The Difference Between An Initialism And An Acronym

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the-difference-between-initialism-acronym-fiThe Difference Between An Initialism And An Acronym

Initialisms and an acronyms are often confused, not so much that one is mistaken for another, but rather that initialisms aren’t usually named at all.

To many, every series of letters (that function as initials) are called “acronyms.” The distinction, while primarily an academic distinction, has become a bit more relevant in the age of texting and social media. New language and phrasing is injected on an almost daily basis into our vernacular. LOL, OMG, and IDK are paired with “fails,” “YouTubers,” and “trolls” to give us new characters to communicate with.

With this upheaval and chaos in mind, falling back on rules of language can help us properly classify new ideas so that, you know, we can continue to actually understand one another.

The Difference Between An Initialism And An Acronym

The difference between an initialism and an acronym is simple: The latter makes a word you can say, while the former does not. Some examples?

5 Examples of Initialisms

  • NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
  • NFL (National Football League)
  • CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)
  • SAT (formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test–since changed))
  • ACT (formerly American College Testing–since changed)

5 Exampled of Acronyms

  • NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
  • Laser (Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation)
  • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
  • OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries)
  • Scuba (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus)

The Difference Between An Initialism And An Acronym

  • anon

    There is a slight error in the article. “The latter makes a word you can say, while the latter does not.” It should say “The latter makes a word you can say, while the former does not.”