Acronym vs. Abbreviation (and is HTTP a word?)

I already have an answer for myself, I just want to see if there are others (besides some misinformed souls I recently discussed this with) that disagree with my (correct :wink:) understanding.

OK, I’ll start with some examples. Would you call words (or whatever you want to call them) like HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol), LOL (laugh out loud), OMG (oh my god), FTP (File Transfer Protocol), etc. Acronyms or Abbreviations?

(correct answer is acronym of course)

When I think of abbreviation I think of words like ft. (foot), Dr. (Doctor), mil. (military) or something like that.

I think think Zeus defines and points out the confusions quite clearly (click the link to see where the confusions are).

[quote=“Zeus”][url=]An abbreviation is merely a shortened form of a word or phrase and is created by omitting some of the letters. For example,

HTTP is an acronym.

Maybe it’s something else but given the two choices of abbrev. or acronym, it is the latter.

Hear! Hear! Stamp it out before it multiiplies! Coining a new word is the ‘initial’ step of a would be language fascist.

All acronyms are abbreviations. Not all abreviations are acronyms.



HTTP is not a word. It stands for words, but it’s not a word itself. It might’ve stood a chance at evolving into a word if it was actually pronouncable as such and not as a series of letters.

Oh, and I guess an acronym could be considered a kind of abbreviation, but I’d seperate the two myself.


Hey, I don’t think it’s unacceptable as a part of English or anything, I just don’t think it’s a word, since you can only say it as a string of letters not a coherent whole.

It is a word as defined by all definitions of word I’ve seen thus far. By that definition SCUBA wouldn’t be a word either (because it stands for words). HTTP is pronounceable.

Ima take my DVDs, CDs and LMNOPs and do as I please.

(Ima is an abbreviation. DVDs and CDs are acronyms and I don’t know what the hell LMNOPs is, but I like it :slight_smile:)


[quote=“Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary”]Main Entry: DVD
Pronunciation: “dE-(”)vE-'dE
Function: noun
Etymology: digital video disc
: a high-capacity optical disk format; also : an optical disk using such a format and containing especially a video recording (as a movie) or computer data

[quote=“Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary”]Main Entry: HTML
Pronunciation: “Ach-(”)tE-(")em-'el
Function: noun
Etymology: hypertext markup language
: a markup language that is a subset of SGML and is used to create hypertext and hypermedia documents on the World Wide Web incorporating text, graphics, sound, video, and hyperlinks

Is that game, set, match? It does list HTTP and some other as being abbreviations, but I think they’re just being sloppy. If I were to put HTTP in an abbrev group, I’d choose the acronym one. I can understand that for some HTTP is not a word, but it definitely is for me (like CD and DVD is for everyone in this day and age).

I’m a firm believer that edumacation and ridicumalous are words.

Ok ok, fine. I’ll accept recredumous too. If you can please define it, MTK.

[quote=“914”]I’m a firm believer that edumacation and ridicumalous are words.

Ok ok, fine. I’ll accept recredumous too. If you can please define it, MTK.[/quote]
I believe the proper spelling is recrudgumous. The definition of recrudgumous can not be transmitted in written form. It can only be acquired through a guide or master who is highly skilled in the art.

I always thought - and I’m no longer convinced I was right - that an acronym was a pronouncable word made up from the letters, whereas an abbreviation may be the first letters but not make a word.

So acronym is a subset of abbreviation, being those abbreviations that can be spoken as a word. Under this system HTTP would be considered an abbreviation, and NASA would be an acronym.

I looked it up in my Oxford, and their definitions seemed to support Miltown Kid. But then they went and said that “e.g.” is an abbreviation, as is “HT” (for High Tension) Sorry, they didn’t have HTTP. But they did list NASA and NATO as both being abbreviations too.

In fact, I couldn’t find anything listed as an acronym. This really pisses me off. Here we are, arguing about the rules, and the bloody dictionary doesn’t respect them.

I looked up “nasa” at - it’s an abbreviation, but it’s also listed as an acronym. So is HTTP. :unamused:

I give up.

What’s the name for a bunch of letters from somewhere that can be pronounced as a word, if it’s not acronym?

I believe, Miltown, it is time to play the Collins hand.

Mnemonics are real fun acronyms, too.

I relied on them to get me through high school and university because, you know, studying was like, hard.

Gosh, getting an edumacation was a drag.

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.

[quote=“the Collins Cobuild dictionary”]“An acronym is a word composed of the first letters of the words in a phrase, especially [note that it does NOT say only] when this is used as a name.”


“An abbreviation is a short form of a word or phrase, made by leaving out some of the letters or by using only the first letter of each word.”[/quote]

Yeah, but you can actually say “SCUBA” as though it wasn’t an acronym. Try and do that with HTTP. That’s the difference, far as I’m concerned. Both are equally valid additions to the language, but of a difference sort.

“Ima” is a contraction actually, I think. I’m pretty sure “abbreviation” as a category would cover contractions, acronyms, mnemonics, and the “traditional” abbreviation.

so it begins

This from the man who didn’t believe that mong was a word :stuck_out_tongue:

carson71 in another forum wrote:

Ok, someone else uses edumacated. For sure it’s an official word in my books now.