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
acronymicplay \ˌa-krə-ˈni-mik\ adjective
acronymicallyplay \-mi-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
acronym was our Word of the Day on 05/05/2017. Hear the podcast!
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Examples of acronym in a Sentence
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is known by the acronym “NATO.”
Recent Examples of acronym from the Web
Ali Mehdi, a member of al-Timimi's security detail, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
Several universities have promoted ALICE training classes, an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.
TOPAZ is an acronym for Thermionic Experiment with Conversion in Active Zone.
Now comes this particular Camaro, one that combines two of those acronyms but wears an invoice price that doesn’t seem adequate to cover the sum of its parts.
Look first to the luminaries known by their acronyms: PG, TK, @AVC, a16z.
ISIS is an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.
Members of finance twitter have also joined in the fun, coming up with acronyms of their own to demarcate the outperformers.
Dr. Agustín Lage, director of CIM — the Havana center’s Spanish acronym — said last October when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the FDA authorization of the clinical trial.
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.
What's the difference between an abbreviation and an acronym?
Some people are unsure of whether to call ASAP or appt abbreviations or acronyms. Both abbreviation and acronym are used to refer to a shortened form, but an acronym is a shortened form of a phrase and is usually made up of the initial letters of that phrase. For example, NATO comes from “North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” and ASAP comes from “as soon as possible.” Abbreviations, on the other hand, can be shortened forms of words or phrases, and need not necessarily be made up of the initial letters of either. ASAP and appt (for appointment) are both considered abbreviations, but only ASAP is an acronym. Acronyms are a type of abbreviation.
What is the difference between the words acronym and initialism?
Acronym is a fairly recent word, dating from the 1940s, although acronyms existed long before we gave them that name. The term was preceded in English by the word initialism, meaning an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of a phrase, and which has been in use since the late 19th century.
Some people feel strongly that acronym should only be used for terms like NATO, which is pronounced as a single word, and that initialism should be used if the individual letters are all pronounced distinctly, as with FBI. Our research shows that acronym is commonly used to refer to both types of abbreviations.
Did You Know?
Acronym was created by combining acr- ("beginning") with -onym, ("name" or "word"). You may recognize -onym in other familiar English words such as pseudonym and synonym. English speakers borrowed -onym directly from the Greek (it derives from onyma, the Greek word for "name"). Acr- is also from Greek, but it made a side trip through Middle French on its way to English.
Origin and Etymology of acronym
acr- + -onym name, word
First Known Use: 1940See Words from the same year
ACRONYM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of acronym for English Language Learners
: a word formed from the first letters of each one of the words in a phrase
ACRONYM Defined for Kids
Definition of acronym for Students
: 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.”
Seen and Heard
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