Acronym

This week’s language term, acronym, likes to keep it short. Oh, he can explain to you what lies behind him, but much rather he gives you the summary. Then we all have time for something else.

Definition

An acronym is an abbreviation made up of the first letters of a number of other words.

We distinguish two types of acronyms:

  1. If you pronounce an acronym letter by letter (think of apkand UWV), you call it an initial word.
  2. If you pronounce an acronym as an ordinary word (as with NATOand vip), you call it an acronym.

(A small reminder with the examples above: apk stands for general periodic inspection; UWV stands for Employee Insurance Implementing Institute; NATO stands for N orth A tlantic T reaties organization; and vip stands for v ery important person.)

This is a broad definition of acronym, and I think the most useful. But there are also language sources who think that only an acronym is a “true” acronym, and that initial words fall into a different category.

Even if you do think of initial words as acronyms, you can go one step further and say that a “pure” acronym should only consist of the initial letters of individual words. According to this stricter definition, KLM ( Koninklijke L uchtvaart Maatschappij ) would therefore not be an acronym, because the l and the m come from one word.

But again, I think it’s more useful to think of acronyms as a category of abbreviations that include both acronyms and initials.

Examples

  • aids(van: acquired immune deficiency syndrome)
  • havo(from : higher general secondary education )
  • YOLO(van: you only live once)
  • ANWB(from: General N ederlandsche W ielrijders- B ond )
  • dvd (van: digital video disc)
  • pabo(from: pedagogical academy for primary education )

NB! So a word like HIV is an acronym if you pronounce it rhyming with rif, but an initial word if you pronounce it as “ha-ie-vee”.

Etymology

This is a young word. It originated in the mid-twentieth century in American English, as an acronym. The Dutch variant soon followed. The ingredients come from the Greek:

  • acro– (highest point, top, end) + onoma (name)

Even more shapes

Another question regarding the definition of acronym is whether an acronym may only consist of the very first letter of each word. In that case, for example, Benelux ( België Netherlands Luxembourg ), which is a syllable word, would not be an acronym. The same applies to catering ( ho tel re staurant ca ) .

But according to a broader definition, such terms do also count as acronyms, in addition to acronyms and initial words.

Yet another question is what to do with “in-between words” such as prepositions. In an abbreviation like UvA ( U niversiteit van A msterdam ), all words count. But, for example, for PABO (above) and laser, these have not been taken into account: the words by and or in “ light amplification by stimulated e mission of r adiationare not included in the abbreviation. Nevertheless, laser is a textbook example of an acronym.

Finally, there are also mixed forms, such as BOVAG ( Bo nd van A utomobielhandels en Garagehouders ), which are even more difficult to classify. Here you can see that the first two letters of Bond have been used, that the preposition of is also included in the abbreviation, that only the first letter has been used with Automobile Dealers and Garage Owners, and that the word and has been omitted completely.

So you see elements of a syllable word and an acronym mixed up here, and a mix of including and not including intermediate words. But I would also say here that BOVAG is an (unusually compound) acronym.

50 States of the USA

Recent Posts

  • Sveti Stefan, Montenegro Sveti Stefan, Montenegro - Life sometimes turns in an amazing way, not only for people, but also for geographical objects. So a small fishing village on the island has [...]
  • Salen, Sweden Salen, Sweden - Salen is the largest ski center in Sweden, ideal for families with children (more than 80% of family tourists are recruited here during the season). [...]
  • External Hard Drive Everything about External Hard Drive - Hard disks (known in some countries as rigid disks) are computer elements that allow the storage of data that computers (computers) take advantage of during [...]
  • Greatest Common Divisor Everything about Divisor - Divisor, from the Latin divisor, is a quantity by which another is divided. The integer r is divisible by an integer s if the result [...]
  • Nevada Flag Map Nevada – The Silver State - Nicknamed “The silver state”, Nevada is the 7th largest state in the USA by surface area. This area is largely desert. In addition to Las [...]
  • Nebraska Flag Map Nebraska – The Cornhusker State - Nebraska is located in the center of the United States and, thanks to its location, has been a transit state for travelers between the east [...]
  • Montana Flag Map Montana – The Treasure State - With its unparalleled nature and rich history, Montana is a very cool destination to visit. The state is located in the north of the United [...]
  • Missouri Flag Map Missouri – The Show Me State - Missouri is a medium-sized state in the central United States. The area was already inhabited 7,000 years ago, and became part of the American states [...]
  • Mississippi Flag Map Mississippi – The Magnolia State - Mississippi is the state that often calls itself the birthplace of American music. Elvis Presley was born in the small state in the southern United [...]
  • Minnesota Flag Map Minnesota – The North Star State - Minnesota is right on the border with Canada, in the north center of the United States. The state has many beautiful landscapes, and is known [...]