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"Acronym" vs. "initialism"

July 24th, 2008 (02:49 pm)
current mood: puzzled

Some people say "acronym" should be reserved for abbreviations that are pronounced as words; the general term is "initialism". (Personally, I see the distinction, but don't care; they're all acronyms to me.) So "DOD" and "radar" are both initialisms, but only "radar" is an acronym. I don't know a term for initialisms like "DOD", where you just say the letters; call it a fred.

So something just occurred to me: what about "CPAP" (pronounced "see-pap")? It's not a fred, because you pronounce the "PAP" part as a word; but it's not quite an acronym, because you're pronouncing the first letter as a letter.

Comments

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: July 24th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)

I don't know about you, but I prounounce it See-Pap. Although CPAP is only one tiny stroke of the pen away from CRAP, I'm sure you don't want that on your face.

Posted by: Hey You (martianfencer)
Posted at: July 25th, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC)

Everyone says "Kleenex" when they mean "facial tissue," too.

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