Difference between Abbreviation, Acronym, and Initialism

Difference between Abbreviation, Acronym, and Initialism

abbreviation acronym and initialism

What is the difference between an abbreviation, acronym, and initialism?

Many people become confused when they come to know that there is significant difference between abbreviation, acronym and initialism. However, acronym and initialism are the sub types of abbreviations.

Abbreviations, acronym, and initialisms are ways to shorten word, phrases and ideas. We make abbreviations in two ways generally:

1.    Firstly, we shorten a single multi-syllable word e.g. Dr. for doctor, exam for examination, Oct for October etc.

2.    Secondly, we shorten a short phrase, a sentence or multiple words to form up a new single word e.g. NASA from National Aeronautical and Space Administration or AIDS  from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

 

Now we will discuss that how we form up an abbreviation, acronym and initialism.

What is an Abbreviation?

An abbreviation is a way to shorten a long word. There is no specific rule to make an abbreviation. Sometimes, we use initial letters of a long word to make an abbreviation e.g. ave for avenue, sometimes we choose first and last letters e.g. dr. for doctor, and sometime we choose random letters e.g. kg for kilogram.

 Here are some abbreviation examples:

·         Dr. is an abbreviation for a long word “doctor”

·         Nov is an abbreviation for a long word “November”

·         Gym is an abbreviation for a long word “gymnasium”

·         Lab is an abbreviation for a long word “laboratory”

·         Photo is an abbreviation for a long word “photograph”

·         Exam is an abbreviation for a long word “examination”

 

What is an Acronym?

An acronym is a type of abbreviation that form up a new word by shortening a phrase and combining the first letter (or letters) of each word in the phrase. Main thing to remember is that, acronym are pronounceable words e.g. ROFL will be pronounced as single word: [roffle].

Here are some acronym examples:

·         NASA is pronounced as a single word instead of individual letters and its each letter stands for: National Aeronautical and Space Administration.

·         FOMO is pronounced as a single word instead of individual letters and its each letter stands for: Fear Of Missing Out

·         LASER is pronounced as a single word instead of individual letters and its each letter stands for: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation

·         NATO is pronounced as a single word instead of individual letters and its each letter stands for: North Atlantic Treaty Organization

·         OPEC is pronounced as a single word instead of individual letters and its each letter stands for: Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries

·         RADAR is pronounced as a single word instead of individual letters and its each letter stands for: Radio Detection And Ranging.

 

What is an Initialism?

An initialism is also a sub type of abbreviation. It looks similar to an acronym in its forming structure but not exactly same. Initialisms, like acronyms, also use the first letter of each word in the phrase or sentence, but instead of combining the letters to form a new word, we pronounce each letter individually.

Example of initialism:

VIP pronounced as individual letters separately i.e. V.I.P. and its each letter stands for: Very Important Person

Below are few more examples:

·         DVD: Digital Versatile Disc

·         ATM: Automatic Teller Machine

·         AM:  Ante Meridiem

·         PM: Post Meridiem

·         USA: United States of America

·         CIA: Central Intelligence Agency

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