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What is the difference between an "acronym" and an "abbreviation"?

(D. Rajesh, Hyderabad)

An abbreviation is the shortened form of something. It can be a word or a phrase. "I. Q", for example, is the abbreviated form of "intelligence quotient". Similarly, "St." and "Mt." stand for "saint" and "mount". Here are some common abbreviations that we use in our everyday life: "Mr.", "Mrs.", and "Dr.".

The "a" in the first syllable of "acronym" is like the "a" in "act" and "pact", while the following "o" is like the "a" in "china". The final "nym" rhymes with "him", "dim" and "gym". The stress is on the first syllable. An acronym, unlike an abbreviation, is a word formed from the first letters of a series of words. "NATO" is an example of an acronym. It is formed from the words North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The first letter of every word has been used to form "NATO". The dreaded disease "AIDS" is another example of an acronym. The full expansion of AIDS is "acquired immune deficiency syndrome". "POTO" is also an acronym. Unlike an abbreviation, an acronym is usually pronounced as a word. You do not pronounce it letter by letter. The British Broadcasting Corporation is often abbreviated to BBC. We pronounce all three letters. In the case of acronyms like NATO and AIDS, we pronounce them as words.

What is the meaning of "in toto"? (S. Harish, Chennai)

"In toto" is from Latin and it means "completely" or "entirely". The "to" in the first syllable is pronounced like the word "toe"; the second syllable is pronounced the same way. The main stress is on the first syllable. Here are a few examples.

*The Vice Chancellor rejected the new proposal in toto.

*You can't expect me to accept everything in toto.

S. UPENDRAN

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