Acronym and initialism

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An acronym is a word formed from the initial letter or letters of other words (e.g., RAM, scuba, PETA). An initialism is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of the constituent words in a phrase (e.g., IRS), of syllables or components of a word (e.g., TNT), or in a combination of whole words and parts (e.g., ESP) <ref>American Heritage Dictionary</ref>, and is pronounced as the names of the individual letters rather than a word.

Note: All acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations, but not all abbreviations are acronyms or initialisms. Acronyms and initialisms differ only in the way they are pronounced.


[edit] Nomenclature

Initialism originally referred to abbreviations formed from initials, without reference to pronunciation, but during the middle portion of the twentieth century, the word acronym was coined, but only for those abbreviations that are actually pronounced as words, like NATO or AIDS.

Of the words, acronym is the much more frequently used and known; and many use it erroneously to describe any abbreviation formed from initial letters.<ref name=AUE>Israel, Mark, Alt.English.Usage Fast-Access FAQ, accessed May 2, 2006. "'Dictionaries, however, do not make this distinction [between acronyms and initialisms] because writers in general do not'"</ref><ref>"acronym." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, accessed May 2, 2006. "an abbreviation (as FBI) formed from initial letters"</ref><ref>Crystal, David (1995). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-55985-5. p. 120: "However, some linguists do not recognize a sharp distinction between acronyms and initialisms, but use the former term for both."</ref><ref>"acronym". The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1991), Oxford University Press. p. 12: "a word, usu[ally] pronounced as such, formed from the initial letters of other words (e.g. Ernie, laser, Nato)".</ref> This is a contentious point, however, and other sources differentiate between the two terms, restricting acronym to pronounceable words formed from the letters of each of the constituent words, and using initialism or alphabetism<ref>Crystal, David (1995). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-55985-5. p. 120: "Initialisms [...] are spoken as individual letters, such as BBC, DJ, MP, EEC, e.g., and USA; also called alphabetisms."</ref> for abbreviations pronounced as the names of the individual letters. In the latter usage, examples of proper acronyms would be NATO (IPA: [ˈneɪtoʊ] or [ˈneɪtəu]), and radar ([ˈreɪdɑ(ɹ)]), while examples of mere initialisms would include FBI ([ɛf.biˈaɪ]) and HTML ([eɪtʃ.ti.ɛmˈɛl]).<ref name=OED>"acronym" Oxford English Dictionary. Ed. J.A. Simpson and E.S.C. Weiner. 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. OED Online Oxford University Press. Accessed May 2, 2006.</ref><ref>Crystal, David (1995). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-55985-5. p. 120: "Initialisms [...] are spoken as individual letters, such as BBC, DJ, MP, EEC, e.g., and USA", "Acronyms [...] are pronounced as single words, such as NATO, laser, UNESCO, and SALT (talks). Such items would never have periods separating the letters—a contrast with initialisms, where punctuation is often present (especially in older styles of English)."</ref><ref>"acronym". Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (2003), Barnes & Noble. ISBN 0-7607-4975-2. "2. a set of initials representing a name, organization, or the like, with each letter pronounced separately, as FBI for Federal Bureau of Investigation."</ref><ref>"initialism". The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1991), Oxford University Press. p. 609: "a group of initial letters used as an abbreviation for a name or expression, each letter being pronounced separately (e.g. BBC)".</ref>

There is no agreement as to what to call abbreviations that contain both separately pronounced letters and sequences of letters pronounced as a "word", such as JPEG (jay-peg) or MS-DOS (em-ess-doss). These abbreviations are sometimes referred to as acronym-initialism hybrids, although they are grouped by most under the broad meaning of acronym.

In English-language discussion of languages with syllable-based writing systems (such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean), acronym describes short forms that take the first character of each (multi-character) element. For example, Beijing University—Beijing Daxue (literally, North-Capital Big-School 北京大学)—is widely known as Beida (literally, North-Big 北大). In describing such languages, the term initialism is inapplicable.

[edit] History

In the English language, the widespread use of acronyms, initialisms, and contractions is a relatively new linguistic phenomenon, having become most popular in the 20th and 21st centuries. As literacy rates rose, and as sciences and technologies advanced, bringing with them more complicated terms and concepts, the practice of abbreviating terms became increasingly convenient. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) records the first printed use of the word initialism as occurring in 1899; acronym, in 1943. The word acronym comes from Greek: ακρος, akros, "topmost, extreme" + ονομα, onoma, "name".

Nonetheless, earlier examples of acronyms in other languages exist. The early Christians in Rome used a fish as a symbol for Jesus in part because of an acronym—fish in Greek is ΙΧΘΥΣ (ichthys), which was said to stand for Ιησους Χριστος Θεου Υιος Σωτηρ (Iesous CHristos THeou (h)Uios Soter: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior). Evidence of this interpretation dates from the 2nd and 3rd centuries and is preserved in the catacombs of Rome. And for centuries, the Church has used the inscription INRI over the crucifix, which stands for the Latin Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum ("Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews").

Initialisms are known to have been used in Rome dating back even earlier than the Christian era. For example, the official name for the Roman Empire (and the Republic before it) was abbreviated as SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus), showing a clear precedent.

[edit] Early examples in English

  • A.M. (Latin ante meridiem, "before noon") and P.M. (Latin post meridiem, "after noon")
  • O.K., a term of disputed origin, dating back at least to the early 19th century, now used around the world
  • n.g., for "no good", from 1838

None of these is an acronym; they are initialisms, because they are not pronounced as words.

[edit] Usage

Initialisms are used most often to abbreviate names of organizations and long or frequently referenced terms. The armed forces and government agencies frequently employ initialisms (and occasionally, acronyms), perhaps most famously in the "alphabet agencies" created by Franklin D. Roosevelt under the New Deal.

[edit] Jargon

Acronyms and initialisms often occur in jargon. An initialism may have different meanings in different areas of industry, writing, and scholarship. This has led some to obfuscate the meaning either intentionally, to deter those without such domain-specific knowledge, or unintentionally, by creating initialism that already existed.

[edit] Written usage

Written presentation of both acronyms and initialisms varies from person to person and from one body's suggested or required usage to that of another.

[edit] Punctuation

Traditionally, in English, abbreviations have been written with a full stop / period / point in place of the deleted part, although the colon and apostrophe have also had this role. In the case of most acronyms and initialisms, each letter is an abbreviation of a separate word and, in theory, should get its own termination mark. Such punctuation is diminishing with the belief that the presence of all-capital letters is sufficient to indicate that the word is an abbreviation.

Some influential style guides, such as that of the BBC, no longer require punctuation, or even proscribe it. Larry Trask, American author of The Penguin Guide to Punctuation, states categorically that, in British English, "this tiresome and unnecessary practice is now obsolete"[1], though some other sources are not so absolute in their pronouncements.

Nevertheless, some influential style guides, many of them American, still require periods in certain instances. The New York Times’ guide recommends separating each segment with a period in an abbreviation not pronounced as a word (an initialism), such as K.G.B., but not for a true acronym (pronounced as a word), such as NATO.[2]

Some style manuals also base the letters' case on their number. The New York Times, for example, keeps NATO in all capitals (while several guides in the British press may render it Nato), but uses lowercase in Unicef (from United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) because it is more than four letters.

Some acronyms undergo assimilation into ordinary words, when they become common: for example, when technical terms become commonplace among non-technical people. Often they are then written in lower case, and eventually it is widely forgotten that the word was derived from the initials of others: scuba ("Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus") and laser ("Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation"), for instance. The term anacronym has been coined as a portmanteau of the words anachronism and acronym to describe acronyms whose original meaning is unknown to most speakers.

When a multiple-letter abbreviation is formed from a single word, periods are generally proscribed, although they may be common in informal, personal usage. TV, for example, may stand for a single word (television or transvestite, for instance), and is generally spelled without punctuation (except in the plural). Although PS stands for the single word postscript (or the Latin postscriptum), it is often spelled with periods (P.S.). (Wikiquote abbreviates television as T.V.)

[edit] Plurals and possessives

The traditional style of pluralizing single letters with the addition of ’s (for example, Bs come after As) was extended to some of the earliest initialisms, which tended to be written with periods to indicate the omission of letters; some writers still pluralize initialisms in this way. Additionally, because an apostrophe can stand for missing letters, an abbreviation of compact discs, for example, can logically be rendered CD’s. Some style guides continue to require such apostrophes—perhaps partly to make it clear that the lowercase s is only for pluralization and would not appear in the singular form of the word, for some acronyms and abbreviations do include lowercase letters.

However, it has become common among many writers to inflect initialisms as ordinary words, using simple s, without an apostrophe, for the plural. In this case, compact discs becomes CDs. The logic here is that the apostrophe should be restricted to possessives: for example, the CD’s label (the label of the compact disc).

Multiple options arise when initialisms are spelled with periods and are pluralized: for example, compact discs may become C.D.’s, C.D’s, C.D.s, or CDs. Possessive plurals that also include apostrophes for mere pluralization and periods may appear especially complex: for example, the C.D.’s’ labels (the labels of the compact discs). Some see this as yet another reason to use apostrophes only for possessives and not for plurals. (In The New York Times, the plural possessive of G.I., which the newspaper prints with periods in reference to United States Army soldiers, is G.I.’s, with no apostrophe after the s.)

The argument that initialisms should have no different plural form (for example, "If D can stand for disc, it can also stand for discs") is generally disregarded because of the practicality in distinguishing singulars and plurals. This is not the case, however, when the abbreviation is understood to describe a plural noun already: for example, U.S. is short for United States, but not United State. In this case, the options for making a possessive form of an abbreviation that is already in its plural form without a final s may seem awkward: for example, U.S.’, U.S’, U.S.’s, etc. In such instances, possessive abbreviations are often foregone in favor of simple attributive usage (for example, the U.S. economy) or expanding the abbreviation to its full form and then making the possessive (for example, the United States' economy).

Abbreviations that come from single, rather than multiple, words—such as TV (television)—are pluralized both with and without apostrophes, depending on the logic followed: that the apostrophe shows the omission of letters and makes the s clear as only a pluralizer (TV’s); or that the apostrophe should be reserved for the possessive (TVs).

Especially in the 18th century, some writers of English considered numerals as abbreviations of whole words and punctuated them accordingly: for example, Thomas Jefferson, who employed such usage, might have abbreviated "I have two apples" with "I have 2. apples", with a period after the numeral. This consideration of numerals as abbreviations of whole words may be the reason behind the use of apostrophes in the plurals that denote decades: for example, the 1970’s.

Some writers omit this apostrophe, and would use it only for the possessive: for example, In 1970’s mid-term elections, ... (the mid-term elections of the year 1970). In The New York Times, the pluralizing apostrophe was retained until late 2006, but the truncating apostrophe when the century numerals were omitted was not used, so that the aforementioned decade was described in the NYT as the 70’s. The television sitcom That ’70s Show uses the apostrophe for the omission of the century numerals and forms the plural with a simple s. It is assumed that, in the NYT, something belonging to the decade of the 1970s might be described as the 1970’s’ or the 70’s’.

In the German language, numerals also appear with periods after them; but these are abbreviations of the ordinals. For example, the word zwei (two) is abbreviated with 2 (the numeral alone), but the word zweite (second) is abbreviated with 2. (period after the numeral).

In some languages, the convention of doubling the letters in the initialism is used to indicate plural words: for example, the Spanish EE.UU., for Estados Unidos (United States). This convention is followed for a limited number of English abbreviations, such as pp. for pages (although this is actually derived from the Latin abbreviation for paginae).

Acronyms that are now always rendered in the lowercase are pluralized as regular English nouns: for example, lasers.

When an acronym is part of a function in computing that is conventionally written in lowercase, it is common to use an apostrophe to pluralize or otherwise conjugate the token. This practice results in sentences like "Be sure to remove extraneous dll’s" (more than one dll). In computer lingo, it is common to use the name of a computer program, format, or function, acronym or not, as a verb; for example "Sam zipped the files" or "Sam zip’ed the files" means that Sam used a computer program to combine and/or compress the files in the ZIP format. In such verbification of abbreviations, there is confusion about how to conjugate: for example, if the verb IM (pronounced as separate letters) means to send (someone) an instant message, the past tense may be rendered IM’ed, IMed, IM’d, or IMd—and the third-person singular present indicative may be IM’s or IMs.

[edit] Numerals and constituent words

While typically abbreviations exclude the initials of short function words (such as "and", "or", "of", or "to"), they are sometimes included in acronyms to make them pronounceable.

Numbers (both cardinal and ordinal) in names are often represented by digits rather than initial letters: as in 4GL (Fourth generation language) or G77 (Group of 77). Large numbers may use metric prefixes, as with Y2K for "Year 2000". Exceptions using initials for numbers include TLA (three-letter acronym/abbreviation) and GoF (Gang of Four). Abbreviations using numbers for other purposes include repetitions, such as W3C (World Wide Web Consortium); pronunciation, such as B2B (business to business); and numeronyms, such as i18n (internationalization; 18 represents the 18 letters between the initial i and the final n).

In some cases, an acronym or initialism has been turned into a name, creating a pseudo-acronym. For example, the letters making up the name of the SAT (pronounced as letters) college entrance test no longer officially stand for anything. This trend has been common with many companies hoping to retain their brand recognition while simultaneously moving away from what they saw as an outdated image: American Telephone and Telegraph became AT&T (its parent/child, SBC, followed suit prior to its acquisition of AT&T and after its acquisition of a number of the other Baby Bells, changing from Southwestern Bell Corporation), Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC, British Petroleum became BP to emphasize that it was no longer only an oil company (captured by its motto "beyond petroleum"), Silicon Graphics, Incorporated became SGI to emphasize that it was no longer only a computer graphics company. DVD now has no official meaning: its advocates couldn't agree on whether the initials stood for "Digital Video Disc" or "Digital Versatile Disc", and now both terms are used.

Initialisms may have advantages in international markets: for example, some national affiliates of International Business Machines are legally incorporated as "IBM" (or, for example, "IBM Canada") to avoid translating the full name into local languages. Similarly, "UBS" is the name of the merged Union Bank of Switzerland and Swiss Bank Corporation.

Rebranding can lead to redundant-acronym syndrome, as when Trustee Savings Bank became TSB Bank. A few high-tech companies have taken the redundant acronym to the extreme: for example, ISM Information Systems Management Corp. and SHL Systemhouse Ltd. Another common example is RAM memory, which is redundant because RAM (random-access memory) includes the initial of the word memory; NIC card is similarly redundant, NIC standing for network-interface card. PIN stands for personal identification number, obviating the second word in PIN number. Other examples include ATM machine (Automatic Teller Machine machine), EAB bank (European American Bank bank), and the formerly redundant SAT test (Scholastic Achievement/Aptitude/Assessment Test test, now simply SAT Reasoning Test).

Sometimes, the initials are kept but the meaning is changed. SADD, for instance, originally Students against Driving Drunk, changed the full form of its name to Students against Destructive Decisions. YM originally stood for Young Miss, and later Young & Modern, but now stands for simply Your Magazine.

When initialisms are defined in print, especially in the case of industry-specific jargon, the initial letters of the full words are often capitalized. While this is logical for proper nouns, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, some usage writers have argued that it is technically incorrect for other terms, such as storage area network. Such capitalization is widespread in English publications; but "back-capitalization"—from SAN to give Storage Area Network, for example—is considered incorrect.

[edit] Non-English language

[edit] In Hebrew

[edit] People

Acronyms have been widely used in Hebrew since at least the Middle Ages. Several important rabbis are referred to with acronyms of their names. For example, Baal Shem Tov is called the Besht, Rav Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides) is commonly known as Rambam, and Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman (Nahmanides) likewise known as the Ramban.

[edit] Text

The usage of Hebrew acronyms extends to liturgical groupings: the word Tanakh is an acronym for Torah (Five Books of Moses), Nevi'im (Book of Prophets), and Ketuvim (Hagiographa).

Most often, though, one will find use of acronyms as acrostics, in both prayer, poetry (see Piyyut), and kabbalistic works. Because each Hebrew letter also has a numeric value, embedding an acrostic may give an additional layer of meaning to these works.

One purpose of acrostics was as a mnemonic or a way for an author to weave his name as a signature, or some other spiritual thought, into his work, at a time when much was memorized. Examples of prayers which contain acrostics include:

  • Shokhen Ad - Lines are written so that letters line up vertically, spelling the name Yitzchak, which may refer to the patriarch Yitzchak, or to an unknown author.
  • Ashrei - The first letter of every verse starts with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet

It is also a common part of Jewish thought to make inferences based on hidden acrostics. For example the Hebrew words for "man" (he: אישׁ) and "woman" (he: אשׁה) can be used to draw the inference that marriage, the joining of a man and a woman, is a spiritual relationship, because if one removes from each of the words "man" and "woman", one of the letters in the word "God" (he: י-ה), all that is left when "God" is removed from the joining of the two, is the word for destruction (he: אשׁ lit: fire) in place of each.

So much can be interpreted from Hebrew, and attributed to or inferred from it, that an interpretational system, called exegesis, has been developed along these lines.

A special punctuation mark, the gershayim (״), is used to denote acronyms. It is placed before the last letter in the abbrevation (e.g. תנ״ך for Tanakh).

[edit] The Tetragrammaton

Main article: Tetragrammaton

The Greek word tetragrammaton is used as a proper noun to describe the Hebrew spelling of the name of the Abrahamic god, יהוה (commonly transliterated as "YHVH", "YHWH", "Yahweh", or "Jehovah"), which Jews do not speak aloud, and protect when written (see Geniza). Scribes are prohibited from correcting, modifying, or erasing this word, or any series of four words which all begin, or all end, with these letters. Friday-night Shabbat Kiddush begins "Vay'hi Erev, Vay'hi Boker, Yom HaShishi. Vayachulu Hashamayim ..." Even though the first sentence is unnecessary to say, it would be breaking up the Tetragrammaton not to say it. The first four words, then, are completely unnecessary, but omitting them would make the next two words in some sense incomplete. Jews therefore whisper the first four words and say the rest out loud.

[edit] Agglutination

In languages where agglutination extends beyond plurals, various methods are used. A representative example is Finnish, where a colon is used to separate inflection from the letters:

  • An acronym is pronounced as a word: Nato [nato] — Natoon [natoːn] "into Nato"
  • An initialism is pronounced as letters: EU [eː uː] — EU:hun [eː uːhun] "into EU"
  • An initialism is interpreted as words: EU [euroːpan unioni] — EU:iin [euroːpan unioniːn] "into EU"

[edit] Examples

  • pronounced as a word, containing only initial letters:
    • FNMA: (Fannie Mae) Federal National Mortgage Association
    • laser: light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation
    • NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
    • scuba: self-contained underwater breathing apparatus
  • pronounced as a word, containing non-initial letters:
    • Amphetamine: Alpha-methyl-phenethylamine
    • Gestapo: Geheime Staatspolizei ("secret state police")
    • Interpol: International Criminal Police Organization
    • radar: radio detection and ranging
  • pronounced as a word or names of letters, depending on speaker or context:
    • IRA: ([ˈaɪrə] or [aɪ.ɑr.eɪ])
    • 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
    • I18N: Internationalization (18 letters are omitted)
    • 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

[edit] Trivia

The longest acronym, according to the 1965 edition of Acronyms, Initialisms and Abbreviations Dictionary, is ADCOMSUBORDCOMPHIBSPAC, a United States Navy term that stands for "Administrative Command, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet Subordinate Command."

The world's longest initialism, according to the Guinness Book of World Records is NIIOMTPLABOPARMBETZHELBETRABSBOMONIMONKONOTDTEKHSTROMONT (Нииомтплабопармбетзелбетрабсбомонимонконотдтехстромонт). The 56-letter initialism (54 in Cyrillic) is from the Concise Dictionary of Soviet Terminology and means "The laboratory for shuttering, reinforcement, concrete and ferroconcrete operations for composite-monolithic and monolithic constructions of the Department of the Technology of Building-assembly operations of the Scientific Research Institute of the Organization for building mechanization and technical aid of the Academy of Building and Architecture of the USSR."

Sometimes an acronym's official meaning is crafted to fit an acronym that actually means something that sounds less "official". For instance, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb recently developed in the United States is popularly called the "mother of all bombs" since it is the largest conventional bomb in the world; it is widely assumed that the "mother of all wars" phrase was the true inspiration for the MOAB acronym.[citation needed]

[edit] Fictional espionage organizations

During the 1960s trend for action-adventure spy thrillers, it was a common practice for fictional spy organizations or their nemeses to employ names that were acronyms (or more accurately, backronyms). Sometimes these acronyms made sense but most of the time, they were words incongruously crammed together for the mere purpose of obtaining a catchy acronym, traditionally a heroic sounding one for the good guys and an appropriately menacing one for the bad guys. This has become one of the most commonly parodied clichés of the spy thriller genre. They were presumably inspired by SMERSH, which appeared in the James Bond stories and sounded fictional, but really was a branch of Soviet intellligence. These acronyms are often spelled with periods/points/stops to make it clear that they stand for longer terms and are not simply the usual English words that they resemble, even though the punctuation would otherwise seem to indicate that the abbreviations should be pronounced as the names of the individual letters. Among the most popular:

  • A.P.E. and C.H.U.M.P., from Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp (probably the only spy series with an all-chimpanzee cast)
  • CONTROL and KAOS, from the Get Smart television series, are often mistaken for acronyms
  • D.O.O.P. (Democratic Order of Planets), an intentionally silly example in the Futurama television series.
  • E.V.I.L. (Every Villain Is Lemons), an intentionally silly example from the SpongeBob SquarePants television series.
  • F.A.R.T. (Fathers Against Rude Television), a group formed in Futurama to get Bender out of television and off the air due to his influence on children.
  • F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon), in the horror-themed first-person-shooter computer game F.E.A.R..
  • F.I.R.M., from the Airwolf television series
  • F.O.W.L. (Fiendish Organization for World Larceny), in cartoon series, Darkwing Duck
  • G.U.N. (Guardian Unit of Nations), an organization from the Sonic the Hedgehog series who opposed the creation of Shadow and the Biolizard
  • H.A.R.M., from the No One Lives Forever (NOLF) series of computer games, which were released in the 1990s, but were based in 1960s pop culture. What H.A.R.M actually stands for is never revealed, and speculation about its true meaning is the subject of several jokes in both games. (However, in the 1966 spy film Agent for H.A.R.M., it stands for Human Aetiological Relations Machine.)
  • I.C.E. (Intelligence & Counter Espionage), from the Matt Helm series.
  • K.A.B.O.O.M. (Key Atomic Benefits Organization of Mankind), from The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear.
  • M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand), the good mask-wearing cohort from 1980s Saturday-morning cartoon M.A.S.K.
  • P.A.G.A.N. (People against Goodness and Normalcy) from the film Dragnet
  • S.H.A.D.O. (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation) in the Gerry Anderson television series UFO.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. (originally Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law Enforcement Division; later Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage and Logistics Directorate), from the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Marvel comics
  • Shlekht in the Morecambe and Wise film The Intelligence Men
  • SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), from the James Bond series.
  • S.T.E.N.C.H. (Society for the Total Extermination of Non-Conforming Humans) in Carry On Spying.
  • T.H.U.N.D.E.R. (The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves)
  • U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) and T.H.R.U.S.H, from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. (The meaning of T.H.R.U.S.H. was never revealed on the series; but, in the novelizations it was stated to be "Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity".)
  • V.E.N.O.M. (The Vicious, Evil Network of Mayhem), the evil mask-wearing cohort from 1980s Saturday-morning cartoon M.A.S.K.
  • V.I.L.E. (The Villains International League of Evil), Carmen Sandiego's band of international thieves.
  • U.N.I.T. (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) A military organization formed investigate and combat paranormal and extraterrestrial threats to the Earth in the series Doctor Who.
  • W.O.O.H.P. (World Organization of Human Protection), the fictitious organization from Totally Spies!, an animated series on Cartoon Network.
  • SNOBB/S.N.O.B.B. (Stupid Nitwit Overcome By Beauty)

The series Codename: Kids Next Door has used an enormous number of such acronyms.

[edit] See also

[edit] References


[edit] External links

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Acronym and initialism

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