[thechat] Not acronyms, not abbreviations, but. . . ?

seb potter seb at getfrank.com
Mon May 19 12:15:06 CDT 2003

>>And abbreviations are words that have been shortened
>>in one way or other.
>No, they'd be acronyms if they're pronounceable as words.
Yep, abbreviations are words that have been shortened.

Acronyms are pronouncable words that stand for something, such as JANET 
for Joint Academic Network.

>>But what about when just the initial letters are
>>strung together resulting it something mostly
>>like PDA? ATM? etc. Is there a word for these?

PDA and ATM are initialisms, as they use the first letter of each word 
and are not, in the normal sense, pronouncable as words. Abbreviations 
are when a word is shortened through common use, such as Net for the 
Internet or Modem for modulation/demodulation .

Acronyms and Initialisms are universally uppercase, and contain no 
punctuation, with the exception of those used for country names 
("U.S.A") and more recently those used for company names ("BSkyB") (How 
company names are represented through logos and branding is separate to 
the legal definition of its name.) Abbreviations should follow normal 
grammatical rules for capitalisation and punctuation as regards proper 

Abbreviations with punctuation in them are contractions, but that's a 
whole 'nuther story. ;-)


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