Susanne Schulmeister susanne71_2000 at YAHOO.DE
Thu Jul 25 13:47:32 CDT 2002

Hi Dick,

I don't know what you understand to be the "standard definition of what
a word is", but if you want to imply that an acronym must be
"pronouncable", you are wrong. I found this in the FAQs of the Acronym
database (

Q: What is an acronym?
A: It’s a special type of abbreviation, made up from the initial
letters of the words of a phrase, like FBI for Federal Bureau of
Investigation (the word acronym itself comes from the Greek for ‘head’
and ‘name’). Modern acronyms sometimes also use capitalised letters
from the middle of a word as well, like XML for eXtensible Markup

Q: Don’t acronyms have to be pronounceable as words?
A: No, there is nothing about acronyms which means that, it’s a
mistaken idea perpetuated by some American dictionaries who should know
better. FBI is indisputably an acronym but it’s pronounced Eff-Bee-Eye.


So, while M. Comp. Zool. is an abbreviation but not an acronym, MCZ is
both an abbreviation and an acronym of Museum of Comparative Zoology.



 --- Richard Jensen <rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU> wrote:
> The operative set of letters here is "word".  I don't think MCZ
> qualifies as a "word" by any standard definition of what a "word" is.
>  It is an abbreviation with the periods dropped -M.C.Z. (identical to
> the US postal abbreviation for Rhode Island - RI - in deriviation; of
> course, RI could be pronounced as "rye" and thus qualify as an
> acronym; SD, for South Dakota, is a better example of abbreviation).
> Acronyms must be able to be considered words.
> Dick
> christian thompson wrote:
> > Sorry, John, but my Random House College Dictionary (1973, page 13)
> has ACRONYM as *a word formed from the initial letters or groups of
> letters of words in a set phrase, as WAC from Women*s Army Corps or
> loran from long-range navigation.  Whereas ABREVIATION (page 2) from
> abbreviate is to shorten (a word or phrase) by omitting letters,
> substituting shorter forms, etc., as ft. for foot, ab. for about, R.
> I. for Rhode Island, N W for Northwest or Xn for Christian.
> >
> > So, it is correct to call MCZ (Museum of Comparative Zoology) or
> BMNH (British Museum of Natural History), etc. ACRONYMs as there are.
> There can also be abbreviation.
> >
> > Also, your URL is a dud.
> >
> > F. Christian Thompson

New journal: ODE - Organisms, Diversity and Evolution
by the Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik.

Susanne Schulmeister
Institute of Zoology and Anthropology
University of Göttingen, Germany


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