Acronym vs. Initialization

March 14, 2007

Like most people I suspect, I didn't know the difference between an acronym and an initialization until quite recently.

An acronym is a series of letters pronounced as a word. An initialization is a series of letters pronounced as individual letters.

For example, ANSI, the American National Standards Institute, is pronounced "an-see." But AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, is pronounced "aigh-aigh-are-pee."

Now you know.

Updated: November 2, 2016. Floyd Jasinski wrote me and explained that my selection of AARP as the initialization example was incorrect as it is pronounced as a word, sounding a bit like "harp". He suggests that FCC, pronounced “eff-see-see" would be a better example.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.