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

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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 Same as with Vincenzo, CLoY (the acronym by which fans refer to the show) is chock-a-block with everything from romance to comedy, drama, action sequences, big-budget set pieces, an ensemble bromance, and spy action, along with much more. Andy Meek, BGR, 3 July 2021 This month, the director of national intelligence, in consultation with the secretary of defense, is supposed to submit a report on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP, the polite acronym for UFOs) to two congressional committees. Sarah Scoles, The Atlantic, 25 June 2021 The refugee athletes will compete against 205 national teams with identifier EOR, for the French acronym of the team name. Graham Dunbar, Star Tribune, 8 June 2021 The framework hinges on the IDEA acronym, which stands for inclusion, diversity, equity and accountability, and measures how well the company fulfills each of those principles. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 June 2021 People leveraged the concept and the name, though many today do not realize that the origins consisted of the CARE acronym. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 12 May 2021 The fancy acronym basically means the headphones have Bluetooth (BT) pairing and Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology, for a fuss-free listening experience. Tim Chan, Billboard, 22 Apr. 2021 Since the end of the Cold War, the military has used the acronym VUCA to describe our global environment: one that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. BostonGlobe.com, 19 Apr. 2021 Revolorio said, using an acronym that did not seem to engage the men. John Leland, New York Times, 28 May 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

17 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Acronym.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acronym. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for acronym

acronym

noun

English Language Learners Definition of acronym

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

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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