Abbreviations and acronyms have been used in the English language for many years. Because our society has become increasingly digitized in recent years, we see that more and more abbreviations and acronyms are used. Some people know exactly what they mean, but not everyone is familiar with every acronym or abbreviation. Reason enough to highlight 50 of them on this page. We’ll start with 25 commonly used acronyms and initials and then move on to the 25 most commonly used abbreviations. This way you will soon know what the most popular English abbreviations, acronyms and initial words mean.
Most used English acronyms and initials
An acronym is an abbreviation where the initial letters are pronounced as one word, while an initial word is an abbreviation where the initial letters are pronounced one by one. There are quite a few acronyms and initials in the English language. They are mainly used because typing or writing an acronym or initial word takes less time than writing or typing out the whole word. Below we list the 25 most used English acronyms and initials.
1. AFK – away from keyboard
If you are (temporarily) unable to respond to messages, you can use the initial word AFK. These three letters stand for ‘away from keyboard’. With this you indicate that you will not respond to messages (for the time being).
2. AKA – also known as
If you want to indicate that you or someone else is (also) known under a different name, you can use the initial word AKA (‘also known as’). This is often referred to as someone’s nickname.
3. BRB – be right back
When you want to indicate that you will be back in a moment, use the initial word BRB. This stands for ‘be right back’. This lets the recipient know that he/she should not expect an immediate response.
4. VAT – by the way
VAT is increasingly used in (online) communication. In Dutch this abbreviation stands for value added tax, but in English it means ‘by the way’. This is best translated as ‘by the way’.
5. DIY – do it yourself
DIY is the initial word for ‘do it yourself’. This means that you do something yourself instead of outsourcing it to someone else. In Dutch we can best translate DIY as ‘do-it-yourself’.
6. ETA – estimated time of arrival
When someone asks you in English what the estimated time of arrival is, the initial word ETA is often used. Literally this means ‘estimated time of arrival’. This initial word is mainly used if you do not know exactly what time you will arrive.
7. FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation
Everyone has heard of the initial FBI. This abbreviation is not only frequently used in books, but you also regularly encounter it on television. FBI stands for ‘Federal Bureau of Investigation’.
8. FYI – for your information
If you want to share something in an email or message, you can use the initial word FYI. This stands for ‘for your information’. In Dutch we usually use ‘for information’ for this.
9. HR – Human Resources
The initial word for ‘human resources’ is HR. This term is mainly used in business. This refers to the people who are employed by a company. If there is a department within a company that deals with personnel, it is often referred to as the HR department.
10. ID – Identification
Identification has ID as initial word. Many people immediately think of an ID as a document, but it can also be a code. Online, a code is often used to verify your identity.
11. IMO – in my opinion
If you want to give your opinion about something, you can use the initial word IMO for this. If you were to write this out in full, it would say ‘in my opinion’. Because IMO is a lot shorter, the initial word is increasingly used instead of the full term.
12. IQ – intelligence quotient
A person’s intelligence is expressed in IQ. This is the initial word of ‘intelligence quotient’. A person’s IQ is determined on the basis of a number of standardized tests.
13. MBA – master of business administration
MBA stands for ‘master of business administration’. This initial word denotes a special form of a master. An MBA is often aimed at those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree who have at least several years of work experience. It is a professionally oriented business and business economics study.
14. NVM – never mind
In Dutch NVM is the abbreviation of the Dutch Association of Real Estate Agents, but in English NVM is the initial word for ‘never mind’. This indicates that something does not matter to you.
15. OMW – on my way
If you want to indicate that he is on his way, you can use the English initial word OMW for this. These three letters stand for ‘on my way’. Like many initial words, OMW is mainly used in text messages.
16. PC – personal computer
PC is an initial word that is frequently used. There are very few people who say personal computer when they mean a fixed computer.
17. POV – point of view
POV is not only widely used in the English language, but also in Dutch. It stands for ‘point of view’. You use this initial word to indicate that you are looking at something from a certain perspective.
18. TBA – to be announced
When the English initial word TBA is used, it means that something is being announced. It stands for ‘to be announced’. This term is used, among other things, to announce new films and games.
19. TGIF – thank god it’s friday
This initial word is actually only used on Friday. TGIF stands for ‘thank god it’s friday’. When someone incorporates this initial word into a text message, the person expresses that he/she is happy that the weekend is approaching.
20. TMI – too much information
Finally, TMI. This initial word stands for ‘too much information’. Many people mainly use TMI to make it clear that just too much personal information is being shared.
21. ASAP – as soon as possible
Do you want to encourage the recipient of a message to take action as soon as possible? Then you can use the acronym ASAP. This stands for ‘as soon as possible’, which is comparable to the Dutch ‘as soon as possible’ (as soon as possible). Because ASAP is pronounced as one word and not letter by letter, such a word is also known as an acronym in the Dutch language.
22. AWOL – absent without (official) leave
AWOL stands for ‘absent without (official) leave. This term comes from the military, but is increasingly used in ‘normal’ life. It means nothing more than someone being absent without their permission.
23. LOL – laughing out loud
The acronym LOL can be used to indicate that someone is laughing really hard at something. This stands for ‘laughing out loud’. Instead of LOL you can also use ROFL, which is the acronym for ‘rolling on the floor laughing’.
24. NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA is an acronym that almost everyone has heard of. It stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This is an independent agency of the United States federal government. NASA is responsible for the US civilian space program.
25. SWAT – Special Weapons And Tactics
SWAT is the acronym for Special Weapons And Tactics. This designates the special police teams in the United States that are deployed for particularly large or difficult operations.
Most used English abbreviations
In addition to English acronyms and initial words, you may also have to deal with English abbreviations. An abbreviation is often used in a text message, because then one does not have to type the entire word or sentence. Curious which English abbreviations are most commonly used? Translation agency Perfect sorted it out for you. We have listed the 25 most used ones for you here.
26. am or AM – ante meridiem
Chances are you have come across the abbreviation am or AM. You will encounter this abbreviation on a digital clock, among other things. Am or AM stands for ‘ante meridiem’ and indicates a time before noon.
27. BCC – Blind Carbon Copy
When sending an e-mail you can fill in several fields. BCC stands for one of these fields. This abbreviation stands for ‘Blind Carbon Copy’. Do you enter the email addresses of the recipients here? Then they can’t see who else has received the email. The BCC field is mainly used for a business email.
28. cal. – calories
Anyone who studies English food packaging will probably come across the abbreviation ‘cal.’ against. This is the shortened version of the word ‘calories’. On the basis of this you can deduce how many calories a product contains.
29. CC – Carbon Copy
The abbreviations CC stand for Carbon Copy. In terms of name, this abbreviation is very similar to BCC, but there are differences. Do you want to send an email to multiple people and enter the email addresses in the CC field? Then the recipients can see who else has received the email.
30. corp. – corporation
In business, the English abbreviation “corp.” frequently used. There are even companies that have this abbreviation in their name. This in itself is not surprising, because ‘corp.’ is the abbreviation of ‘corporation’, which means ‘company’.
31. dr. – Doctor
When a person bears the title ‘doctor’, he may use it before his name. Often not the whole word is used, but the abbreviation. The word “doctor” is abbreviated to “Dr.” in English.
32. Ed. – edition
If someone is talking about a specific edition of something, he can indicate it in English using the word ‘edition’. Yet often an abbreviation is used instead of the whole word. ‘Edition’ is abbreviated to ‘ed’ in English.
33. Eg – exempli gratia
In English sometimes abbreviations of Latin words are also used. ‘Eg’ is an example of this. This abbreviation stands for exempli gratia, which means ‘for example’ – or ‘for example’ in English.
34. est. – established, estimated
The English abbreviation ‘est.’ can stand for either ‘established’ or ‘estimated’. ‘Est’ is used, among other things, to indicate the date on which a company or organization was founded. The abbreviation can also be used to indicate that it is an estimate.
35. et al. – et alli (and others)
Like ‘eg’, ‘et al’ also refers to a Latin term. ‘Et all.’ is the abbreviation of ‘et alli’, which means ‘and others’ – ‘and others’ in Dutch. You may encounter this abbreviation in the bibliography of a book, for example. It is often used when referring to two or more names.
36. ft. – feet, feet
‘Ft’ is another example of an English abbreviation that can be used for two words. You can refer to ‘foot’ and ‘feet’ with it. Some people think of this as the feet of the body, but “ft.” is mainly used to indicate a height, length or distance.
37. bile. – gallon(s)
In the past, the volume of something was often indicated in gallons, but these days it doesn’t happen very often. You can still use the abbreviation ‘gal.’ still encounter. When you say ‘gal.’ somewhere, you now know that this means gallon(s).
38. hr – hour
In English, a unit of time is often abbreviated. This happens not only with minutes (‘mins), but also with hours. The abbreviation ‘hr’ is used to indicate hours.
39. ie – id est (that is)
Abbreviation number 14 from this overview is also one that refers to a Latin term. ‘ie’ stands for ‘id est’. When you use this abbreviation in an English text, you are referring to ‘that is’ or ‘in other words’. This clarifies the subject you discussed before or, on the contrary, you go deeper into it after using the English abbreviation ‘ie’.
40. in. – inch(s)
Sizes are often abbreviated in English – just like in Dutch. A good example of this is the length measurement ‘inch(s)’. If you want to abbreviate this size, use the abbreviation ‘in.’. ‘Inch(es)’ is by no means always abbreviated with letters. Often a double high comma (“) is used to indicate that it concerns ‘inch(s).
41. inc. – incorporated
Earlier in this list came the abbreviation “corp.” already passed, but in English the abbreviation becomes ‘inc.’ also widely used. You will encounter the abbreviation of ‘incorporated’ in the names of companies, among other things. In principle, this indicates the legal form of a company. It is comparable to a Dutch public limited company (NV).
42. Jr. – Junior
After the name of an English boy or man can be ‘jr.’ stand. This is the abbreviation of ‘junior’. This abbreviation is used to distinguish the person in question from a relative of the same name.
43. km – kilometer(s)
An abbreviation is often used not only for the length measurement ‘inch(s)’, but also for ‘kilometre(s)’. When this measure of length is abbreviated, ‘km’ is written after the number. Sometimes ‘kilometre(s)’ is also just abbreviated with ‘k’.
44. m – metre(s)
‘Metre(s)’ is again a measure of length that is often abbreviated in English. Where ‘kilometre(s)’ can be abbreviated in two ways, you can only abbreviate ‘metre(s)’ with the letter ‘m’.
45. mph – miles per hour
The distance covered by a vehicle in a certain time is expressed in Dutch in kilometers per hour, but in English with ‘miles per hour’. Since this is quite a mouthful, it is usually abbreviated to ‘mph’.
46. mr. – Mister
A man is addressed in English as ‘Mister’. This is often abbreviated to ‘Mr.’ After this abbreviation, the full name can follow, but also just the last name. ‘Mr.’ is used for the names of married and unmarried men alike.
47. mrs. – mistress
‘Mrs.’ is short for ‘mistress’ and is used to address a woman. You only use this English abbreviation for a woman’s (full) name if she is married. You address an unmarried woman with the title ‘Miss’. Don’t know if someone is married? Then use the form of address ‘Ms.’
48. N/a – not available
If you want to let us know in English that something or someone is not available at the moment, you can use the abbreviation ‘N/a’. This stands for ‘not available’.
49. pm or PM – post meridiem
At the beginning of this overview with the 25 most used English abbreviations ‘am’ was already mentioned. “Pm” or “PM” is a similar abbreviation. The abbreviation of ‘post meridiem’ can also be found on the digital clock. When these letters appear on the display, it means that it has passed 12 noon.
50. vs. – versus
When you use the abbreviation ‘vs.’ in English it’s not about the United States. These two letters are the abbreviation of the word ‘versus’. The abbreviation is often used to indicate which parties compete against each other in a (sports) match.
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