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Acronyms, Abbreviations & Initialisms

The Internet today holds hundreds of thousands of contemporary English acronyms, abbreviations and initialisms used in a large variety of categories from computing and the Web to governmental, medicine and business:

  • Academic & Science
  • Business & Finance
  • Medical
  • Community
  • Computing
  • Governmental
  • Internet

Abbreviations
An abbreviation is a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole, as Dr. for Doctor, U.S. for United States, lb. for pound.

Initialisms and acronyms are two types of abbreviations that are used to shorten phrases.

Initialisms are abbreviations that are pronounced one letter at a time.
Examples:
– FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
– HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
– IBM (International Business Machines)
– DVD (Digital Versatile Disk)
– BTW (by the way)
Note that most people would simply call these abbreviations, which is fine. Some would call them acronyms, which sticklers would challenge.

Acronyms are abbreviations that are pronounced as words.
Examples:
– NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
– AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
– OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)
– SPA (Society of Professional Accountants)
– WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant)
– ASAP (as soon as possible)
– Radar (radio detecting and ranging)
– Scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus)