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acronym vs initialism

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I thought that TLAs (Three Letter acronyms) were things like CEO etc. but in fact most are initialisms (horrible word!).

Apparently an acronym is

- a type of abbreviation

- word formed from the initial parts (letters OR syllables OR arbitrary parts) of a name.

Examples: NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation)


An initialism is

- a type of abbreviation

- group of initial letters used as an abbreviation for a name or expression, each letter being pronounced separately.

For example, "BBC" (British Broadcasting Corporation), or "PBS" (Public Broadcasting System).


The key difference between an acronym and an initialism is that an acronym forms a new word, while an initalism does not.


Is there another word for inititialism ? - I vaguely recall hearing this distinction before but I'm sure it had a more satisfying name than 'inititialism'



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What annoys me more is when journalists seem unable to write acronyms or abbreviations correctly. One paper (mentioning no names but.... DM) now seems to go out of its way to do this, just to annoy readers. Nasa instead of NASA, Darpa instead of DARPA, Unesco instead of UNESCO, you get the drift. Even the BBC got it wrong last week with Nasa - when I pointed it out to them, their response was "it's a social media thing"... No it's not, it's sheer bl***y ignorance and/or laziness. :wall::wall:

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