Why Acronyms Should Be Avoided Unless You Define Them First

I am not a fan of acronyms and I am including the widest definition of acronym (acronym, initialism, pseudo-blend, symbol – see the description in the link for examples of each; note the link has a fair number of examples, but is far from complete by any stretch of the imagination; see the ). For some, it’s only an acronym if it’s something like SARS (i.e., the initials can be pronounced). DVD since CD’s are a dying  Blame it working on an Air Force base where the same acronym meant different things to different people. We had non-Air Force personnel (Army, Navy, etc.) who might use the same acronym, but it meant something vastly different than the Air Force acronym. If that wasn’t bad enough, different Commands of the Air Force may use the same or similar acronym, but with different meanings.

At some point, I will dig through all of my blog posts and try to make sure I define each acronym (except DNA and maybe a few other common ones) in posts that have acronyms. Early on, I only defined an acronym the first time I talked about, but not if I used it in later blog posts. I eventually realized this was a bad practice and decided to define an acronym the first time I use it in a new post no matter how many times I have done so in earlier blog posts. Bloggers should go with the theory that the first post a new reader may read in your blog is often not the first time you used an acronym.

Here’s a good starting point for acronyms: https://www.acronymfinder.com/

Find out what any acronym, abbreviation, or initialism stands for

With more than 1,000,000 human-edited definitions, Acronym Finder is the world’s largest and most comprehensive dictionary of acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms. Combined with the Acronym Attic, Acronym Finder contains more than 5 million acronyms and abbreviations. You can also search for more than 850,000 US and Canadian postal codes.

I am going to give a great acronym example: SSDI. If you don’t what it means (and there are seven meanings on Acronym Finder and another 30 definitions on its sister site, https://www.acronymattic.com/SSDI.html. If you think that’s bad, a friend posted an acronym on Facebook a while back that I wasn’t familiar with. Using a different acronym website, I found 119 possible definitions. She wouldn’t tell me which one of them was the one she meant which leads me to believe it was the NSFW (Not Suitable For Work) one. If I use SSDI on my blog, it tends to be one of two uses and the first time I post SSDI, I would do it as Social Security Death Index (SSDI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). For the rest of the post, I would use SSDI. I have no plans to do a post, other than this one and future posts on acronym, abbreviation, or initialism, where I use multiple terms for the same acronym. In the event I ever feel the need to do so in a blog post, I would simply spell out the terms every time I used it (i.e., Social Security Death Index and Social Security Disability Insurance).

I belong to a number of Facebook groups of different types: genealogy, DNA, writers, RPGs, etc. and unfortunately most of the people posting throw out acronyms without defining them. When I post in a group, I do my best to define the term; for example Not the Parent(s) Expected (NPE). I often let people know it’s called Non-Paternity (or Paternal) Event, and I explain why I call it Parent(s) since it is not always a case of “Who’s the Daddy?” as it can be “Who’s the Mommy?” or “Who are the Parents?” For adoptees who haven’t been told about the adoption by their adopted parents, it can be an eye-opener when results come back showing a Birth Mother (BM) or Birth Father (BF) who isn’t the parent(s) you were raised believing were mother and/or father. If you are an adopted parent, let the child know they are adopted once they are old enough.

Also, linking to a later post: If You Are Going to Use Acronyms in a Post, Please Define Them in the Post

About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's collaborateDealspotr.com
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1 Response to Why Acronyms Should Be Avoided Unless You Define Them First

  1. Pingback: If You Are Going to Use Acronyms in a Post, Please Define Them in the Post | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

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