Acronyms, initialisms, and alphabetisms are all words that are formed by combining initial letters or parts of other words for the sake of brevity. Acronyms are designed to be pronounced, while initialisms and alphabetisms are created without regard to pronunciation.

Pronounced as a word, containing only initial letters are such as Laser-light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation, NATO-North Atlantic Treaty Organization, scuba-self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, MEST-matter, energy, space and time. Pronounced as a word, containing non-initial letters are 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 are for example IRA: ([ˈaɪrə] or i ar a) when used for Irish Republican Army, always pronounced as letters; when used for Individual Retirement Account, can be pronounced as letters or as a word-FAQ: ([fæk] or ef a cue) frequently asked questions, SAT-([sæt] or es a tee) Scholastic Achievement (or Aptitude) Test(s), SQL-([siːkwəl] or ess cue ell) Structured Query Language.

Pronounced as a combination of names of letters and a word are for example CD-ROM: (see-dee-[rɒm]) Compact Disc read-only memory, IUPAC: (i-u-[pæk]) International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, JPEG: (jay-[pɛg]) Joint Photographic Experts Group, PDFORRA: (pee-dee-[fɔrə]) Permanent Defence Forces Other Ranks Representative Association.

Pronounced only as the names of letters are such as BBC-British Broadcasting Corporation, DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid, LED: light-emitting diode, USA: United States of America.

Pronounced as the names of letters but with a shortcut are such as AAA- (triple a) American Automobile Association or anti-aircraft artillery or American Arbitration Association, IEEE-(i triple e) Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, NAACP-(en double a cee pee) National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NCAA-(en cee double a or en cee two a or en cee a a) National Collegiate Athletic Association. Shortcut incorporated into name are for example 3M-(three em) originally Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, E³-(e three) Electronic Entertainment Exposition, W3C-(double-u three cee) World Wide Web.

Consortium Recursive acronyms, in which the abbreviation itself is the expansion of one initial are for example GNU-GNUs Not Unix, HURD-HIRD of Unix-Replacing, Daemons, where “HIRD” stands for “HURD of Interfaces Representing Depth”, PHP-PHP Hypertext Preprocessor, VISA: VISA International Service Association, XNA XNA’s Not Acronymed – Microsoft’s new game development framework Multi-layered acronyms are for example JAXA- Java API for XML Binding, i.e. Java Application Programming Interface for eXtensible Markup Language Binding, GTK+- GIMP Tool Kit, i.e. GNU Image Manipulation Program Tool Kit, i.e. GNUs Not Unix Image Manipulation Program Tool Kit, GAIM-GTK+ AOL Instant Messenger, i.e. GIMP Tool Kit America OnLine Instant Messenger, i.e. GNU Image Manipulation Program Tool Kit America OnLine Instant Messenger, i.e. GNU’s Not Unix Image Manipulation Program Tool Kit America OnLine Instant Messenger ,VHDL-VHSIC Hardware Description Language, i.e. Very High Speed Integrated Circuits Hardware Description Language



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