Definition - A word formed from the first letters of other words and pronounced as one word.
Note: This is in contrast to an initialism, which is a word also formed from the first letters of other words, but whose letters are pronounced separately, as in BBC (bee - bee - cee).

Example -

(1) NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
(2) LASER (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation)

Etymology -

According to Fischer and Roswitha in Lexical change in present-day English (1998), the word was coined in 1943 by Bell Laboratories.
Ultimately, it derives from the Greek akros, tip or end + the English combining form onym, name.

Oxford English Dictionary -
Its first citation is from 1943:
"Words made up of the initial letters or syllables of other words … I have seen … called by the name acronym."

Note: Acronyms were initially called protograms, a term whose first OED citation is from 1924.
(Amer. N. & Q. Feb. 167/1 )


1. Two of my favorite acronyms are TLA (three letter acronym) and AFLA (another four letter acronym).
(Norby Fleisig)

2. No, no, no, Norby Fleisig! TLA & AFLA are not acronyms. They are a different type of abbreviation: initialisms. Please re-read the definition & help stem the spread of this mis-use. Wikipedia says of "TLA": "Most three-letter abbreviations are initialisms: all the letters are pronounced as the names of letters, as in APA.... Very few fit the strict definition of acronym, which requires the abbreviation to be pronounced as a single word, as in DOS."
(Jeff Perris, California)

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