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40 Business Acronyms and Business Abbreviations You Should Know

These days, we don’t always have the time to use full words or speak in complete sentences. The advent of text-speak and internet lingo has conditioned many of us to seek out the most efficient routes of communication. While far from a novel invention, acronyms’ prevalence makes knowing the most common ones imperative. Below are 40 useful terms parsed out, as well as a bit of history on the usage of acronyms.

Since the times of ancient Rome, acronyms helped to alleviate some of the burdens of wordiness. Several acronyms coined during the Roman Empire are still in use today, such as AM and PM (ante meridiem and post meridiem, meaning “before noon” and “after noon”), and also AD, which denotes the time period after the birth of Christ and comes from the Latin anno domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord.”

As the Industrial Revolution took hold across the Western world in the 19th century, acronyms spread exponentially. They were created for corporations, railroads, stock exchanges, telecommunications, oil and gas, and numerous other enterprises that utilized technical language at an increasing rate. The 20th century added to the mix a host of acronyms related to the implements of war: tanks, planes, and weaponry possessed an intricate lexicon all their own – one that called for condensing and shortening information to be passed on as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Today, many of our acronyms stem from the world of information technology. While the plethora of letter jumbles may, at times, seem more daunting than the words themselves, the expediency and pith of acronyms make them a well-loved form of communicating complex ideas.

40 Useful Business Acronyms and Abbreviations

ABC – always be closing
ASAP – as soon as possible
B2B – business to business
B2C – business to consumer
CAD – computer-aided design
CEO – chief executive officer
CFO – chief financial officer
CIO – chief investment officer/chief information officer
CMO – chief marketing officer
COO – chief operating officer
CTO – chief technology officer
DOE – depending on experiment
EBITDA – earnings before interests, taxes, depreciation and amortization
EOD – end of day/end of discussion
ERP – enterprise resource planning (business management software that a company can use to store and manage data from every stage of business)
ESOP – employee stock ownership plan
ETA – estimated time of arrival
FYI – for your information
HTML – hypertext mark-up language
IPO – initial public offering
ISP – internet service provider
KPI – key performance indicators
LLC – limited liability company
MILE – maximum impact, little effort
MOOC – massive open online course
MSRP – manufacturer’s suggested retail price
NDA – non-disclosure agreement
NOI – net operating income
NRN – no reply necessary
OTC – over the counter
PR – public relations
QC – quality control
R & D – research and development
RFP – request for proposal
ROI – return on investment
RRP – recommended retail price
SEO – search engine optimization
SLA – service level agreement
VAT – value-added tax
VPN – virtual private network

[Photograph: “City, crowded office space” by Adolph B. Rice Studio, September 19, 1955]

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