User:Jnestorius/Types of initialism

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Table of types of acronym and initialism, with examples.

The Oxford English Dictionary uses "initialism" or "acronym" as appropriate in its etymologies, except that B.V.D. is "(biːviːˈdiː) [Acronym f. the initial letters of the name of its manufacturers, Bradley, Voorhees & Day: the widely-held belief that B.V.D. stood for ‘babies' ventilated diapers’ is mistaken.] "

Source data from mainspace article[edit]

  • pronounced as a word or names of letters, depending on speaker or context:
    • IRA: ([ˈaɪrə] or [aɪ.ɑr.eɪ])
    • ((LOL)) LaughOutLoud
    • FAQ: ([fæk] or [ɛf.eɪ.kju]) frequently asked questions
    • SAT: ([sæt] or [ɛs.eɪ.ti]) Scholastic Achievement (or Aptitude) Test(s)
    • SQL: ([sikwəɫ] or [ɛs.kɪu.ɛl]) Structured Query Language
  • pronounced as a combination of names of letters and a word:
    • CD-ROM: ([si.di.rɒm]) Compact Disc read-only memory
    • IUPAC: ([aɪ.ju.pæk]) International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
    • JPEG: ([ˈdʒeɪpɛg]) Joint Photographic Experts Group
    • PDFORRA: ([pi.di.fɔrə]) Permanent Defence Forces Other Ranks Representative Association
  • pronounced only as the names of letters
    • BBC: British Broadcasting Corporation
    • DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid
    • LED: light-emitting diode
    • OB-GYN: obstetrics and gyn(a)ecology or obstetrician and gyn(a)ecologist
  • pronounced as the names of letters that also sound like words
    • YRUU: ([waɪ.ɑr.ju.ju]) Young Religious Unitarian Universalists
  • pronounced as the names of letters to distinguish it from the word the abbreviation forms
  • pronounced as the names of letters but with a shortcut
    • AAA: ([trɪpəɫ.eɪ]) American Automobile Association or anti-aircraft artillery
    • IEEE: (aɪ.trɪpəɫ.i) Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
    • NAACP: (ɛn.dʌbəɫ.eɪ.si.pi) National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
    • NCAA: ([ɛʌbəɫ.eɪ]) National Collegiate Athletic Association
  • shortcut incorporated into name
    • 3M: ([θri.ɛm]) originally Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company
    • : ([i.θri]) Electronic Entertainment Exposition
    • W3C: ([dʌbəɫju.θ]) World Wide Web Consortium
  • recursive acronyms, in which the abbreviation itself is the expansion of one initial (particularly enjoyed by the open-source community)
    • GNU: GNU’s Not Unix
    • HURD: HIRD of Unix-Replacing Daemons, where "HIRD" stands for "HURD of Interfaces Representing Depth"
    • VISA: VISA International Service Association
    • WINE: WINE Is Not an Emulator
  • pseudo-acronyms are used because, when pronounced as intended, they resemble the sounds of other words:
  • multidimentional acronyms:
    • GTK+: GIMP Tool Kit, i.e. GNU Image Manipulation Program Tool Kit, i.e., GNU's Not Unix Image Manipulation Program Tool Kit



e.g.[1] desc[2] W[3] M[4] S[5] LS[6] E[7] M[8]
deejay, emcee, okay, Esso, Seabee respelled initialism
jeep, Beeb, Veep clipped initialism
Énarque, Cégétiste, Defeño, cubewano respelled as morpheme
FNMA, FTSE, SCSI acronym with inserted vowels
FLWOR acronym with reordered letters "flower"
MUSL "MUlti-State Lottery association" → [2-1 1 0]
laser "by" uncoded; origin less known, lowercase
NATO sound of "A" different from component
scuba hyphenation in "self-contained"
Amphetamine et should be eth; amine coded entire
Gestapo Benelux not camel case; syllabic
Interpol syllabic; not all words coded
radar almost initial-only; "and" omitted
BMX,XA,X/F, XPM, XSS X=trans/cross: rebus
SXSW X="by" (multiplication sign rebus)
BMO, MPEG, PDFORRA, RGDATA part initialism, part acronym
CSRF part initialism, part acronym-with-inserted-vowels
SFX part initialism, part phonetic
BBQ part initialism, part phonetic; rebus influences new spelling; letter per syllable
IRA initialism in English, acronym in French
RAF formally initialism, affectionately acronym
AWOL originally initialism, became acronym
AK PARTİ rare 2-letter acronym
asap, URL usually initialism, occasionally acronym
SQL sometimes acronym-w-inserted-vowels, sometimes initialism
XML X often used for eX- words in initialisms, not acronyms
quango retains the u for pronunciation
NASDAQ final Q often allowed
Qantas, HIQA rare Q = [kw] where not followed by u (also A for "and" in QANTAS)
AT&T, T&GWU ampersand for And
XANES X genuine initial (X-ray)
OS X, SSPX X as roman numeral
TNT morphemes not words
agitprop 2-syllable+1-syllable
SoHo Camelcase
BCBG becebege
PJs pajamas: per syllable, non-morphemic
TB I guess originally Tubercle bacillus, now mainly tuberculosis even though the B is non-morphemic; bacillus now called Mycobacterium tuberculosis abbreviated MTB
ID noun: identification or identification document? verb: identify?
EPO. OB/GYN initialism for arbitrary subset of letters of word.
JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) JUpiter ICy moon Explorer -- c'mon, guys!
BSc, UVA alphabetism as w1l1-w2l1-w2l2
LEADER (Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Économie Rurale); MEAS (Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society) macaronic backronym
Lunar CATALYST (Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown) The Y in CATALYST is not in the expansion at all.
Arcelor Conmebol start-mid-end blend
P3P Note not PPPP or P4 but rather P3P. Why not P2P2?

Key to table[edit]

  1. ^ examples
  2. ^ prose description of noeworthy features
  3. ^ At least one component is a word
  4. ^ At least one component is a morph
  5. ^ At least one component is a syllable
  6. ^ one letter from start of component
  7. ^ includes letters from middle of component
  8. ^ includes letters from end of component