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 American Heart Association uses an acronym to spot and quickly respond to a stroke, said Dr. Lloyd-Jones, who is also the Association’s president: FAST, which stands for face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 911. Brianna Abbott, WSJ, 16 May 2022 All-male Morehouse College, founded in 1867 in Atlanta, is one of the United States’ leading H.B.C.U.s, an acronym for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. New York Times, 13 May 2022 Both Freedomworks and Musk now appear to have joined a growing segment of the American right looking to ESG as another convenient three-letter acronym to milk for political gain. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, 23 May 2022 Again acronym Democrats are using to cast Republicans as extremists. Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 20 May 2022 Again acronym Democrats have been using to cast those Republicans as extremists. Alan Fram, Chicago Tribune, 19 May 2022 Again acronym Democrats have been using to cast those Republicans as extremists. Alan Fram, ajc, 19 May 2022 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the animal rights group known by its acronym PETA, applauded the show returning without the animals. Allison Prang, WSJ, 19 May 2022 Again acronym Democrats have been using to cast those Republicans as extremists. Alan Fram, Anchorage Daily News, 19 May 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

Learn More About acronym

Time Traveler for acronym

Time Traveler

The first known use of acronym was in 1940

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About acronym

Dictionary Entries Near acronym

acronarcotic

acronym

acropetal

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for acronym

Last Updated

23 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Acronym.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/acronym. Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!