Cleaning house physically, emotionally, and mentally.

I is for Initialism

This post is part of the A-to-Z Challenge.

An initialism is a word composed of the initial letter of more than one word and the letters are pronounced separately. This is different from an acronym that is pronounced as a word. Examples:

  • USA
  • FBI
  • HIV
  • BYOB

With the use of texting and sometimes a limit on the number of characters allowed in a message, initialism has taken off.


And just to be a bit pretentious, some initialisms suffer from RAS syndrome. That’s Redundant Acronym Syndrome syndrome where a word in the acronym or initialism is used again in the phrase. Examples:

  • ATM machine – automatic teller machine machine
  • PIN number – personal identification number number

I love RAS syndrome examples; they make me LOL laugh.


Comments on: "I is for Initialism" (6)

  1. My cube-mate and I are CONSTANTLY teaching this to people. So nice to find someone else who knows the diff between acronyms and initialisms.

  2. I used to live near D.C.–the land that invented acronyms (or should be, at least). No one said the full name of anything!

  3. This made me LOL out loud. Back in my programming days, IBM was a great one for acronyms. Sometimes you’d have no idea what it stood for, e.g. TSO/SPF (Time-Sharing Option, Structured Programming Facility). It made reading their documentation an adventure.

    • I do some work for software developers. Everything is an acronym or Initialism. One day I received an email that was 90% acronyms. And the bad/sad part was that I knew exactly what they meant.

  4. It was fun learning about RAS Syndrome! I can’t wait to try it out on my boys!

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