Word curio icon

Word Curio

February 13, 2020

Word of the Day: Acronym

1 CQ

Word of the Day : May 5, 2017

acronym \AK-ruh-nim\ noun


: a word (such as NATO, radar, or laser) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term; also : an abbreviation (such as FBI) formed from initial letters : initialism


The new committee spent a fair amount of time choosing a name that would lend itself to an appealing acronym.

"For now, the Regional Acceleration and Mentoring Program—which goes by the acronym RAMP—looks like an average office space on the third floor of the old Gill Memorial Hospital Building in downtown Roanoke, complete with separate rooms for five companies, shared meeting areas and a kitchen." — Jacob Demmitt, The Roanoke (Virginia) Times, 17 Mar. 2017

Did You Know?

Acronym was created by combining acr- ("beginning" or "top") with -onym ("name" or "word"). You may recognize -onym in other familiar English words, such as pseudonym and synonym. English speakers borrowed -onym from the Greek onyma ("name") and acr- from the Greek akros (meaning "topmost, extreme"). When acronym first entered English, some usage commentators decreed that it should refer to combinations of initial letters that were pronounced as if they were whole words (such as radar and scuba), differentiated from an initialism, which is spoken by pronouncing the component letters (as in FBI and CEO). These days, however, that distinction is largely lost, and acronym is a common label for both types of abbreviation.

Aired May 5, 2017

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max