An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of other words and is pronounced as a single word. The purpose of an acronym is to provide a shorthand way of referring to something or someone in order to save time and effort. For example,ROFL stands for rolling on floor laughing, and BRB stands for be right back. Acronyms are most often used in the fields of science, technology, industry, government, medicine, media and education. In these areas acronyms are used to abbreviate lengthy terms or phrases that would otherwise be too cumbersome or difficult to pronounce. For instance, AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome; MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging; and GPS stands for Global Positioning System. Acronyms can also be used in everyday speech as shorthand descriptions of people or places. In this case they are often descriptive rather than literal abbreviations of words. For example, ‘scuba’ stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus; ‘laser’ stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation; and ‘radar’ stands for Radio Detection And Ranging. Acronyms can be both helpful and confusing depending on how well known they are among different groups or communities of people. It’s important when using an acronym to make sure that everyone involved knows what it means in order to avoid confusion or embarrassment.