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What Is the Difference Between an Abbreviation and an Acronym?

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An abbreviation and an acronym are both shortened versions of something else. Both can
often be represented as a series of letters. Many people are unable to tell the difference
between an abbreviation and an acronym.

Abbreviation vs. Acronym


There is a great deal of overlap between abbreviations and acronyms. Every acronym is an
abbreviation because the acronym is a shortened form of a word or phrase. However, not
every abbreviation is an acronym, since some abbreviations - those made from words - are
not new words formed from the first few letters of a series of words.

Abbreviation
An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase, as N.Y. for New York, Mr. for
Mister, lb for pound or ctn for carton.
There are millions of common abbreviations used every day.
When you write out your address, most people write "St. or Ave." instead of "street" or
"avenue."
When you write the date, you may abbreviate both the day of the week (Mon, Tues., Wed.,
Thurs., Fri., Sat., and Sun.) and the month of the year (Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov.,
Dec.).
There are also tons of industry specific abbreviations that you may be unaware of unless
you are in the industry, such as medical abbreviations or dental abbreviations.
Shortening the word "Avenue" to "Ave." is an abbreviation, because it is the shortened
version of the word. However, it is not an acronym since the word AVE is not a new word
comprised of the first few letters of a phrase.

Acronym
An acronym, technically, must spell out another word. However, this rule isn't always rigidly
enforced:
ASAP is an acronym although the word "asap" is not in many dictionaries. Still, the first
letters of each of the words "As Soon As Possible" are used to form the acronym ASAP.
NY is the acronym for New York. Since this acronym is a shortened version of the phrase,
by definition the acronym is also an abbreviation.
Like abbreviations, acronyms are used daily, and most people can interpret the meaning
of common acroynms without much thought. For example:
You go to the ATM instead of to the automatic teller machine
You give your time zone as EST, CST or PST instead of as Eastern Standard Time, Central
Standard Time or Pacific Standard Time.
You use words like BRB (be right back), LOL (laughing out loud), and ROFL (rolling on floor
laughing) when texting. These new acronyms were derived from computer lingo. All of these
new acronyms are also abbreviations because they are all shortened versions of phrases
that IM-ers were using frequently.
Abbreviations and acronyms are shortened versions of words and phrases to speed up our
communication. Be sure to use them correctly - since, a misuse can lead to a big
miscommunication.

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DEFINITION
acronym
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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An acronym (pronounced AK-ruh-nihm, from Greek acro- in the sense


of extreme or tipand onyma or name) is an abbreviation of several words in
such a way that the abbreviation itself forms a pronounceable word. The word
may already exist or it can be a new word. Webster's cites snafu and radar, two
terms of World War Two vintage, as examples of acronyms that were created.

According to the strictest definition of an acronym, only abbreviations that are


pronounced as words qualify. So by these standards, for example, COBOL is
an acronym because it's pronounced as a word but WHO (World Health
Organization) is not an acronym because the letters in the abbreviation are
pronounced individually. However, opinions differ on what constitutes an
acronym: Merriam-Webster, for example, says that an acronym is just "a word
formed from the initial letters of a multi-word name."

Frequently, acronyms are formed that use existing words (and sometimes the
acronym is invented first and the phrase name represented is designed to fit
the acronym). Here are some examples of acronyms that use existing words:

BASIC (Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code)


NOW (National Organization for Women)
OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information
Standards)

Abbreviations that use the first letter of each word in a phrase are sometimes
referred to as initialisms. Initialisms can be but are not always acronyms.
AT&T, BT, CBS, CNN, IBM, and NBC are initialisms that are not acronyms.
Many acronym lists you'll see are really lists of acronyms and initialisms or just
lists of abbreviations. (Note that abbreviations include shortened words like
"esp." for "especially" as well as shortened phrases.)

Summing up:

An abbreviation is a shortening of a word or a phrase.

An acronym is an abbreviation that forms a word.

An initialism is an abbreviation that uses the first letter of each word in the
phrase (thus, some but not all initialisms are acronyms).

Furthermore:

An acronym so familiar that no one remembers what it stands for is called


an anacronym (For example, few people know that COBOL stands for
Common Business Oriented Language.)

An acronym in which one of the letters stands for the actual word
abbreviated therein is called a recursive acronym. (For example, VISA is
said to stand for VISA International Service Association.)

An acronym in which the short form was original and words made up to
stand for it afterwards is called a backronym. (For example, SOS was
originally chosen as a distress signal because it lent itself well to Morse code.
Long versions, including Save Our Ship and Save our Souls, came later.)

An acronym whose letters spell a word meaningful in the context of the


term it stands for is called an apronym. (For example, BASIC, which stands
for Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code, is a very simple
programming language.)

This was last updated in October 2007 (http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/acronym)


In textspeak, the abbreviation (or initialism) OMG stands for "Oh my God" or "Oh my goodness.".
(Jacquie Boyd/Getty Images)

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-abbreviation-1689046
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by Richard Nordquist

Updated April 18, 2017

An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase, such as Jan. for January. The
abbreviated form of the word abbreviation is abbr.--or, less commonly, abbrv.
or abbrev.

In American English, many abbreviations are followed by a period (Dr., Ms.). In


contrast, British usage generally favors omitting the period (or full stop) in
abbreviations that include the first and last letters of a single word (Dr, Ms).

When an abbreviation appears at the end of a sentence, a single period serves both to
mark the abbreviation and to close the sentence.

Linguist David Crystal notes that abbreviations are "a major component of the English
writing system, not a marginal feature. The largest dictionaries of abbreviations contain
well over half a million entries, and their number is increasing all the time" (Spell It Out,
2014).

See Examples and Observations below.

Acronym
Backronym
Commonly Confused Latin Abbreviations in English
Common Revision Symbols and Abbreviations
Common Scholarly Abbreviations
E.g. and I.e.
Etc. and Et al.
Initialese
Initialism
Logograph

ETYMOLOGY

From the Latin, "short"

EXAMPLES AND OBSERVATIONS

"In general, spell out the names of government bureaus and agencies, well-known
organizations, companies, etc., on first reference. In later references, use short forms
like the agency or the company when possible because handfuls of initials make for
mottled typography and choppy prose."

"Abbreviations may be ironic, humorous, or whimsical: for example, the rail link
between the town of Bedford and the London station of St. Pancras is locally known
as the Bedpan Line; a comparable link for Boston, New York, and Washington is the
Bosnywash circuit. Comments on life may be telescoped into such sardonic packages
as: BOGSAT a Bunch Of Guys Sitting Around a Table (making decisions about other
people); GOMER Get Out of My Emergency Room (said by physicians to
hypochondriacs); MMMBA Miles and Miles of Bloody Africa (an in-group term among
people who have to travel those miles); TGIF Thank God It's Friday (after a particularly
hard working week)."

Abbreves
"Today, the fave (for 'favorite) abbreves are obvi (a shortening of 'Thank you, Captain
Obvious) and belig (a clipping of 'belligerent,' retaining the soft g). Nobody in the young-
barflies crowd orders 'the usual; its the yoozh. My grandnephew Jesse concludes
sentences with whatev, which is probs (for 'probably) 'whatever.' In this cacophony of
abbreves, word endings are scattered all over the floor. Go fig."
Tote-Speak

"You see it on Twitter a lot, people exclaiming about their totes delish spags or
their totes redic boyfs. Linguists Lauren Spradlin and Taylor Jones call
this practice 'totesing'the systematic abbreviation ('abbreviash') of words to
effect a certain tone. The fad might have started with 'totally' becoming totes, but
at this point, no entry in the English lexicon is safe.

The following are some real words produced by real human beings on Twitter:

Totes tradge (tragic): David Bowie dying is totes tradge.


Bluebs (blueberries): Bluebs in yog are my favorite snack.
Totes emosh (emotional): When Cookie hugged Jamal it made me totes
emosh.
iPh (iPhone): OMG I dropped my iPh!
If youre not a millennialand even if you areyou might think
totesing is atrosh and unprofesh. But get used to it. Though no one is quite sure where it
came from, this way of speaking has been around for well over a decade."
Logograms
"'Logograms' . . . play a part in the English writing system: these are cases where
a word is not just shortened, but entirely replaced with a symbol. Examples
include @ for 'at,' for 'pound,' % for 'per cent,' and + for 'plus.' The ampersand,
&, is one of the oldest. It is a collapsed version of the Latin word et, 'and': the
bottom circle is what's left of the e, and the rising tail on the right is what's left of
the t. Numerals are another kind of lopgram: we read 1, 2, 3, etc. as 'one, two,
three...' And it is part of the business of learning to read and write to know when
we should write words in their logographic form and when to spell them out."

PRONUNCIATION

ah-BREE-vee-AY-shun

SOURCES

A. Siegal, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, 1999

Tom McArthur, The Oxford Companion to the English Language, 1992

William Safire, "Abbreve That Template." The New York Times Magazine, May 21,
2009

Jeff Guo, "The Totes Amazesh Way Millennials Are Changing the English
Language." The Washington Post, January 13, 2016

David Crystal, Spell It Out. Picador, 2014


What Is an Acronym?
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The name of the 1970s Swedish pop group ABBA is an acronym derived from the first names of the
group's members: Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Anni-Frid. (RB/Getty Images)

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-acronym-1689058
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by Richard Nordquist
Updated April 11, 2017

An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a name (for example, NATO,
from North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or by combining initial letters of a series of
words (radar, from radio detection and ranging). Adjective: acronymic. Also called
a protogram.

Strictly speaking, says lexicographer John Ayto, an acronym "denotes a


combination pronounced as a word . . . rather than as just a sequence of letters" (A
Century of New Words, 2007).

An anacronym is an acronym (or another initialism) for which the expanded form isn't
widely known or used, such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).

See Examples and Observations below.


Abbreviation
Backronym
Guidelines for Using Capital Letters
Initialese
Initialism
Internet Slang
Mnemonic
Name That -nym
Proper Name
RAS Syndrome
Ten Tips for Using Abbreviations in Formal Writing
Textspeak

ETYMOLOGY

From the Greek, "point" + "name"

EXAMPLES AND OBSERVATIONS

Acronyms and Abbreviations


"The difference between acronyms and abbreviations is this: acronyms are proper
words created from the initial letter or two of the words in a phrase, and they are
pronounced like other words (cf. snafu, radar, laser, or UNESCO). By contrast,
abbreviations do not form proper words, and so they are pronounced as strings of letters,
for example, S.O.B., IOU, U.S.A., MP, lp, or tv."
"I have a couple of lists that I can refer to throughout the day, but I don't have the
official 'FAT' book yet. Yes, it really is called the FAT (Federal Acronym and Terms)
book."

Acronymic Textspeak
"Many acronyms meant to be written have wormed their way into spoken language--
just ask your BFF, or the co-worker who prefaces everything with 'FYI.' Lately, this is
also the case for Internet slang."
NIMBY
NIMBY: from "Not In My Back Yard"--for a person who opposes anything scheduled to
be built near his or her residence

FEMA
"Re-branding FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) doesn't fix the problem;
it just puts a new acronym on it."
The Ancient Roots of Acronymy
"Acronymy has ancient roots, as illustrated by the early Christian use of the Greek
word ichthys meaning 'fish' as an acronym for Isous Christos, Theou Huios,
Str ('Jesus Christ, God's son, Savior'). In English, the first known acronyms (as
opposed to plain old initialisms) cropped up in the telegraphic code developed by Walter
P. Phillips for the United Press Association in 1879. The code abbreviated 'Supreme
Court of the United States' as SCOTUS and 'President of the' as POT, giving way
to POTUS by 1895. Those shorthand labels have lingered in journalistic and diplomatic
circles--now joined by FLOTUS, which of course stands for 'First Lady of the United
States.'"
PRONUNCIATION

AK-ri-nim

SOURCES

Keith Allan and Kate Burridge, Euphemism and Dysphemism. Oxford University Press,
1991

Douglas Quenqua, "Alphabet Soup." The New York Times, September 23, 2011

David Marin

Ben Zimmer, "On Language: Acronym." The New York Times Magazine, December 19,
2010
backronym (words)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms


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Initially named for Amber Hagerman, a nine-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered, AMBER
Alert is a backronym for "America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.". (Alex Wong/Gewtty
Images)
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by Richard Nordquist

Updated June 28, 2017

DEFINITION

A backronym is a reverse acronym: an expression that has been formed from the
letters of an existing word or name. Alternate spelling: bacronym. Also known as
an apronym or reverse acronymy.

Examples include SAD ("Seasonal Affective Disorder"), MADD ("Mothers Against


Drunk Driving"), ZIP code ("Zone Improvement Plan"), and USA PATRIOT
Act ("Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to
Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism").

The word backronym is a blend of "backward" and "acronym." According to Paul


Dickson in Family Words (1998), the term was created by "Meredith G. Williams of
Potomac, Maryland, to cover the likes of GEORGE (Georgetown Environmentalists
Organization against Rats, Garbage, and Emissions) and NOISE (Neighbors Opposed to
Irritating Sound Emissions)."

See Examples and Observations below. Also see:

Back-Formation
Folk Etymology
Initialism
Introduction to Etymology: Word Histories
Mnemonic
Name That -nym: A Brief Introduction to Words and Names
Neologism

EXAMPLES AND OBSERVATIONS

"SOS is an example of a backronym, with people claiming it stands for 'save our ship'
or 'save our souls'--when, in fact, it doesn't stand for anything."
(Mitchell Symons, Where Do Nudists Keep Their Hankies? HarperCollins, 2007)
Antonyms and Backronyms
"This particular kind of etymological myth--the after-the-fact association of a word with
a phrase--has become so common that it has acquired a whimsical name: backronym.
The difference is timing: which came first, the phrase or the word? Scuba, for example, is
a true acronym, evolved from 'self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.' Golf, on
the other hand--contrary to widely circulated myth--does not stand for 'Gentlemen Only,
Ladies Forbidden." That's a backronym. Other backronyms wrongly believed to be actual
etymologies include 'Constable on Patrol' and 'For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.'"
(James E. Clapp, Elizabeth G. Thornburg, Marc Galanter, and Fred R. Shapiro, Lawtalk:
The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions. Yale University Press, 2011)

ACHOO
"Some people, like me, inherit a genetic oddity that causes them to sneeze when
confronted by bright light. I'm afraid this syndrome has been given the overly cute
acronym of ACHOO (autosomol dominant compelling helio-ophthalmic outburst)."
(Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses. Vintage Books, 1990)

COLBERT
"What do you do when you're NASA and comedian Stephen Colbert wins your contest to
name the new wing for the International Space Station? You name an orbital exercise
machine after him.

"The Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT,


is expected to keep astronauts in shape.

"With the help of a legion of fans, Colbert got the most votes in the space agency's online
poll soliciting names for Node 3, which will be called Tranquility after the Sea of
Tranquility, where Apollo 11 landed on the moon."
("NASA Names Cosmic Treadmill After Colbert." CNN Entertainment, April 15, 2009)
SHERLOCK and RALPH
"Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle have a society called Sherlock Holmes Enthusiastic
Readers League of Criminal Knowledge, or SHERLOCK, a creative, if
strained, backronym. In 1982, admirers of comedian Jackie Gleason organized the
Royal Association for the Longevity and Preservation of the Honeymooners, or RALPH,
which happens to be the first name of Gleason's TV character, Ralph Cramden."
(Chrysti M. Smith, Verbivore's Feast, Second Course: More Word & Phrase Origins.
Farcountry Press, 2006)
Cabal
"The backronym cabal was formed from the names of five ministers of King Charles II.
The ministers, Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale, were at the
bottom of various political intrigues in the early 1670s. According to history, these five,
plus others, defaulted on the national debt by closing the exchequer in 1670, started a
war with Holland in 1672, and entered into an alliance with the hated French in 1673.
The English use of the word cabalto mean a group of conspirators predates the nefarious
schemes of these five men by at least 25 years."
(David Wilton, Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends. Oxford University
Press, 2009)

Perl
"Perl is a word that has backronyms. Various expansions attributed to the letters in
Perl were invented after the programming language was named. Practical Extraction and
Report Language is a popular backronym for Perl. A less gracious backronym is
Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister."
(Jules J. Berman, Perl Programming for Medicine and Biology. Jones & Bartlett, 2007)

Pronunciation: BAK-ri-nim

Alternate Spellings: bacronym

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-backronym-words-1689016
back-formation (words)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms


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" Burgle (back-formed from burglar) continues to have a jocular effect (in AmE)," says Bryan Garner, "as
do effuse, emote, laze, and the learned word metamorphose" ( Garner's Modern American Usage, 2009).
(Image Source/Getty Images)
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by Richard Nordquist

Updated April 25, 2017

In linguistics, back-formation is the process of forming a new word (a neologism) by


removing actual or supposed affixes from another word. Put simply, a back-formation is
a shortened word (such as edit) created from a longer word (editor). Verb: back-
form (which is itself a back-formation). Also called back-derivation.

The term back-formation was coined by Scottish lexicographer James Murray, the
primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary from 1879 until 1915.

As Huddleston and Pullum have noted, "There is nothing in the forms themselves that
enables one to distinguish between affixation and back-formation: it's a matter of
historical formation of words rather than of their structure" (A Student's Introduction
To English Grammar, 2005).
EXAMPLES AND OBSERVATIONS

singular noun pea from the older English plural pease


the verb burgle from the older English noun burglar
the verb diagnose from the older English noun diagnosis
"He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually
disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled, so I tactfully changed the subject."
(P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters, 1938)
"Here I was maybe forty minutes ago, sort of claustrophobed in the gap between the
kickass movie world where Lila dumps the guy with the smarmy mustache and the
obvious one where it just keeps getting later."
(Daniel Handler, Adverbs. Ecco, 2006)

"Stripping the in- from inchoate is known as back-formation, the same process that
has given us words like peeve (from peevish), surveil (from surveillance)
and enthuse (from enthusiasm). Theres a long linguistic tradition of removing parts of
words that look like prefixes and suffixes to come up with 'roots' that werent there to
begin with."
(Ben Zimmer, "Choate." The New York Times, January 3, 2010)

SUFFIX SNIPPING

"Alan Prince studied a girl who . . . was delighted by her discovery


that eats and cats were really eat + -s and cat + -s. She used her new suffix snipper to
derive mik (mix), upstair, downstair, clo (clothes), len (lens), brefek (from brefeks, her
word for breakfast), trappy (trapeze), even Santa Claw. Another child, overhearing his
mother say they had booze in the house, asked what a 'boo' was. One seven-year-old said
of a sports match, 'I don't care who they're going to verse,' from expressions like the Red
Sox versus the Yankees." (Steven Pinker, Words and Rules: The Ingredients of
Language. HarperCollins, 1999)
"In many cases of back-formation a presumed affix is removed which is in fact not
truly an affix, as in the following words where the -or, -ar, and -er are not the agentive
suffix, but part of the root: orator - -er> orate, lecher + -er> lech, peddler + -er> peddle,
escalator + -er> escalate, editor + -er> edit, swindle + -er> swindle, sculptor + -
er> sculpt, hawker + -er> hawk. These mistakes are called back-formations. Note
that some of them are colloquial or marginal, while others are fully accepted." (Laurel J.
Brinton, The Structure of Modern English: A Linguistic Introduction. John Benjamins,
2000)

BACK-FORMATION IN MIDDLE ENGLISH

"[T]he weakening of the flexional endings during the early Middle English period, which
made possible the derivation from verbs of a multitude of nouns, and vice-versa, was
also an essential to the rise of and development of back-formation." (Esko V.
Pennanen, Contributions to the Study of Back-Formation in English, 1966)

BACK-FORMATION IN CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH


"Back formation continues to make a few contributions to the
language. Televisionhas given televise on the model of revise/revision,
and donation has given donate on the model of relate/relation. Babysitter and stage
manager have given babysit and stage manage for obvious reasons. More remote was
the surprising lase from laser(the latter an acronym for 'lightwave amplification by
stimulated emission of radiation'), recorded from 1966." (W.F.

Bolton, A Living Language: The History and Structure of English. Random House,
1982)

FILLING A VOID

"Backformations are more likely to occur with very strongly entrenched patterns and
they have the effect of filling an apparent void. The process has given us common verbs
such
as afflict (from affliction), enthuse (from enthusiasm), laze (from lazy), liaise from liais
on), aggress (from aggression), televise (from television), housekeep(from housekeeper
), jell (from jelly), and many more." (Kate Burridge, Gift of the Gob: Morsels of English
Language History. HarperCollins Australia, 2011)

USAGE

"[B]ack-formations are objectionable when they are merely needless variations of


already existing verbs:

back-formed verb - ordinary verb


*administrate - administer
*cohabitate - cohabit
*delimitate - delimit
*interpretate - interpret
*orientate - orient
*registrate - register
*remediate - remedy
*revolute - revolt
*solicitate-solicit

Many back-formations never gain real legitimacy (e.g., *elocute, *enthuse), some are
aborted early in their existence (e.g., *ebullit, *evolute), and still others are of
questionable vigor (e.g., aggress, attrit, effulge, evanesce, frivol). . . .

"Still, many examples have survived respectably."


(Bryan Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage, 3rd ed. Oxford University Press,
2009)

Pronunciation: BAK for-MAY-shun

https://www.thoughtco.com/back-formation-words-1689154
Word Formation: Coinages, Nonce Words, Borrowing, and
Calquing
written by: Heather Marie Kosur edited by: Tricia Goss updated: 1/17/2012

Creating new words in English, covers the related word formation processes of coinages, nonce words, borrowing, and calquing.

Coinages
Coinage is the word formation process in which a new word is created either deliberately or accidentally without using the other
word formation processes and often from seemingly nothing. For example, the following list of words provides some common
coinages found in everyday English:
aspirin
escalator
heroin
band-aid
factoid
Frisbee
Google
kerosene
Kleenex
Laundromat
linoleum
muggle
nylon
psychedelic
quark
Xerox
zipper
Notice that many coinages start out as brand names for everyday items such as Kleenex for a facial tissue. Coinages are also
referred to simply as neologisms, the word neologism meaning "new word."

Nonce Words
Nonce words are new words formed through any number of word formation processes with the resulting word meeting a lexical
need that is not expected to recur. Nonce words are created for the nonce, the term for the nonce meaning "for a single occasion."
For example, the follow list of words provides some nonce words with definitions as identified in the Oxford English Dictionary.
cotton-wool to stuff or close (the ears) with cotton-wool.
jabberwock The name of the fabulous monster in Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky. Hence in allusive and extended
uses, especially "incoherent or nonsensical expression." So jabberwocky is invented language, meaningless language,
nonsensical behavior; also nonsensical, meaningless, topsy-turvy.
touch-me-not-ishness having a "touch-me-not" character; stand-off-ish.
twi-thought an indistinct or vague thought.
witchcraftical The practices of a witch or witches; the exercise of supernatural power supposed to be possessed by persons
in league with the devil or evil spirits. Power or influence like that of a magician; bewitching or fascinating attraction or
charm.
Note that although most nonce words come in and out of use very quickly, some nonce words catch on and become everyday
words. For example, Lewis Carroll coined the word chortle, a blend of chuckle and snort, for the poem Jabberwocky in the
book Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There; unlike most nonce words, however, chortle has gained
acceptance as a legitimate blended word.

Borrowing
Borrowing is the word formation process in which a word from one language is borrowed directly into another language. For
example, the following common English words are borrowed from foreign languages:
algebra Arabic
bagel Yiddish
cherub Hebrew
chow mein Chinese
fjord Norwegian
galore Irish
haiku Japanese
kielbasa Polish
murder French
near Sanskrit
paprika Hungarian
pizza Italian
smorgasbord Swedish
tamale Spanish
yo-yo Tagalog
Borrowed words are also referred to as loanwords.

Calquing
Calquing is the word formation process in which a borrowed word or phrase is translated from one language to another. For
example, the following common English words are calqued from foreign languages:

beer garden German Biergarten


blue-blood Spanish sangre azul
commonplace Latin locus commnis
flea market French march aux puces
free verse French vers libre
loanword German Lehnwort
long time no see Chinese ho ji bu jin
pineapple Dutch pijnappel
scapegoat Hebrew ez ozel
wisdom tooth Latin dns sapientiae
Calques are also referred to as root-for-root or word-for-word translations.
Word Formation: Coinages, Nonce Words, Borrowing, and
Calquing
written by: Heather Marie Kosur edited by: Tricia Goss updated: 1/17/2012

Creating new words in English, covers the related word formation processes of coinages, nonce words, borrowing, and calquing.

Coinages
Coinage is the word formation process in which a new word is created either deliberately or accidentally without using the other
word formation processes and often from seemingly nothing. For example, the following list of words provides some common
coinages found in everyday English:
aspirin
escalator
heroin
band-aid
factoid
Frisbee
Google
kerosene
Kleenex
Laundromat
linoleum
muggle
nylon
psychedelic
quark
Xerox
zipper
Notice that many coinages start out as brand names for everyday items such as Kleenex for a facial tissue. Coinages are also
referred to simply as neologisms, the word neologism meaning "new word."

Nonce Words
Nonce words are new words formed through any number of word formation processes with the resulting word meeting a lexical
need that is not expected to recur. Nonce words are created for the nonce, the term for the nonce meaning "for a single occasion."
For example, the follow list of words provides some nonce words with definitions as identified in the Oxford English Dictionary.
cotton-wool to stuff or close (the ears) with cotton-wool.
jabberwock The name of the fabulous monster in Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky. Hence in allusive and extended
uses, especially "incoherent or nonsensical expression." So jabberwocky is invented language, meaningless language,
nonsensical behavior; also nonsensical, meaningless, topsy-turvy.
touch-me-not-ishness having a "touch-me-not" character; stand-off-ish.
twi-thought an indistinct or vague thought.
witchcraftical The practices of a witch or witches; the exercise of supernatural power supposed to be possessed by persons
in league with the devil or evil spirits. Power or influence like that of a magician; bewitching or fascinating attraction or
charm.
Note that although most nonce words come in and out of use very quickly, some nonce words catch on and become everyday
words. For example, Lewis Carroll coined the word chortle, a blend of chuckle and snort, for the poem Jabberwocky in the
book Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There; unlike most nonce words, however, chortle has gained
acceptance as a legitimate blended word.

Borrowing
Borrowing is the word formation process in which a word from one language is borrowed directly into another language. For
example, the following common English words are borrowed from foreign languages:
algebra Arabic
bagel Yiddish
cherub Hebrew
chow mein Chinese
fjord Norwegian
galore Irish
haiku Japanese
kielbasa Polish
murder French
near Sanskrit
paprika Hungarian
pizza Italian
smorgasbord Swedish
tamale Spanish
yo-yo Tagalog
Borrowed words are also referred to as loanwords.

Calquing
Calquing is the word formation process in which a borrowed word or phrase is translated from one language to another. For
example, the following common English words are calqued from foreign languages:

beer garden German Biergarten


blue-blood Spanish sangre azul
commonplace Latin locus commnis
flea market French march aux puces
free verse French vers libre
loanword German Lehnwort
long time no see Chinese ho ji bu jin
pineapple Dutch pijnappel
scapegoat Hebrew ez ozel
wisdom tooth Latin dns sapientiae
Calques are also referred to as root-for-root or word-for-word translations.
Abbreviations and Acronyms for English Learners
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English Grammar
by Kenneth Beare
Updated July 28, 2017

Any shortened form of a word or phrase is an abbreviation. Acronyms are also a type of
abbreviation that can be pronounced as a single word.

Abbreviations are selectively used in spoken conversation as well as written English.


Generally, common abbreviations such as measurements and titles are always
abbreviated in written form. However, days and months are commonly written out.
Online, abbreviations and acronyms are most common in texting, chat rooms and in
SMS.

In spoken English, we often use abbreviations in informal conversations. A good rule of


thumb is to use abbreviations and acronyms that you know others are familiar with, and
avoid them when they are too specific.

For example, if you are having a conversation with a business colleague it may be
appropriate to use abbreviations particular to your line of work. However, the use of
work-related abbreviations would be out of place if speaking with friends. Here is a
guide to some of the most common abbreviations.

TITLES

One of the most common types of abbreviations is the shortened word. Either the first
few letters of a word or important letters in the word are used for this type of
abbreviation. Common abbreviations include titles used in everyday conversation, as
well as military ranks:

Mr. - Mister
Mrs. - Mistress
Ms.
Dr. - Doctor
Jr. - Junior
Sr. - Senior
Capt. - Captain
Comdr. - Commander
Col. - Colonel

Gen. - General
Hon. - the Honorable
Lt. - Lieutenant
Rev. - the Reverend

Other common abbreviations include:

MONTHS OF THE YEAR

Jan. - January
Feb. - February
Mar. - March
Apr. - April
Aug. - August
Sept. - September
Oct. - October
Nov. - November
Dec. - December
DAYS OF THE WEEK

Mon. - Monday
Tues. - Tuesday
Wed. - Wednesday

Thurs. - Thursday
Fri. - Friday
Sat. - Saturday
Sun. - Sunday

WEIGHT AND VOLUME

gal. - gallon
lb - pound
oz - ounce
pt - pint
qt - quart
wt. - weight
vol. - volume

TIME
hr - hour
min - minute
sec - second

LENGTH - US/UK

in. - inch
ft - foot
mi - mile
yd - yard

MEASURES IN METRICS

kg - kilogram
km - kilometer
m - meter
mg - milligram
mm - millimeter

INITIAL LETTER ABBREVIATIONS

Initial letter abbreviations take the first letter of each important word in a short phrase
to make up the abbreviation. Prepositions are usually left out of initial letter
abbreviations. One of the most common initial letter abbreviations is the USA - United
States of America. Notice how the preposition 'of' is left out of this abbreviation.
Other common initial letter abbreviations include:

DIRECTIONS
N - North
S - South
E - East
W - West
NE - Northeast
NW - Northwest
SE - Southeast
SW - Southwest

IMPORTANT INSTITUTIONS
BBC - British Broadcasting Corporation
EU - European Union
IRS - Internal Revenue Service
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization
UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund
WHO - World Health Organization

TYPES OF MEASUREMENT

MPH - Miles per hour


RPM - Revolutions per minute
Btu - British thermal units

F - Fahrenheit
C - Celsius

SMS, TEXTING, CHAT

Many abbreviations are used online and in our daily lives with smartphones, chat
rooms, etc. Here are a few, but follow the links for a complete list in alphabetical order.

B4N - Bye for now


ASAP - As soon as possible
NP - No problem
TIC - Tongue in cheek

WHAT ARE ACRONYMS?

Acronyms are initial letter abbreviations that are pronounced as one word. To take the
examples from above, the BBC is NOT an acronym because it is pronounced as it is
spelled: the B - B - C. However, NATO is an acronym because it is pronounced as one
word. ASAP is another acronym, but ATM is not.
TIPS FOR USING ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS

Use abbreviations when texting by learning common texting abbreviations


Use acronyms as a mnemonic device to help you learn a wider range of vocabulary. In
other words, take a list of words you want to learn and memorize the first letters of each
word you want to learn. For example: Primary Colors: RBY--red , blue , yellow

Use abbreviations when writing quick emails in an informal voice


Do not use abbreviations or when writing formal emails, reports or letters except for
common organization names
For more uncommon acronyms, use the entire name followed by the acronym in
parentheses the first time you use the acronym in written communications. For
example: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is responsible for loaning money to
nations. As the world experiences more economic difficulties, the role of the IMF is often
called into question.

https://www.thoughtco.com/abbreviations-and-acronyms-for-english-learners-1212308

Initialism

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms


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BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is an example of an initialism. BBC


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by Richard Nordquist

Updated April 04, 2017

An initialism is an abbreviation that consists of the first letter or letters of words in a


phrase, such as EU (for European Union) and NFL (for National Football League). Also
called an alphabetism.

Initialisms are usually shown in capital letters, without spaces or periods between
them. Unlike acronyms, initialisms are not spoken as words; they are spoken letter by
letter.

EXAMPLES AND OBSERVATIONS

ABC (American Broadcasting Company, Australian Broadcasting


Corporation), ATM (Automatic Teller Machine), BBC (British Broadcasting
Corporation), CBC(Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), CNN (Cable News
Network), DVD(Digital Versatile Disc), HTML (HyperText Markup
Language), IBM(International Business Machines Corporation), NBC (National
Broadcasting Company)

Some names that began as initialisms have evolved into brands independent of their
original meanings. For example, CBS, the American radio and television network, was
created in 1928 as the Columbia Broadcasting System. In 1974, the name of the company
was legally changed to CBS, Inc., and in the late 1990s it became CBS Corporation.

Similarly, the letters in the names SAT and ACT no longer represent anything. Originally
known as the Scholastic Achievement Test, the SAT became an Aptitude Test in 1941 and
an Assessment Test in 1990. Finally, in 1994, the name was officially changed to SAT (or,
in full, SAT Reasoning Test), with the letters signifying nothing. Two years later,
American College Testing followed suit and changed the name of its test to ACT.

INITIALISMS AND ACRONYMS

"My favorite current acronym is the DUMP, a term universally used in Durham, New
Hampshire to refer to a local supermarket with the unwittingly unfortunate name 'the
Durham Market Place.'

"Initialisms are similar to acronyms in that they are composed from the first letters of
a phrase, but unlike acronyms, they are pronounced as a series of letters.

So most people in the US refer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the FBI . . ..
Other initialisms are PTA for Parent Teacher Association, PR for either 'public relations'
or 'personal record,' and NCAA for National College Athletic Association."
(Rochelle Lieber, Introducing Morphology. Cambridge University Press, 2010)

"[S]ometimes a letter in an initialism is formed not, as the term might imply, from an
initial letter but rather from an initial sound (as the X in XML, for extensible markup
language), or from the application of a number (W3C, for World Wide Web
Consortium). Furthermore, an acronym and an initialism are occasionally combined
(JPEG), and the line between initialism and acronym is not always clear (FAQ, which
can be pronounced either as a word or as a series of letters)."
(The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. The University of Chicago Press, 2010)

CD-ROM

"CD-ROM is an interesting mix, because it brings together an initialism (CD) and an


acronym (ROM). The first part is sounded letter by letter, the second part is a whole
word."
(David Crystal, The Story of English in 100 Words. St. Martin's Press, 2012)

USAGE
"The first time an acronym or initialism appears in a written work, write the complete
term, followed by an abbreviated form in parentheses. Thereafter, you may use the
acronym or initialism alone."
(G. J. Alred, C. T. Brusaw, and W. E. Oliu, Handbook of Technical Writing, 6th ed.
Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000

AWOL

"In AWOL--All Wrong Old Laddiebuck, an animated film by Charles Bowers, a woman
presents her calling card to a soldier and it reads 'Miss Awol.' She then lures him away
from camp without permission.

The film is silent, of course, given the 1919 date, but the calling card indicates
that AWOL is pronounced as a word, making it a true acronym and not just
an initialism."
(David Wilton and Ivan Brunetti, Word Myths. Oxford University Press, 2004)

Pronunciation: i-NISH-i-liz-em

Etymology
From the Latin, "beginning"

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-an-initialism-p2-1691172