Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tautological Pleonastic Redundancies


Q. People are getting pretty sloppy about acronyms. I saw a bank ad that spoke of its convenient ATM machines.

A. I assume that you’re referring to the redundancy involved in Automated Teller Machine machine. My guess is that some folks have no idea what the initials stand for. There are more of these than you might at first notice.


  • ABM missile [Antiballistic Missile]
  • ABS system [Antilock Braking System]
  • AC current [Alternating Current]
  • ACT test [American College Test]
  • ADSL line [Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line]
  • A.M. in the morning [Ante Meridiem: lit. before noon]
  • ATM machine [Automated Teller Machine]
  • BASIC code [Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code]
  • CAD design [Computer-Aided Design]
  • CNN network [Cable News Network]
  • DC current [Direct Current]
  • DMZ zone [ Demilitarized Zone]
  • DOS operating system [Disk Operating System]
  • ESOP plan [Employee Stock Option Plan]
  • GIF format [Graphic Interchange Format]
  • GMT time [Greenwich Mean Time]
  • GOP party [Grand Old Party]
  • GRE exam [Graduate Record Examination]
  • HIV virus [Human Immunodeficiency Virus]
  • HTML language [Hypertext Markup Language]
  • ICU unit [Intensive Care Unit]
  • ISBN number [International Standard Book Number]
  • ISDN network [Integrated Services Digital Network]
  • LAN network [Local Area Network]
  • LCD display [ Liquid Crystal Display]
  • LED diode [Light Emitting Diode]
  • NATO organization [North Atlantic Treaty Organization]
  • OPEC countries [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries]
  • PC computer [Personal Computer]
  • PIN number [Personal Identification Number]
  • Please RSVP [Répondez S'il Vous Plaît: lit. reply, please]
  • P.M. in the evening [Post Meridiem: lit. after noon]
  • RAM memory [Random-Access Memory]
  • SALT talks [Strategic Arms Limitation Talks]
  • SAT test [Scholastic Aptitude Test]
  • SCSI interface [ Small Computer System Interface]
  • START treaty [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty]
  • UPC code [Universal Product Code]
  • VAT tax [Value Added Tax]
  • VIN number [Vehicle Information Number]
By the way, an acronym can be pronounced as if it were a word (CAD, DOS, PIN, RAM). If the initials are read individually, the abbreviation is known as an initialism (FBI, GOP, HTML, SAT).

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