a set of initials representing a name, organization, or the like, with each letter pronounced separately, as FBI for Federal Bureau of Investigation.
a name or term formed from the initial letters of a group of words and pronounced as a separate word, as NATO for North Atlantic Treaty Organization; an acronym.
the practice of using initials or forming words from initials.

1895–1900; initial + -ism

abbreviation, acronym, initialism.

See abbreviation. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Listings are alphabetical with the acronym or initialism followed by its full word equivalent.
An initialism is similar to acronym but is not pronounced as a word.
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