10 Words That Are Actually Acronyms


For those who might need a grammar brush up, an acronym is an abbreviation formed from the letters of other words and then pronounced as a word. For example, NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Now I have to be completely honest: I don’t think I knew any of these words were acronyms. What does that say about me? Probably nothing good.

But maybe you didn’t either. Language can be tricky, but it can also be a lot of fun.

Take a look at these 10 words and sound off in the comments about whether you knew they were acronyms or not.

1. BASE Jumping

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I always assumed it was called “BASE” because people jump from a spot on a cliff, or something like that. Nope. Way off. BASE stands for the four things people can jump from: building, antenna, span, or Earth.

2. Care package

Wait, what? It’s called that because the box you receive is filled with items packed with tender loving care, right? Guess again. The term dates back to after World War II when Europe lay in shambles. The packages were the work of the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe, or CARE.

3. gif

A whole lotta people like to fight over how to pronounce this word (the creator says it’s pronounced “jiff”). Steve Wilhite created the gif in 1987, and the name stands for graphics interchange format. And now you know.

4. Gulag

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Okay, this one is for the history nerds out there. The name for these brutal Soviet prison camps actually stood for “Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitelno-trudovykh Lagerey.” Yes, Russians like their consonants.

5. Humvee

A rather strange one, Humvee is an attempt to pronounce a series of letters: HMMWV or “high-mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle.”

6. Scuba

Photo Credit: Max Pixel

“Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.” Damn, I just thought they were going for something that sounded the way wet suits feel.

7. Sim Card

That crucial card in your phone? Subscriber identification module. Huh…

8. Snafu

A predicament that is no good for anyone. This term was established by U.S. troops during WWII and is short for “situation normal, all f****d up.”

9. Zip code

That ever-present zip code stands for “zone improvement plan.”

10. Radar

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Developed during the years between WWI and WWII, radar is an acronym for “radio detection and ranging.”