I can describe "IMHO" as an acronym for "in my humble opinion." How can I describe the reverse processes of translating the acronym into the actual phrase? That is to say, if "IMHO" is the acronym, what do we call "in my humble opinion"?

  • Err, a "full form"? Yes I know it's two words, can't think of any. Commented May 3, 2011 at 17:25
  • 1
    IMHO is not an acronym, unless it is pronounced as if it were a word (i.e. like "im-ho", not "Eye Em Haitch Owe"). Just FYI.
    – Marcin
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 17:44
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    @Marcin: That's definitely true, technically speaking. However, many (if not most) people seem to use acronym for both acronyms and initialisms, such that it is getting harder and harder to argue that the distinction holds anymore.
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 19:29
  • Especially since initialism is such a horrible word to say. Commented May 4, 2011 at 14:00
  • There have been many goods answers to this similar question. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 13:47

2 Answers 2


The spelled-out form of an acronym or initialism (that is, "what it stands for") is called its expansion.


  • Yup, definitely "expansion".
    – SamB
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 4:47

I think you might have answered your own question: definition is probably the best word, though expansion could also work (because an acronym is a type of abbreviation).

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