Common Acronyms And Abbrevations


Acronyms And Abbreviations

Whether you surf the internet a lot, or you've seen something like CCTV on your last UK trip - abbreviations and acronyms / initialisms are very common across the English speaking world. Maybe you needed to know the time, and have been told that it's 7 p.m. Or you've wondered about that strange looking abbreviation at the bottom of an invitation you got - RSVP.

So, with this list, I'll try to shed light on some of the most commonly encountered acronyms. (Of course, this list is non-exhaustive, thus, if you stumble across an abbreviation / acronym you would like me to include in a future list, contact me)

Words in bold are explained at the bottom :-)

So here it is: A list of acronyms and abbreviations

Acronym Definition
A.M. ante meridiem (Latin); before noon
Caution! Do NOT confuse Ante-Meridiem and Anti-Meridian. The Anti-meridian is the 180th meridian, the basis for the international date line. (Both 180 degrees west and east.)
ASAP as soon as possible
ATM automated teller machine
cash machine
AWOL absent without leave or absent without official leave (military)
A&E accident & emergency (BrE)
This is where emergency victims go, or are brought to by an ambulance. In America A6E is called ER (Emergency Room) Hopefully you'll never have to pay a visit...

buy one get one free
Buy one get one free offers are one of the most effective marketing tools in supermarkets

BTW by the way
CCTV closed circuit television
Especially in the UK, you will encounter lots of CCTV signs; in shops, hospitals, basically anywhere public, outside and inside. British politicians tell you it's to prevent crime, but people's opinions are very divided about the usefulness of these cameras... So, anywhere it says CCTV - Big Brother is watching you ;-)
CV curriculum vitae (Latin)
You need a CV to apply for jobs, it contains info about your education, past employment etc.
DIY do it yourself
Why pay for services around the house/garden etc, when you can do it yourself? But beware of the pitfalls of DIY if you overestimate yourself - in some cases that "expensive" professional would really have been cheaper ;-)
ETA estimated time of arrival
have you ever waited at the airport for a friend to arrive? ETA would have been half an hour ago, but still no sight of that plane...

edited to add...
On the internet, ETA can also mean edited to add, for example, if you posted something in a forum and sent it off only to discover that you made a few spelling mistakes, you would probably re-open your post (edit it) , correct your mistakes, and then, at the bottom of your post you would add ETA: corrected spelling mistakes. This is useful especially in a heated discussion, where people might think you had changed the meaning of your (perhaps controversial post) without telling them...
FAQ frequently asked questions
Very widely used acronym, used where you don't want people to ask you the same questions over and over again. A FAQ is a collection of questions that have come up the most.
FYI for your information
MP Member of Parliament (Government, Politics & Diplomacy in Britain and Canada)
Metropolitan Police (Law) (in Britain)
Military Police (Military)
NHS National Health Service
The National Health Service is the shared name of three of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom. The systems are primarily funded through general taxation rather than requiring insurance payments, and were founded in 1948. They provide a comprehensive range of health services, the vast majority of which are free at the point of use to residents of the United Kingdom. (source: wikipedia)
P.M. post meridiem (Latin) after mid-day
RSVP Répondez s'il vous plaît  (French)
R.S.V.P is often found at the bottom of an invitation. It means that you should respond to the invitation, regardless of whether you are able to attend or not. This makes it a lot easier for the host to plan the party!

Btw, did you know that the term backronym is used for a phrase/sentence that is especially constructed to form an acronym to a desired word? They may be invented with either serious or humorous intent, or may be a type of false or folk etymology.
For example: NOISE (Neighbors Opposed to Irritating Sound Emissions) (source: grammar.about.com)

New vocabulary (words are listed in order of appearance): 

acronyms/initialisms: abbreviations formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word
to shed light on sth: make free from confusion or ambiguity; make clear
non-exhaustive: does not claim to include everything
to stumble across/on/upon sth: to find something, or to meet someone, by accident
meridian: one of the lines that is drawn from the North
Pole to the South Pole on a map of the world
leave (here): official permission to do something.
encounter: come across
prevent: to stop something from happening
apply (here): to make a formal (written) request for a job
pitfalls: danger or difficulty, especially one that is hidden/not obvious at first
heated discussion: a discussion between people where the participants are not of the same opinion, it is a verbal fight, so to speak
controversial: causing a lot of angry public discussion and disagreement
comprehensive: including everything
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