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Glossary for Spanish Students


Renfe trains

Trenes de la Renfe. (Renfe trains.)

Photo by Eldelinux; licensed via Creative Commons.

Definition: A word formed by using the initials of a phrase or other group of words.

An acronym is often considered to be a type of abbreviation. Generally, if an abbreviation is pronounced as a word rather than as the letters individually, it is considered an acronym. Often the distinction isn't always made between acronyms and abbreviations, especially when the abbreviation is more widely known than what it stands for, such as "PVC" (polyvinyl chloride) and "ATM" (automated teller machine).

Acronyms often are capitalized, as in the Spanish CURT (for centro urbano de rehabilitación de toxicómanos, or a drug rehab center). Occasionally, acronyms form a word whose original meaning is nearly forgotten, such as "laser" (láser in Spanish), which comes from "l(ight) a(mplification by) s(timulated) e(mission of) r(adiation)."

Also known as: Las siglas or el acrónimo in Spanish.

Examples: English acronyms include "AWOL" (absent without leave), "RAM" (random-access memory) and "AIDS" (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Spanish acronyms include Renfe (Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles, the Spanish national railroad), RAM (derived from English) and sida (síndrome de inmunodeficiencia adquirida or AIDS).

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