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An acronym is a kind of abbreviation. The word comes from Greek, meaning heads of names. Acronyms are usually made from the capitalised initials of the words they represent, for example FBI is an acronym for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Occasionally, for special reasons, the second letter of a word is used, as in XML eXtensible Markup Language , but this is deprecated. Contrary to what some people say, acronyms do not have to be pronounceable words for example FBI is spelled out when spoken, whereas NASA is not. Some sources use the word initialism to refer to the spelled acronyms, which is occasionally a useful distinction, but they are still acronyms. The origins of acronyms are a little unclear, but their widespread use in daily life is a relatively modern phenomenon and the result of growing literacy in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In more restricted circumstances, however, they have been in use for thousands of years both the Roman and Hebrew cultures used them. There is a shortage of good articles on the web about the history and development of acronyms: There is also an unimaginable quantity of garbage put out by the ignorant, some of which is now rightly being exposed as Urban Myth see example.
Both Britain and North America seem to generate an unusual amount of completely spurious and fanciful meanings derived from novelty-hunting, which gain currency in semi-literate circles until they aquire the status of myth, and belief in them is as widespread as it is misplaced. As a footnote to all this, we began serving acronyms to the Internet in late , with an email interface you sent email with a request and got back the answer , so we've been collecting acronyms from all over for the best part of three decades.