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. – LocustHorde May 3 '11 at 17:25
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    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 May 3 '11 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 May 3 '11 at 19:29
  • Especially since initialism is such a horrible word to say. – Matt E. Эллен May 4 '11 at 14:00
  • There have been many goods answers to this similar question. – Luc Touraille Jun 26 '12 at 13:47

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


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  • Yup, definitely "expansion". – SamB May 4 '11 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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