Re: Acronyms vs Abbreviations - was: New tool on Accessify - Acronym Generator

from the dictionary:

1. A word formed from the initial letters of a name, such as WAC for Women's
Army Corps, or by combining initial letters or parts of a series of words,
such as radar for radio detecting and ranging.
2. n : a word formed from the initial letters of a multi-word name
3. An identifier formed from some of the letters (often
the initials) of a phrase and used as an abbreviation.

noun forms;
1. A shortened form of a word or phrase used chiefly in writing to represent
the complete form, such as Mass. for Massachusetts or USMC for United States
Marine Corps.
2. The form to which a word or phrase is reduced by contraction and
omission; a letter or letters, standing for a word or phrase of which they
are a part;
as, Gen. for Genesis; U.S.A. for United States of America.

There is a lot more at:
and I know it is only english probably usa in scope but it leads us to the
conclusion that there is a distinction between the two being the intent and
end result is that in the case of acronym, something pleasing sounding be
formed from the reduction and in the case of abbreviation, that we shorten
it no matter what it sounds like.  For instance, in the case of General
Services Administration, The abbreviated form is GSA even though it is not
necessarily pleasing sounding,  could be called an acronym correctly but in
the case of other short forms, in part, depending on the origin of the parts
of the form.  I'd imagine we need a tool for deciding what is an acronym and
what is an abbreviation if we were to persue this with any muscle but for
now, it appears that if we follow the simple rules guided by the examples
above in the dictionary entries, we should be fairly capable of sorting this

So, I ask, What is the difference in the end result o using either bit of
mark up and if none that is sugnificant, since the objective is to get the
long form of either out, why not reduce it to one tag and call it

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lauke PH" <>
To: <>
Cc: "Ian Lloyd (" <>
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2003 5:33 AM
Subject: Acronyms vs Abbreviations - was: New tool on Accessify - Acronym

Ian's definition on

>An abbreviation is just that - a string of words that have been
>reduced to their initial leading letters. When you read it out,
>you naturally pronounce each letter individually.
>NSPCC pronounced "Enn Ess Pee See See"
>RNIB pronounced "Arr Enn Eye Bee"
>An acronym is a special kind of abbreviation. Either by luck or
>design, the initial letters make up an abbreviation that can be
>read aloud as a word in its own right:
>NASA pronounced "Nassa"
>GUI pronounced "Gooey"

I'm not a scholar of semantics, but I'm not entirely sure if
this would be the right distinction to make. I've always understood
"acronym" to be anything formed from the initial letters of a
multi-word name/sentence (so, even NSPCC & RNIB would be acronyms)
and "abbreviation" to denote anything that represents a shortened
form for a word (e.g. MCR for Manchester, Lancs for Lancashire,
etc for et cetera, and so on...including acronyms as a special
subset of abbreviations as well). the definition of - and the line between - acronym and
abbreviation blurred, or is it just me ?

Patrick H. Lauke
Webmaster / University of Salford

Received on Wednesday, 23 April 2003 07:18:25 UTC