How should I pronounce ACoA - the acronym standing for Adult Children of Alcoholics?


When you say an acronym you should spell out each letter individually.

The only exception to that is when the acronym is well-known enough that there can be no confusion, for example NATO, FIFA or CERN, or when there is an accepted pronunciation (such as "Fannie Mae" for FNMA) or when the initialism forms an already-accepted word.

Some organizations like to decide on the pronunciation of their acronym, and it may be that ACoA has a preferred pronunciation, in which case you should follow that. But if you see an unfamiliar acronym written out, and have to pronounce it, just say the letters.

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    I thought an acronym is when you say a series of capitalisations as if it was a word rather than spelling each letter out, in which case it is just a 'capitalisation'? E.g. LASER is an acronym and TNT is not... – Marv Mills Jun 8 '15 at 14:12
  • Acronym can mean both. Usage decides whether an acronym is pronounced as a word, or spelled out. If it's not accepted as a word, spell out the letters. – DJClayworth Jun 8 '15 at 14:28
  • Well- every day is a school day :) And by "capitalisation" I did, of course, mean 'initialism'... Doh! – Marv Mills Jun 8 '15 at 14:31
  • +1. Would be good if you could add a source who promulgates the "spell it out unless usage dictates otherwise" advice. – Dan Bron Jun 8 '15 at 14:39
  • Thank you for your useful mini-lecture on acronyms :) I just wanted to make it clear that ACoA is not an organization though. It is a concept used by psychologists-practitioners. – Sara Kaley Jun 8 '15 at 18:21

One possibility is ah-ko-ah, but clarity of meaning is key here. If there's a standard usage, then I would suggest following it; I also imagine, however, that some people whose parents were alcoholic might resent being "reduced to a label".

  • Perhaps I haven't made myself clear, but the standard usage was what I wanted to ask about. English is not my native language and I don't live in an English speaking country. I fully agree that people should not be "reduced to a label" and I haven't made this "label" up. The concept is based on a theory that people brought up to alcohol-addicted parent(s) share certain characteristics and known transnationally. One may agree with it or not. I just needed to know how to pronounce it... I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone nor "reduce to a label". Thanks for your answer :) – Sara Kaley Jun 8 '15 at 18:13
  • Oh, no offence - just an aside. I'm prone to rambling when it's the end of an overly-hot summer's day. :-) – Grizzled Jun 8 '15 at 19:38

According to two videos I found on YouTube, speakers typically enunciate each letter of A,C,o,A individually.

I cannot think of any other way of pronouncing it either.

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    Link-only answers are not answers. Please summarize the material found in those videos directly in the text of your post here. – Dan Bron Jun 8 '15 at 13:42
  • Sure! I'll do it. Thank you for providing that information. – Aishwarya A R Jun 8 '15 at 13:51
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    Thank you very much for you answer! :) That's what I thought but I wasn't sure since English is not my native tongue and I haven't thought of YouTube myself :) Thanks again. – Sara Kaley Jun 8 '15 at 18:18
  • @SaraKaley: No problem! – Aishwarya A R Jun 9 '15 at 0:01

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