's Health, 13 June 2022 The acronym stands for Greater Understanding through Intervention, Diversification and Education. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 May 2022 The acronym essentially stands for developing low-emissions aircraft powered by electric motors. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, 2 May 2022 The acronym stands for sports, leadership arts and management. Sofia Krusmark, The Arizona Republic, 13 Mar. 2022 The acronym stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols—which, more simply put, are specific types of sugars that may be difficult to digest and then left in the digestive tract for bacteria to feed on. Amy Marturana Winderl, SELF, 10 Mar. 2022 The acronym stands for 1Malaysia Development Bhd, and Razak led its advisory board until 2016. Carmela Chirinos, Fortune, 7 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Acronym.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acronym. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for acronym

acronym

noun
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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about acronym

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