[ ak-ruh-nim ]
/ ˈæk rə nɪm /


a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words and pronounced as a separate word, as Wac from Women's Army Corps, OPEC from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or loran from long-range navigation.
a set of initials representing a name, organization, or the like, with each letter pronounced separately; an initialism.

verb (used with object)

to make an acronym of: The committee's name has been acronymed MIKE.

Origin of acronym

First recorded in 1940–45; acr- + -onym

Related forms

ac·ro·nym·ic, a·cron·y·mous [uh-kron-uh-muh s] /əˈkrɒn ə məs/, adjectiveac·ro·nym·i·cal·ly, adverb

Can be confused

abbreviation acronym initialism

Grammar note Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for acronymous


/ (ˈækrənɪm) /


a pronounceable name made up of a series of initial letters or parts of words; for example, UNESCO for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization

Derived Forms

acronymic or acronymous (əˈkrɒnɪməs), adjective

Word Origin for acronym

C20: from acro- + -onym
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Culture definitions for acronymous


[ (ak-ruh-nim) ]

A word formed by combining the beginning letters of a name or phrase, as in WASP for white Anglo-Saxon Protestant, or by combining the initial syllables of a series of words, as in radar, which stands for radio detecting and ranging.


Acronyms are often less clumsy than the complete expressions they represent and are easier to write and remember.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.