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By Judy Vorfeld

What are the Differences Between Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Initialisms?

Have you ever been con­fused about the dif­fer­ences between abbre­vi­a­tions, acronyms, and Initialisms? You’re not alone!

An ABBREVIATION is a short­ened form of a writ­ten word or phrase used in place of the whole word. Some author­i­ties con­sider acronyms and ini­tialisms to be abbreviations.

An ACRONYM is a word (such as radar or snafu or NASDAQ) formed from the ini­tial let­ter or first few let­ters of a word or a series of words (exam­ple: radar comes from radio detect­ing and ranging).

Acronyms are pro­nounced as com­plete words.

An INITIALISM is an acronym formed from ini­tial let­ters (NYSE, AFL-CIO, NAACP, IRSSEC).

Initialisms are prou­nounced let­ter by letter.


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