Acronyms: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

Acronyms are abbreviations that are formed using the first letter of each word in a name or phrase, and grouping them together to form a new word. For example, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has the acronym NASA, which is pronounced as the two-syllable word "na-sa" rather than spelling out "n, a, s, a."

You need to use the same capitalization conventions every time you use an acronym in your writing. You can't write NASA one time and N.A.S.A. the next. If you do, your acronym usage isn't consistent.

Here's how to fix your acronym consistency:

  • Locate your acronyms using ProWritingAid's Acronym report
  • Change all inconsistent acronyms to have the same punctuation conventions


An acronym is an abbreviation that's formed from the first letters of a string of words. A good example of an acronym is SCUBA. SCUBA is actually an abbreviation for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, so it's an acronym, not its own word.

Many people use acronyms today, especially when writing online in social media posts. Examples include: * FOMO: Fear of missing out * SWAT: Special weapons and tactics * RADAR: Radio detection and ranging


Another closely related type of abbreviation is the initialism. Again, the first letters of the string are words are used, but this time they are pronounced as individual letters rather than forming a new word.

Here's a list of common initialisms. How many do you recognize?

  • LMK: Let me know

  • IRL: In real life

  • BRB: Be right back

  • ASAP: As soon as possible

  • MIA: Missing in action

  • POW: Prisoner of war

  • UN: United Nations

  • DOB: Date of birth

  • AMA: Against medical advice

  • AKA: Also known as

  • ETA: Estimated time of arrival

Proper Acronym Usage

You should write the full text of an acronym out fully the first time you use it in your text. For instance, you would write:

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided on the case.

After you've introduced the acronym the first time, you can use the capital letters by themselves from then on. Apply the same capitalization conventions when you use the acronym throughout your text.

Common Questions about Acronyms: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

No articles found