In computer networking (my field), there is a term, Network Address Translation, which almost always takes its acronym form “NAT,” and is pronounced like we say gnat (the annoying little insect). NAT often gets used as a verb (as in the word “translate”). For example, somebody might say one of the following:

  • You should NAT that address as
  • What are you NAT(t)ing that device as?
  • That gets NAT(t)ed as

When speaking, we say this kind of thing all the time. But when writing it in an e-mail, it has always bothered me as to how to express the second two examples... should it be NATed (which doesn’t fit English’s pronunciation guidelines of two Ts to make a soft a), or NAT’ed; NATing, NATting (looks stupid), or NAT’ing?

In the past I have often just skipped it by saying translating or translated, but that’s not how we talk when we use the term, so it seems artificial.


4 Answers 4


I'm pretty sure there aren't any rules concerning this, it's something that is fairly new to English and, as far as I am aware, it is colloquial. Regardless, I think that it is generally acceptable to put the acronym in upper case ("NAT") + the standard ending for the conjugation you want ("ing"), without accommodating for the more specific rules regarding the conjugation. In more formal documents, I generally manipulate the rest of the sentence to accommodate the use of the acronym without any modification (e.g. "I was NATing" becomes "I was using NAT").

  • SpadeANDarcher's "I was NATing" becomes "I was using NAT" is brilliant while we're on the cutting edge of language. If that form settles into common usage, at least the "AT" and quite possibly the whole "NAT" will lose their capitalization. If you're certain it will catch on, drop all the capitals. If you're halfway sure, keep the cap "N". If you want to use it but really doubt it will catch on, keep the caps "NAT". Sep 2, 2016 at 22:50
  • @RobbieGoodwin: Does the notion of dropping the capitalisation altogether not rely on "nating" becoming a well understood word by itself, without needing to understand that it derives from NAT? Though its base derivation is a bit more obvious in this example, "to google" has widened in meaning, to a point where you could say "I google things with Bing too", therefore "to google" has surpassed the reference to Google itself and the verb now lives its own life, so to speak.
    – Flater
    Aug 31, 2017 at 12:23
  • Duh… what? Would you mind re-phrasing that in English? Aug 31, 2017 at 21:21

There are three languages in my family (each spouse brought a language to the relationship, but we live in an English-speaking country), so we find ourselves bringing words and expressions into one language or another on a regular basis. Based on these experiences, I propose


if you want to be formal. But for an email to anyone but a professor you've never met, I'd suggest


  • I don't like "NATTed" because it looks like the acronym is "NATT". I guess "NATted" looks weird, but if you're keeping the capitalization, I would go for "NATed" without doubling the consonant.
    – herisson
    Jul 26, 2017 at 22:32
  • @sumelic - If I saw NATed, I'd pronounce it with a long A. I guess I'd rather see the parentheses. (I personally don't go for the apostrophe.) Jul 29, 2017 at 1:21

I suggest turning the acronym into a word, which sometimes happens when acronyms are used frequently and understood as words in a community of people. Make it a word, the verb "to nat," and then you can conjugate it thusly: I nat, you nat, he/she/it nats, we nat, they nat; I natted... I am natting.... he natted, he has natted, etc.


Changing the tense of an acronym is usually as simple as retaining capitalization of the acronym and appending the modifier in lower case. As long as you aren't changing the acronym, e.g. NATT, this keeps its identity intact and recognizable. NATed would be the appropriate choice here.

I strongly object to the form cc'ing or NAT'ing, because CC is the acronym for "carbon copy", not cc. An apostrophe in this context signifies omission of part of the word, which is not the case here.

If you have typesetting or styling ability, changing the typeface of the acronym would be kind to the reader, as well.

  • CC is not an acronym (unless you pronounce it "Kuh-kuh").
    – Davo
    Aug 31, 2017 at 12:42
  • @Davo It's pronounced "see-see".
    – Suncat2000
    Sep 15, 2017 at 13:26
  • Downvotes, really? Hmm. That would mean grammar and spelling are for other people and this site does not exist for education.
    – Suncat2000
    Sep 15, 2017 at 13:30
  • Pronounced "see-see" makes it an initialism, not an acronym.
    – Davo
    Sep 15, 2017 at 13:52

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