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Re: [xml-dev] Is "XML" an abbreviation or an acronym?

"abbreviation - a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase,
used to represent the whole, as Dr. for Doctor, lb. for pound.

acronym - a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters
of words in a set phrase or series of words, as OPEC from Organization
of Petroleum Exporting Countries."

The dictionary is quite clear so I cannot understand the confusion. To qualify as an acronym, the abbreviation must form a *word*. To qualify as a word it must appear in a dictionary, not just in the tautological sense that common abbreviations appear in dictionaries, but with a meaning from a different context. So GNU is a genuine acronym since it appears in the dictionary as an animal. XML is definitely not. The only confusion can occur when the abbreviation is pronounceable other than as individual letters so that it might qualify as a word rather than just a sequence of letters. A purist might disagree with the above dictionary since opec is not otherwise a word despite being pronounceable. The true art of acronym formation is not only to form a genuine word, but one that has some relevance to the original context, though I cannot think of a good example at the moment. Anyway XML certainly does not qualify!


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