What Is an Acronym? – Definition & List of Examples

Welcome to the bustling, fascinating, and often humorous world of acronyms. From LOL to POTUS, we encounter these linguistic gems on a daily basis. But have you ever wondered what they mean, how they came to be, or even how to use them properly? Well, sit tight because you’re about to get a crash course on what acronyms really are.

What Is an Acronym?

What Is an Acronym Definition List of Examples 1

An acronym is simply a term made up of the initial letters of a whole phrase or a group of words. It’s like taking a pinch of each ingredient and creating a whole new recipe. The beauty of acronyms is that they compress lengthy expressions into short, bite-sized pieces that are easy to remember. Now that’s a linguistic marvel!

The Purpose of Acronyms

Acronyms serve a whole bunch of purposes. Mainly, they provide a shortcut in communication, saving us the effort of saying or writing long phrases. They’re like your favorite shortcut in a busy city, getting you straight to the destination.

Should Acronyms Be Punctuated?

Most modern style guides recommend not using periods in acronyms. The reason is simple—acronyms are meant to simplify, not complicate. So, remember, keep it clean, keep it simple, no periods.

However, it’s important to consult the relevant style guide or follow the conventions of the specific context to ensure consistent and accurate use of punctuation with acronyms.

Common Acronym Examples

Let’s uncover some of the most common acronyms so you really understand the phrase or meaning behind them with this list of acronyms you might have seen once or twice. There’s even an acronym for laser!


Laugh out loud


National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Oh my God


President of the United States


As soon as possible


For your information


Do it yourself


Rest in peace


Very important person


Répondez s’il vous plaît (French for “Please respond”)


Unidentified flying object


Be right back


Frequently asked question


Best friends forever


Automated teller machine


Personal identification number


RAdio Detection And Ranging


Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus


Estimated time of arrival


Subscriber identity module


Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation

This is just a few examples of acronyms that are currently used around the world. 

Types of Acronyms

There are two main types of acronyms: initialism and acronym. An initialism is when each letter is pronounced individually, like BBC or ATM. An acronym, in a stricter sense, is when the letters create a new word, like NASA or SCUBA.

How to Pronounce Acronym

Easy peasy! Just break it up like this: ak-crow-nim.

Proper Usage of Acronyms

When first using an acronym in a piece of writing, spell out the full phrase, then follow it up with the acronym in parentheses. After that, feel free to use the acronym alone. Here, I’ll show you an example.

  • ETA (estimated time of arrival)

Etymology of Acronyms

The term acronym comes from the Greek words “akros,” meaning “end,” and “onym,” which means “name.” It was first used in the English language in the 1940s.

How to Use Acronyms in a Sentence

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Here are ten examples showing how you can use popular acronyms in sentences.

  • I laughed so hard at Ted’s joke that I nearly fell off my chair, so I texted him “LOL.”
  • The NASA rover has sent fascinating images from Mars, proving that there’s actually an atmosphere there.
  • “OMG, I can’t believe she won the lottery!” she exclaimed.
  • The POTUS delivered his speech on the environment yesterday.
  • “Could you send the report ASAP?” my manager asked.
  • “FYI, the meeting has been rescheduled to tomorrow,” Karen noted, so I took the rest of the day off.
  • I’m a big DIY project gal and try to do one every weekend.
  • “RIP, you will be missed,” she wrote in her tribute to her late grandfather.
  • The VIP guests were seated in the auditorium’s front row and the high balconies extending above the entire stage.
  • Please RSVP to our wedding invitation by the end of this week so I can get a proper head count for the dinner service.

Acronyms Are Awesome!

And that’s a wrap on my whirlwind tour of the vibrant world of acronyms! They’re more than just letters thrown together. They’re linguistic shortcuts that make communication faster, simpler, and, dare we say, more fun. So, the next time you LOL at a joke, remember you’re participating in a long-standing wordy tradition.

More Acronyms!