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An acronym is:

An abbreviation formed by (usually initial) letters taken from a word or series of words, that is itself pronounced as a word, such as RAM, radar, or scuba; sometimes contrasted with initialism.

An initialism is:

A term formed from the initial letter or letters of several words or parts of words, but which is itself pronounced letter by letter.

If I pronounce an initialism, as a word, and not just as letters, does that 'make' it an acronym?

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Please provide links or sources for your definitions. –  JLG Oct 19 '12 at 0:04
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Have you read this article?: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronym_and_initialism –  JLG Oct 19 '12 at 0:09
    
@JLG related: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… –  nohat Oct 19 '12 at 1:24
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1 Answer

If you look at the third definition of acronym, it directly addresses your question. BBC is an acronym, regardless of whether it is pronounced as letters or as a word. RAM (random access memory) is an acronym whether it is pronounced ram or are-aye-em.

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If BBC is an acronym, what would you say was an initialism? –  Roaring Fish Oct 19 '12 at 5:31
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I'd have problems pronouncing BBC as an acronym, unless you mean "Beeb". –  Mr Lister Oct 19 '12 at 7:09
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@RoaringFish BBC is both. See this discussion. Initialisms form a subset of acronyms which are often considered to include terms that are made up with more than just initial letters, such as Interpol (INTERnational POlice)and initial letter terms that are pronounced as words, such as scuba (self contained underwater breathing apparatus) as well as pure initialisms, such as BBC. –  bib Oct 19 '12 at 12:18
    
@bib ~ from your own link: "The term acronym is the name for a word from the first letters of each word in a series of words (such as sonar, created from sound navigation and ranging)." i find it difficultbto pronounce BBC as a word. –  Roaring Fish Oct 19 '12 at 16:04
    
@RoaringFish I don't disagree that BBC is not pronounced as a word. My point was that pronunciation was not a determinant of whether something was an acronym, and that acronyms include several forms. –  bib Oct 19 '12 at 16:34
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