Acronyms and abbreviations

Acronyms and abbreviations have always been a hobbyhorse of mine. Too many publications use them almost randomly without bothering to define. I suspect I’ve been guilty of that on occasion, but I try not to slip up. I was reading a thesis the other day that had so many acronyms and abbreviations without definition that I felt like failing the candidate there and then. Of course, I didn’t, it wasn’t my call.

If you’re looking for chemical and technical definitions then there are a couple of excellent acronym and abbreviation lookup services you can access, I’ll leave it to you to Google them…indeed, I think Google has a built in define acronym search logic.

4 thoughts on “Acronyms and abbreviations”

  1. I’m sure there are millions of 2nd and 3rd order acronyms and abbreviations out there. There are also a whole range of tautological acronyms and abbreviations, such as “PIN number”, “PDF format”, “TIFF format” and many others. It’s the kind of thing that used to provide our bread and butter on the back page (Feedback) section of New Scientist.

    Anyone got any more interesting variations on the theme that they would care to share? Maybe I should run a competition to find the first genuine fourth order abbreviation…

  2. Second order acronyms (and abbreviations) are fun to watch for. Anything with L for laser, N for NASA, etc. NEM for NAAQS Exposure Model, for example, is pretty obscure to me. I only recall one probable TOAA (third order acronyms and abbreviations), but I’d bet there are some more out there. (CPMP= CEMI Participative Managment Program [CEMI= Cominco Electronic Materials Inc. {Cominco= Commonwealth Mining Co.}])

  3. Well, yes, you’re right, and I did know that, of course, just not the best edited of items, thanks for picking it up.

  4. Considering it’s a hobby horse of yours, you should be a bit more clued-up about it. Acronyms and abbreviations are not the same thing. Acronyms form a special subset of abbreviations; acronyms make words. So, HSN is an abbreviation, not an acronym. NATO, radar, quango, and FACT are all acronyms.

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