List of Common Acronyms

Acronyms are similar to abbreviations, in that they are a shorthand way of expressing an idea. Acronyms are typically formed by using the first letter of each word in a phrase to form a new word. For example, the phrase "you only live once" is often shortened to YOLO. Acronyms are usually spelled with capital letters and pronounced as a new word.

List of Common Acronyms List of Common Acronyms

"Acronym" is a blanket term that can also encompass initialisms. An initialism is also a phrase indicated by abbreviating the first letter of each word in it, but it is unpronounceable as a unique word. Instead, initialisms are pronounced by saying each letter of the word individually. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is shortened to FBI, but this is always pronounced by saying each letter separately.

Below you'll find lists of commonly used acronyms and initialisms in everyday environments and situations.

Advertisement

Common Acronyms in Chat

The world of email, texting, and instant messaging has given rise to a whole series of acronyms and initialisms that allow texters to complete their messages more quickly. Nearly all are initialisms because they are pronounced letter by letter. Occasionally some are pronounced as words in conversation, though this is uncommon. The abbreviations that are sometimes pronounced as acronyms have been bolded.

  • AFK - Away From Keyboard
  • BBIAB - Be Back In A Bit
  • BBL - Be Back Later
  • BBS - Be Back Soon
  • BEG - Big Evil Grin
  • BRB - Be Right Back
  • BTW - By The Way
  • EG - Evil Grin
  • FISH - First In, Still Here
  • IDK - I Don't Know
  • IMO - In My Opinion
  • IRL - In Real Life
  • KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid
  • LMK - Let Me Know
  • LOL - Laughing Out Loud
  • NYOB - None of Your Business
  • OFC - Of Course
  • OMG - Oh My God
  • PANS - Pretty Awesome New Stuff
  • PHAT - Pretty, Hot, And Tempting
  • POS - Parents Over Shoulder
  • ROFL - Rolling On the Floor Laughing
  • SMH - Shaking My Head
  • TTYL - Talk To You Later
  • YOLO - You Only Live Once
  • WTH - What The Heck

Common Acronyms in the Military and Government

Understanding what is being said in a government or official setting can be difficult. Here are some common acronyms used in government and military settings. True acronyms that are pronounced as words have been bolded:

  • ASAP - As Soon As Possible
  • AWOL - Absent Without Leave
  • CIA - Central Intelligence Agency
  • CPL - Corporal
  • CPS - Child Protective Services
  • CPT - Captain
  • CSI - Crime Scene Investigation
  • DAFB - Dover Air Force Base
  • DMV - Division of Motor Vehicles
  • DNC - Democratic National Committee
  • DOD - Department of Defense
  • DON - Department of the Navy
  • DZ - Drop Zone
  • FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • FUBAR - F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition
  • GIB - GI Bill
  • MAJ - Major
  • MIA - Missing In Action
  • OSHA - Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • NAFTA - North American Free Trade Agreement
  • NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Navy SEALs - Navy Sea Air Land forces
  • POTUS - President of the United States
  • POW - Prisoner Of War
  • RNC - Republican National Committee
  • REAP - Reserve Education Assistance Program
  • SCOTUS - Supreme Court of the United States
  • SGT - Sergeant
  • SWAT - Special Weapons And Tactics
  • UN - United Nations
  • USAF - United States Air Force
Advertisement

Common Informative Acronyms

Acronyms are a useful way to convey essential information quickly, but only if you know what they mean. Informative acronyms are commonly used in the medical field but have also crossed over from industries into daily life. Pronounced acronyms are in bold; the rest are initialisms in which each letter is pronounced separately:

  • ABS - Anti-lock Braking System
  • ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder
  • ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • AIDS - Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
  • AMA - Against Medical Advice
  • CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • DARE - Drug Abuse Resistance Education
  • DOA - Dead On Arrival
  • DOB - Date Of Birth
  • DIY - Do It Yourself
  • ESL - English As A Second Language
  • FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
  • GIF - Graphics Interchange Format
  • HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • ID - Identification
  • IQ - Intelligence Quotient
  • MD - Medical Doctor
  • OTC - Over The Counter
  • PPV - Pay Per View
  • PS - Post Script
  • RADAR - Radio Detection And Ranging
  • SONAR - Sound Navigation And Ranging
  • SUV - Sports Utility Vehicle
  • TBA - To Be Announced
  • UFO - Unidentified Flying Object

Common Acronyms in Business

Acronyms are often used in the business world to identify a business or to create shorthand communication between co-workers. True acronyms are bolded:

  • ADP - Automated Data Processing
  • AKA - Also Known As
  • CAPTCHA - Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart
  • CC - Copy To
  • CST - Central Standard Time
  • DAEMON - Disk And Execution Monitor
  • DBA - Doing Business As
  • DND - Do Not Disturb
  • EDS - Electronic Data Systems
  • EOD - End of Day
  • EST - Eastern Standard Time
  • ETA - Estimated Time of Arrival
  • FYI - For Your Information
  • FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
  • HR - Human Resources
  • MBA - Masters of Business Administration
  • MST - Mountain Standard Time
  • NASDAQ - National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation
  • OT - Overtime
  • POS - Point Of Service
  • PR - Public Relations
  • PST - Pacific Standard Time
  • SWOT - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
  • SMART Goals - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound Goals
  • TBD - To Be Determined
  • TED - Tell me, Explain to me, Describe to me
Advertisement

Common Acronyms as Identifiers

Some acronyms identify an organization or person by shortening a long name into a pronounced acronym (bold) or into an initialism. Explore these common identifiers for organizations and dating.

  • AA – Alcoholics Anonymous
  • AAAS – American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • AARP – American Association of Retired Persons
  • ADA – American Dental Association
  • AFL – American Football League
  • AMA – American Medical Association
  • APA – American Psychological Association
  • BBW - Big Beautiful Woman
  • BF - Boyfriend
  • ESPN – Entertainment and Sports Programming Network
  • F2F - Face to Face
  • FLAG – Foreign Language Association of Georgia
  • GF - Girlfriend
  • IR - Interacial
  • LDR - Long Distance Relationship
  • MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving
  • MLA – Modern Language Association
  • MOTOS - Member Of The Opposite Sex
  • MOTSS - Member Of The Same Sex
  • NBA – National Basketball Association
  • NFL – National Football League
  • NHL – National Hockey League
  • PAWS – Progressive Animal Welfare Society
  • PGA – Professional Golfer’s Association
  • SPCA – Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • SO - Significant Other
  • SWF – Single White Female
  • SWM – Single White Male
  • TS - Transsexual
  • VBD - Very Bad Date
  • WWE – World Wrestling Entertainment
  • ZIP code - Zone Improvement Plan code

Clearing Up Acronym Confusion

Whether a series of letters is a true acronym or an initialism, it's not uncommon for these abbreviations to become words in their own right in the English language. Some are used so often that it's easy to forget they stand for a more complicated phrase, but understanding what the letters stand for will make even the most obscure acronym crystal-clear.

Creating your own acronyms can be a lot of fun too. Take a look at some funny acronyms to get some inspiration for your own silly sayings.