Most social media users are familiar with acronyms, and backronyms, or at least with the usage of these two. Not only for the internet, but we also use acronyms frequently in writing, speaking, texting, and most notably, short-hand writing.
What is an acronym?
At first glance, an acronym might look like a combination of initials (or, first letters) of contextually related words. But it’s best to call these types of combinations initialisms rather than acronyms.
Then what is the acronym?
An acronym is a comparatively pronounceable word that might be a combination of initials or a part of a phrase.
One of the most recognizable English acronyms is probably “WWW” which stands for “World Wide Web”.
Types of acronyms
There are two types of acronyms – formal and casual.
Formal acronyms are used in formal documents. Usually, you will notice that formal acronyms are written in capital letters and followed by their full forms in parentheses.
Some examples of formal acronyms in the English language:
BCC (Bling Carbon Copy)
ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival)
FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations)
HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act)
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
PTO (Please Turn Over)
UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund)
Casual acronyms are used in more informal situations such as in casual, semi-casual texting, speeches, and writing.
Most of the time, there won’t be any explanation of these casual acronyms since these words are usually written while keeping in mind that the audience already knows the meaning of the acronym.
Some examples of casual acronyms in the English language:
FYI – For your information
IMO – In my opinion
IKR – I know right
IDC – I don’t care
ILY – I love you
IMHO – In my humble opinion
LOL – Laughing out loud
MSG – message
MFW – My face when
MRW – My reaction when
TTYL – Talk to you later
What is a backronym?
A backronym is a phrase made out of an existing and meaningful word. Backronyms are usually used as a tagline or in a humorous way.
Examples of backronyms:
PIN – Personal Identification Number
RADAR – Radio Detection And Ranging
SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder
ZIP – Zone Improvement Plan
Why do people use acronyms?
To express one’s feelings/opinion within limited words/characters
Since the popular social media platform, Twitter allows 280 characters per tweet, many Twitter users have found themselves in word limit restrictions. As a solution, they use acronyms to express their opinions and feelings within a word limit. Check character count here.
To hide the content meaning
People often use acronyms as a form of secret code to hide the real meaning from the unwanted audience.
Children, especially teenagers use acronyms while interacting with their friends to hide their content’s meaning from their parent’s watchful eyes.
People have become relatively lazy these days and they use acronyms to save their time and energy while expressing themselves.
To make something easily pronounceable
Some phrases are long and harder to pronounce, especially if you have to repeat the phrases frequently. Acronyms provide a great solution to use these phrases by giving a short and easily pronounceable form.
In journalism and taking class notes
While taking lots of information within a short time, either you can write at a very fast speed, or use acronyms to write easily. In the journalism profession, or in taking class notes, people apply the usage of acronyms to note information easily and quickly.