A is for Acronym


I’m sure you know this already, but in case you just fell off of the turnip truck, an acronym is a word formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term. Some common examples of acronyms include NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), and POTUS (President Of The United States),

There are some acronyms that have evolved into words in contemporary English usage, like radar (originally an acronym for Radio Detection And Ranging), laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation), and snafu (Situation Normal: All Fucked Up).

Acronym Redundancy

31CA4792-9B17-4ED5-B6B0-33211735251DI saw a sign outside of a building that read “ATM Machine Available.” There were instructions on said machine that read, “Insert your ATM card in the slot and enter your 6 to 12 digit PIN number.”

Since ATM is an acronym for Automated Teller Machine, using the term “ATM machine” is basically saying “automated teller machine machine.” Same with PIN, which stands for Personal Identification Number, VIN, which stands for Vehicle Identification Number, or SSN, which stands for Social Security Number. Following “PIN,” “VIN,” or “SSN” with “number” is unnecessary and redundant, and it is something I find annoying when I hear people do it.

There is actually a name for this kind of acronym redundancy. It’s called Redundant Acronym Syndrome, or RAS. It’s defined as the use of one or more of the words that make up an acronym in conjunction with the abbreviated form, as in PIN number. The formal name for this malady is, fittingly, “RAS Syndrome.”  Think about it.

I am amused when people refer to the cable news network that Donald Trump loves to hate, CNN, as the “CNN Network.” And one of my favorites is when those college-bound hopefuls refer to the Scholastic Aptitude Test they must take as the “SAT test.”  If that’s what they are calling that test, they should automatically fail the SAT.

Do you know any RAS Syndrome examples you’d like to share?

57 thoughts on “A is for Acronym

  1. Bill April 1, 2019 / 6:51 am

    I was told acronyms were pronounceable words (RADAR, NATO), but if the letters were not words but a series of letters (NBC, ATM) they were initialisms. The US Navy must hold some sort of record for the most and the longest pronounceable acronyms.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango April 1, 2019 / 7:06 am

      Technically, you’re right. ATM is an initialism, where as PIN is an acronym. Maybe my “I” A to Z post will be about initialisms.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sadje April 1, 2019 / 6:54 am

    Haha! There are many which I have read, but have forgotten now. Probably will remember later.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paula Light April 1, 2019 / 7:14 am

    I don’t get annoyed at things like “ATM machine,” but I fly into utter rages at apostrophe abuse. Maybe we should ban them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 1, 2019 / 7:17 am

      Apostrophe abuse drive’s me crazy as well. 🤪

      Liked by 1 person

    • Asbestos Dust April 1, 2019 / 9:05 am

      Everyone hate’s all kind’s of apostrophe’s being abused. Can’t figure out why the mouthbreather’s can’t sort it out. But I’m on you’re side on this one.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Fandango April 1, 2019 / 11:32 am

        See, even you and I can agree on something every once in a while, even though it hurt my eyes to read your comment! 😏


  4. eschudel April 1, 2019 / 7:36 am

    CSI Investigations… Oh, there are many, aren’t there? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pradeep April 1, 2019 / 8:03 am

    I liked this post a lot. PIN number is one of the common wrong usages.
    I have seen people writing acronyms as a word, I mean, with only the first letter in caps, like Nato, Nasa etc. Not quite if that’s right.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Melfka April 1, 2019 / 8:55 am

    I really enjoyed the bit about RAS, though I can’t think of any specific examples that you didn’t cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. msjadeli April 1, 2019 / 9:39 am

    IOU (is this an acronym or not?) one laugh on this. Good post for “A”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. BlackSheep April 1, 2019 / 9:54 am

    The field of computers has a lot of these. RAM Memory. ROM Memory. NIC Controller/Card. HTML Language. HTTP Protocol. FTP Protocol. IP Protocol (basically all the protocols). LAN Network. WAN Network. USB Bus.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. josna April 1, 2019 / 10:44 am

    This is right up my alley! I will consider redundant acronyms and get back to you. My pet peeve about the use of acronyms, especially in the news media, is that there is often the assumption that the reader knows what they refer to. All the best with the Challenge and looking forward to returning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 1, 2019 / 12:59 pm

      Thanks. Yes, I sometimes have to Google to find out what the acronyms I hear on the news or read about in the paper mean.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Marleen April 1, 2019 / 11:19 am

    I’ll go for the low-hanging fruit: ACT test

    Liked by 1 person

  11. rugby843 April 1, 2019 / 11:39 am

    My current fave is from the military- fubar

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 1, 2019 / 1:39 pm

      Very similar to snafu.


  12. Marleen April 1, 2019 / 2:27 pm

    I’ve got another one: LOI letter

    Liked by 1 person

  13. bikerchick57 April 1, 2019 / 3:49 pm

    As a state government employee, I deal in more acronyms than I can count or remember! When we hire new people in our office, from outside government, I have to remember to speak “English” to them until they get acclimated.

    Liked by 1 person

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