Abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms

Many of us may have been introduced to a new company only to find that we don’t understand the language of its people; or of our new job… due to the many acronyms! And interestingly, long-standing employees often are not exactly sure what those acronyms mean….

Others, me included, find ourselves at times a little lost when faced with the evolving language of text and tech, in which case the acronym finder (which claims to be the world’s largest and most comprehensive dictionary of abbreviations and acronyms) can be handy.

Here are some current rules of the road.

  • Abbreviations that are formed by using the first initials of separate words should not have any full stops after the letters: OPQ, US, UK, PJM
  • Acronym: this is a word, like radar or UNICEF, not a set of initials, like the ABC or FBI.
  • Write out years not yrs, even if part of a quote.
  • Make an acronym or abbreviation plural by adding an s (no apostrophe), for example OPQs, WSQs.
  • Spell out any unfamiliar abbreviations and acronyms at first mention, with the abbreviation immediately following in brackets, for example: Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ). When mentioning again later in the same document, use the abbreviation only.
  • Abbreviate the names of days as follows (note the full stops):

Sun.      Mon.     Tues.    Wed.     Thurs.   Fri.        Sat.

  • Abbreviate the months as follows:

Jan.      Feb.      Mar.      Apr.      Aug.      Sept.     Oct.      Nov.      Dec.

May, June and July should not be shortened.



via Acronym and initialism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In 1943, David Davis of Bell Laboratories coined the term acronym as the name for a word created from the first letters of each word in a series of words (such as sonar, created from sound navigation and ranging).

Although the term acronym is widely used to describe any abbreviation formed from initial letters, most dictionaries define acronym to mean “a word” in its original sense,  while some include a secondary indication of usage, attributing to acronym the same meaning as that of initialism. According to the primary definition found in most dictionaries, acronyms examples include, NATO, scuba , and radar, while examples of initialisms would include FBI and HTML.

There is no agreement on what to call abbreviations whose pronunciation involves the combination of letter names and words, such as JPEG and MS-DOS.

The term for the word-by-word reconstruction of an acronym or initialism is an expansion.

And finally some definitions…

WWW: World Wide Wait

DOS: Defective Operating System

CD-ROM: Consumer Device – Rendered Obsolete in Months

from Aaron’s Jokes

To: All EMS Personnel From: Chief of Operations Subject: Proper Narrative Descriptions

It has come to our attention from several emergency rooms that many EMS narratives have taken a decidedly creative direction lately. Effective immediately, all members are to refrain from using slang and abbreviations to describe patients, such as the following:

1) Cardiac patients should not be referred to as suffering from MUH (messed up heart), PBS (pretty bad shape), PCL (pre-code looking) or HIBGIA (had it before, got it again).

2) Stroke patients are NOT “Charlie Carrots.”

Nor are rescuers to use CCFCCP(Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs) to describe their mental state.

3) Trauma patients are not CATS (cut all to sh*t), FDGB (fall down, go boom), TBC (total body crunch) or “hamburger helper”.

Similarly, descriptions of a car crash do not have to include phrases like “negative vehicle to vehicle interface” or “terminal deceleration syndrome.”

4) HAZMAT teams are highly trained professionals, not “glow worms.”

5) Persons with altered mental states as a result of drug use are not considered “pharmaceutically gifted.”

6) Gunshot wounds to the head are not “trans-occipital implants.”

7) The homeless are not “urban outdoors men”, nor is endotracheal intubation referred to as a “PVC Challenge”.

8) And finally, do not refer to recently deceased persons as being “paws up”, ART (assuming room temperature), CC (Cancel Christmas), CTD (circling the drain), DRT (dead right there).

[Content of this post © Ascension Editing 2010]I know you will all join me in respecting the cultural diversity of our patients to include their medical orientations in creating proper narratives and log entries.

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