Browse Definitions :
Definition

anacronym

An anacronym is an acronym or an abbreviation so old or familiar that no one remembers what its letters stand for, such as BASIC or COBOL . By the way, an "acronym" is not just any abbreviation. It's a word that is short for other words, usually using their initial letters. An abbreviation formed of letters that don't form a word is sometimes known as an "initialism." Our Webster's cites "snafu" and "radar" as examples of acronyms. (Good examples of anacronyms, too!) But "snafu" and " radar " seem like acronyms that have passed into general usage (notice the all lower case). Most of today's acronyms are still all upper case; only a few will ever become generic. An example of an acronym that probably won't become lower-cased is WINS (Windows Internet Naming Service).

The Webster's definition does raise a question (and begs one, too). Is the "word" an acronym forms a real, already existing word, or intended to be accepted as a new "word," or just something easily pronounceable? If the first case, then "snafu" and "radar" really aren't acronyms. If the second or third case, they are. However, since any initialism can be thought of as a word and certainly has to be pronounceable so you can say it out loud, one could argue that any initialism is an acronym. We don't think anyone has looked at this issue squarely (and we're not planning to ourselves, but just wanted to demonstrate the ambiguous kind of world we live in...which is why most people frankly don't care whether an acronym is a word or not).

But getting back to anacronyms, they seem to be forming at an alarming rate. Do you remember what this mixture of acronyms and initialisms stand for?

This was last updated in September 2005

SearchCompliance

  • compliance risk

    Compliance risk is an organization's potential exposure to legal penalties, financial forfeiture and material loss, resulting ...

  • information governance

    Information governance is a holistic approach to managing corporate information by implementing processes, roles, controls and ...

  • enterprise document management (EDM)

    Enterprise document management (EDM) is a strategy for overseeing an organization's paper and electronic documents so they can be...

SearchSecurity

  • user authentication

    User authentication verifies the identity of a user attempting to gain access to a network or computing resource by authorizing a...

  • unified threat management (UTM)

    Unified threat management (UTM) describes an information security (infosec) system that provides a single point of protection ...

  • physical security

    Physical security is the protection of personnel, hardware, software, networks and data from physical actions and events that ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • risk mitigation

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • call tree

    A call tree is a layered hierarchical communication model that is used to notify specific individuals of an event and coordinate ...

  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

    Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide ...

SearchStorage

  • cloud storage

    Cloud storage is a service model in which data is transmitted and stored on remote storage systems, where it is maintained, ...

  • cloud testing

    Cloud testing is the process of using the cloud computing resources of a third-party service provider to test software ...

  • storage virtualization

    Storage virtualization is the pooling of physical storage from multiple storage devices into what appears to be a single storage ...

Close