ASAP is an acronym and an initialism. An acronym is an abbreviation that is formed by taking the initial letters of the words in a phrase and creating a new word that is pronounceable. Examples of acronyms are UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Sometimes, acronyms are used so often they become words. Examples of words that were once acronyms are radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging) and scuba (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). The word acronym is not as old as you might think. It first appears in the 1940s, coined from the Greek word akron, which means end, and onuma, meaning name. Although acronyms are technically initialisms, we usually use this term to describe initial-letter abbreviations that are pronounced as letters rather than words—for example, CEO, a.k.a., FBI, r.p.m., and USA. The trend with initialisms is away from using periods, although many publications use periods when the original words are uncapitalized (e.g., r.p.m. from rotations per minute, and e.g. from the Latin loan phrase exempli gratia). Because ASAP can be pronounced as a word or stated as a series of letters, it is considered both an acronym and an initialism. We will look at the meaning of the word ASAP, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

ASAP means right away, without delay, or at once. ASAP stands for as soon as possible. The expression ASAP came into use in the military, first, and made its way into everyday language in the 1950s; it became quite popular in everyday use in the 1970s. Today, ASAP is often seen in business correspondence. The term ASAP is almost always rendered with capital letters, though it is sometimes seen lowercased, as in asap.


The musician just posted yet another fire ‘fit to Instagram, and we’re ready to replicate it ASAP. (Teen Vogue)

So if you see something that you want, nab it ASAP. (Forbes Magazine)

“We need the plan for Buncrana up and running and we need it asap.” (Derry Journal)

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