80 Acronym Examples You Should Know

Acronyms make communication easier, but who can keep track of what they mean? We can, and now you can too with these common acronym examples.

Learn these acronym examples ASAP

Sometimes we have a lot to say, but little time to say it. That’s where acronyms come in and help speed things up. What exactly is an acronym? It’s a word comprised of the first initials of the other words, which is then pronounced as its own word. Acronyms are created to shorten long phrases and speed up communication, much like abbreviations and initialisms.

While these terms are similar, they do have distinct differences to note. Abbreviations shorten a word or phrase without creating a new word to say (think of “avenue” being abbreviated to “ave.”). Initialisms are words comprised of the first letter of phrases, but you say the individual letters instead of combining them to make a new word (think “RSVP“—you don’t create a new word when reading it aloud).

You’ve likely seen these acronyms in everyday life mixed in with common texting abbreviations. But what exactly do they mean? Here’s a quick guide to keep you in the know and help you communicate faster (we also included some common abbreviations and initialisms for reference).

Common acronyms

AM/PMAbbreviations for “ante meridiem” and “post meridiem”
ASAPAs soon as possible
BOGOBuy one, get one
BOPUSBuy online, pick up in store
ICYMIAn abbreviation meaning “in case you missed it”
FOMOFear of missing out
FWIWAn abbreviation meaning “for what it’s worth”
LASERLight amplification by stimulated emission of radiation
Ms.Commonly considered an abbreviation for “miss,” but technically it’s not an abbreviation for anything. The period is there to indicate that it’s a valid title for adults to use.
P.S.An abbreviation for “postscript”
PINPersonal identification number
RADARRadio detecting and ranging
RIPRest in peace (this can also be an initialism, as some people say “r” “i” “p”)
SCUBASelf-contained underwater breathing apparatus
SMARTSpecific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound (commonly used when setting goals)
SNAFUSituation normal, all fouled up
SOHCAHTOAAcronym used in mathematics to remember the trigonometric functions sine, cosine, and tangent.
SONARSound navigation and ranging
SOSCommonly assumed to stand for “save our ship”, but technically, the international distress signal doesn’t stand for anything
TASERTom A. Swift Electric Rifle
VINVehicle identification number
WD-40Water Displacement, 40th formula
YOLOYou only live once
ZIPZone improvement plan

Computer and Internet acronyms

AJAXAsynchronous JavaScript And XML
CAPTCHACompletely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart
CD-ROMCompact Disc Read-Only Memory
DVDDigital Versatile Disc
FiosFiber Optic Service
GIFGraphics Interchange Format
JPEGJoint Photographic Experts Group
JSONJavaScript Object Notation
PNGPortable Network Graphics
RAMRandom Access Memory
SIMSubscriber Identity Module (as in a SIM card)
URLAn initialism that stands for “Uniform Resource Locator”
WiFiAn abbreviation commonly thought to stand for “Wireless Fidelity”, but technically, it doesn’t stand for anything

Military and government acronyms

AWOLAbsent without leave
CONUSThe Continental United States
FEMAFederal Emergency Management Agency
FLOTUSFirst Lady of the United States
FOIAFreedom of Information Act
HIPPAHealth Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
HUDDepartment of Housing and Urban Development
ICEImmigration and Customs Enforcement
NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organization
OCONUSOutside the Continental United States
OSHAOccupational Safety and Health Administration
POTUSPresident of the United States
SCOTUSSupreme Court of the United States
SWATSpecial Weapons And Tactics
WICSpecial Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

Medical acronyms

AIDSAcquired immunodeficiency syndrome
COVID-19Coronavirus disease of 2019
CPAPContinuous positive airway pressure
ICUIntensive care unit
NICUNeonatal intensive care unit
PreopAn abbreviation for “preoperative”
PostopAn abbreviation for “postoperative”
ROMRange of motion
SARSSevere acute respiratory syndrome
STATAn abbreviation for “statim,” which is Latin for “immediately”
UTIUrinary tract infection

Brand and organizational acronyms

ABBAThe name of the famous Swedish pop group combines the first initial of its members’ names—Agnetha, Björn, Benny, and Anni-Frid.
AflacAmerican Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus
AT&TAn initialism for “American Telephone and Telegraph”
BAFTABritish Academy of Film and Television Arts
CARECooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere
CVSAn initialism for “Consumer Value Store”
DAREDrug Abuse Resistance Education
EpcotExperimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow
FIFAFédération Internationale de Football Association
GEICOGovernment Employees Insurance Company
H&MAn initialism for “Hennes & Mauritz”
IKEAIngvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnary. The first two words are the founder’s name, Invgvar Kamprad, and the second two refer to Kamprad’s family farm (Elmtaryd) and hometown (Agunnary, Sweden)
MADDMothers Against Drunk Driving
NASDAQNational Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations
NeccoNew England Confectionary Company
UNICEFUnited Nations Children’s Fund
Yahoo!Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle

Kelly Kuehn
Kelly Kuehn is an assistant editor for Reader’s Digest covering entertainment, trivia, and history. When she’s not writing you can find her watching the latest and greatest movies, listening to a true crime podcast (or two), blasting ‘90s music, and hiking with her dog, Ryker, throughout New England.