Acronyms v Initialisms

Just so you know… if you reduce a series of words to initials and pronounce them as a word it’s an acronym, and if you pronounce each letter individually it’s an initialism.

So when I write a headline using an acronym it’s your job to read it as a word so that you get the pun.

Ironically, TLA the popular “acronym” for three letter acronyms isn’t an acronym, it’s an initialism. 

Thanks. That is all.

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Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the pastor of City South Presbyterian Church, a church in Brisbane, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus. If you'd like to support his writing financially you can do that by giving to his church.

5 thoughts on “Acronyms v Initialisms”

  1. oh so that means when i say AFL = affel. IGA = eye-ga. i am converting initialisms to accronyms.

  2. While technically you may be correct (and I’ll know you’ll take that as conceding defeat) surely the meaning has changed sufficiently that initialism is a dead word. What do you think?

  3. I don’t know that it’s a dead word. The fact that Office doesn’t recognise a word doesn’t make it dead… They are two quite separate concepts and have distinct meanings and applications. They also have a huge role to play in the art of punning.

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