Abbreviations, Acronyms and Initialisms

last update: 17 May 2020

Quiz trivia will alway include questions about
abbreviations and acronyms (in which they also include initialisms).

Abbreviations are shortened forms of words of phrases, e.g.
Abbreviations can be syllabic, e.g. International and Police making Interpol, SoHo from South of Houston Street in New York, …
Classical Abbreviations, Medieval Abbreviations, Early Abbreviations (pre-1913), and more generally Lists of Abbreviations (and the Wiki-Categories).
In addition there is SMS language which is a mix of abbreviations and

Acronyms are words or names formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase, e.g. NATO or NASA.
List of Acronyms, Three-Letter Acronyms, Government and Military Acronyms, US Government and Military Acronyms, and US Navy Acronyms.

Initialisms are a type of acronym consisting of the initial letters pronounced separately, e.g. BBC is an abbreviation pronounced one letter at a time.

There are also
contractions that are just written or spoken words where letters or sounds have been omitted. In English this mostly involves replacing a vowel with an apostrophe as in let's as a contraction of let us, and I'm as a contraction of I am.

Clipping is a different thing, it's just the shortening of words, such as:-
Apocope is the loss of the end of a word, e.g. photograph become photo, public house becomes pub, and memorandum becomes memo
Apheresis is the loss of the beginning of a word, e.g. it is becomes 'tis, amend becomes mend, because becomes 'cause
Syncope is the loss of the middle of a word, e.g. did not becomes didn't, or even I would have becomes I'd've
There are also some '
clipped compound' words such as motel for motor+hotel, and Benelux for Belgium + Netherlands + Luxembourg.
Check our
English Clippings.

More general there are quite a number of
compound words in English, which is not the same thing as adding a prefix or suffix.
Some examples of
compound words are… blackbird, breakfast, corkscrew, darkroom, footpath, pickpocket, railway, skyscraper, smalltalk, windmill …

There are
hybrid words which in English are often words joined to Latin and Greek parts, and thus many will include prefixes and suffixes. Examples range from automobile, beatnik (with -nik coming for Russian)
However, there is also a whole world of science-related words created with
prefixes such as aero-, bio-, crypto-,… or with suffixes such as -graphy, -logy, and -therapy.

And we also have so-called
portmanteau words which is a blend of words. Portmanteau words are the sounds from multiple words combined to make a new word, e.g. smoke and fog make smog, and motor and hotel make motel. See List of Portmanteaus Words.

One form of abbreviation often ignored is the
nickname, e.g. Margaret becomes Greta, Elizabeth becomes Liz, people become known by their initials (DJ, JFK). The Wikipedia entry for nickname points to a variety of lists of sporting or royal nicknames.


Bit - binary digit
Pixel - picture element


AIDS - Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
BASIC - Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code
Free Carrier (where the purchaser pays the transport, etc., as opposed to Ex Works where the seller player for all the delivery costs)
GIF - Graphics Interchange Format
LASER - Light Amplification by Stimulation Emission of Radiation
NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
POTUS - President Of The United States
RADAR - RAdio Detection And Ranging
SCUBA - Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus
SIM - Subscriber Identification Module
TASER - Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle
ZIP - Zone Improvement Plan


A/C - Air Conditioning
AKA - Also Known As
ATM - Automated Teller Machine
All-Terrain Vehicles
BRB - Be Right Back
DNF - Did Not Find (or Did Not Finish)

DYKWIA - Do You Know Who I Am!
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
FYI - For Your Information
HMWI - High Net Worth Individual
IANAL - I Am Not A Lawyer
IDK - I Don't Know
IMO - In My Opinion (IMHO - In My Humble Opinion)
IRL - In Real Life
LCD - Liquid Crystal Display
LED - Light Emitting Diode
LGBT - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender
NFL - National Football League
PDF - Please Don't Forget
Source Lines of Code
SWMBO - She Who Must Be Obeyed
TMI - Too Much Information
UCLA - University for Caucasians Lost among Asians
UFO - Unidentified Flying Object
WFH - Working From Home