acronym

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abbreviation

abbreviation, in writing, arbitrary shortening of a word, usually by cutting off letters from the end, as in U.S. and Gen. (General). Contraction serves the same purpose but is understood strictly to be the shortening of a word by cutting out letters in the middle, the omission sometimes being indicated by an apostrophe, as in the word don't. Most abbreviations are followed by a period. Usage, however, differs widely, and recently omission of periods has become common, as in NATO and UN. Acronyms are combinations of the first letters/syllables in a group of words to form a new grouping of letters that can be pronounced as a word. A period is never used when apostrophes appear. A list of abbreviations used in this encyclopedia may be found in the prefatory matter.
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acronym

(jargon)
An identifier formed from some of the letters (often the initials) of a phrase and used as an abbreviation. This dictionary contains a great many acronyms; see the contents page for a list.

See also TLA.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)

acronym

A word typically made up of the first letters of two or more words; for example, BASIC stands for "Beginners All purpose Symbolic Instruction Code." Artificial intelligence is "AI." The computer industry is loaded with acronyms, and technicians love using them to the consternation of non-computer people.

If only the first letters of the words are used, the term is technically an "initialism," but this distinction is hardly ever made. Letters within a word and contiguous letters are widely used; for example, XML means "eXtensible Markup Language and MP4 stands for MPEG4. For an excellent acronym resource, visit www.acronymfinder.com. For the mother of all acronyms, see TLA. See backronym.
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