What if an abbreviation is formed of different letters, not the first letters


I have encountered a very confusing abbreviation form.

ex) an electrical vehicle charging apparatus (EVSE).

I've searched on Google and have found out that the EVSE stands for "electrical vehicle supply equipment." But, in the material I have, the EVSE appeared as an abbreviated form for "electrical vehicle charging apparatus."

I think that maybe the writer used the EVSE for the charging apparatus because the EVSE has a similar function as the charging apparatus.

However, I still think that using EVSE for the charging apparatus is wrong because every first letter should be used to make an abbreviation form and the EVSE in the context I have does not use the first letters of " electrical vehicle charging apparatus" (in my opinion, I think it should be "EVCA.")

To sum up, is it okay to write "electrical vehicle charging apparatus (EVSE)" when the EVSE is an abbreviation form of the electrical vehicle supply equipment?

Grammatical answer would be really grateful. Have a nice day.


Posted 2015-05-26T02:07:05.203

Reputation: 21

2Could you add a link (or add a quotation including the term in question)? The usage in context might be helpful; for example it might imply similarity (or a type of...). – user3169 – 2015-05-26T02:46:19.757

Also note that EVSE stands for "Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment" (note that it's Electric rather than Electrical). I agree with user3169: this question would be better with more context (an excerpt of the text you found such a usage). BTW, welcome to ELL! – Damkerng T. – 2015-05-26T04:24:35.050

As a content writer, I do that. I form an abbreviation to avoid 'keyword density' but that's limited to 'web content writing'. Say, I'm writing something on 'iPhone App Development'. Now, to avoid keyphrase (iPhone App Development) density, I'd first make it abbreviated (IAD) and then go on writing IAD across the article. :) – Maulik V – 2015-05-26T04:55:35.830

PHP scripting language is used by developers for developing websites and web applications. PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. – Rucheer M – 2015-05-26T05:05:38.247

@RuchirM First of all, PHP originally was “Personal Home Page”. Nowadays it means “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor” (which is a recursive backronym). And this has nothing to do with the question. – kirelagin – 2015-05-26T05:11:07.803

@MaulikV: But those letters (IAD) are the first letters of the words in the abbreviated expression. The OP asks about using IPW instead of IAD :) – oerkelens – 2015-05-26T08:10:10.507

The only place where I find this phrase used seems to be a patent application, and even there it's "electric", not "electrical". Its use does strike me as odd, since the abbreviation "SE" simply cannot logically be linked to "charging apparatus". I would put it down to carelessness.

– oerkelens – 2015-05-26T08:16:47.553

I was telling we can *make* abbreviations the way we want. So, EVCA can be formed for Electrical Vehicle Charging Apparatus. You just need to mention it once in the beginning and carry it on! :) @oerkelens – Maulik V – 2015-05-26T08:49:12.227

@MaulikV: But according to the OP, the abbreviation for "Electrical Vehicle Charging Apparatus" was not EVCA, but it was coined as EVSE, which is, to say the very least, confusing and probably careless. Making abbreviation "the way we want"? So if I want to abbreviate Some Very Important Thing as "XQPZ", that would make sense to you? :) – oerkelens – 2015-05-26T09:04:29.583

@oerkelens I see and got your point. Said that, abbreviation or acronym, putting the first letter makes sense. But, that's what I I said in my answer, it cannot be formed. – Maulik V – 2015-05-26T09:38:11.320

I have rolled this back to the original form until the OP clarifies the question. It is clear that an acronym and an abbreviation are different things. Yet we don't know which one the OP is asking about other than by means of the first post, without further clarification by the OP. Plus the OP has yet to link to or provide the exact example they refer to. – None – 2015-05-26T16:27:47.177

3There is no mention that the abbreviation has ever been meant to be an acronym. That interpretation has been read into the question. – None – 2015-05-26T16:30:53.997



If they are synonymous and the terms are regularly used interchangeably, it's probably fine. This term seems to have many different names.

An electric vehicle charging station, also called EV charging station, electric recharging point, charging point, charge point and EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment), is an element in an infrastructure that supplies electric energy for the recharging of electric vehicles, such as plug-in electric vehicles, including all-electric cars, neighborhood electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

Is it possible that the term being used in this case is the brand terminology?

Anyway, we do it all the time, particularly with non-English initialisms or acronyms.

For example:


This is the abbreviation regardless of the language of the speaker.

The official title in English, however, is

International Federation of Association Football/Soccer

We don't change the abbreviation, though.


Posted 2015-05-26T02:07:05.203

Reputation: 25 211

3It is interesting to note that many English acronyms when used in French do get changed (AIDS -> SIDA, NATO -> OTAN) whereas indeed the other way around, speakers of English seem to tend to use the original acronym (e.g. International Organisation for Standardization -> ISO). – oerkelens – 2015-05-26T08:13:07.827

1@oerkelens I believe the French have always shown a lot of ownership of their language. I wonder if perhaps there's a connection. – Catija – 2015-05-26T08:15:12.917


The question asks if it is okay to write "electrical vehicle charging apparatus (EVSE)" when the EVSE is an abbreviation for "electrical vehicle supply equipment".

The question overlooks one important point: a parenthesized text doesn't have to be the abbreviation of the noun that comes before it.

For example, consider:

The North American Telemark Organization (NATO), the nation's largest tele group, offers clinics, workshops, and adventure tours across the country.
(source: Skiing Vol. 52, Iss. 3 (1999); pg. 151, "Accessible adventures" by Susan Schinier, via COCA)

It's obvious that NATO in the parentheses refers to The North American Telemark Organization.

However, let's consider another example:

Left managment 1983 for public service: deputy assistant defense secretary (NATO), ambassador to Austria.
Forbes,Vol. 148 Issue 9, 1991 Forbes 400 p150, 61p, "Billionaires" (cover story) by Seneker, H., Lataniotis, D.

This time NATO is not the abbreviation of deputy assistant defense secretary, but it clarifies what deputy assistant defense secretary the article refers to.

Because @oerkelens mentioned that he found the text in a patent, I searched for the patent and found it. In the patent (US 2014/0114448 A1: Method and apparatus for sharing electric vehicle and electric appliance usage data), there is this text:

[0003] The present invention relates generally to the field of electrical energy supply and usage and more particularly to a method and apparatus for sharing usage data from Electric Vehicles (EVs) and fixed appliances.
[0021] [...] Temperature of the vehicle's interior can be used to engage a cooling system, while still connected to electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE, or colloquially, "EV charger") or otherwise, in advance of a User's return to the vehicle.
[0069] 230 improved appliance management system (here, an EVSE 140 and controller 250) (not shown here is that this controller can have access to similar meter 160 as in FIG. 1)

Later, in the claim section, they wrote:

We claim:
17. A system for improved appliance management comprising:
​   an electric vehicle (EV) in data communication with a first server;
​   an electric vehicle charging apparatus (EVSE) controller also in data communication with said first server, said EVSE controller configured to control said EVSE;
​   [...]

It's quite clear that they did not use EVSE as an abbreviation for electric vehicle charging apparatus. However, "EV charger" or simply "charger" is used to refer to the same thing as electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) in this patent, as stated in [0021] and other items.

The patent uses the term EVSE, EV charger, appliance management system, etc. as defined in [0003], [0021], [0069], and other related items in the patent. Also note that the patent title is about "method and apparatus" (which I believe is for some legal reasons), so naturally the term apparatus would appear in their claims.

With all that said, my opinion is: an electric vehicle charging apparatus (EVSE) controller is fine.

Damkerng T.

Posted 2015-05-26T02:07:05.203

Reputation: 27 649

Nice job! I fell asleep trying to read those stupid documents but you're totally correct. – Catija – 2015-05-26T21:10:08.403


There are no strict rules about how acronyms should be formed. It's up to the person who first forms one to decide about details. If it sounds better words can be omitted like USA not USOA. Sometimes parts of words are used not just the first letter (Benelux). I don't know anything about the specific case you mention but the answer to the headline question is "yes!"

david piper

Posted 2015-05-26T02:07:05.203

Reputation: 801

thanks for the comment. But I am still confused..you mean that the abbreviation of electrical vehicle charging apparatus can be "EVSE" and SE may indicate "S" in the apparatus. Then what about E? I don't see letter E in "charging apparatus." – Zoie – 2015-05-26T05:51:42.613


Okay, so EVSE is used as the abbreviation, not the acronym of "electric(al) vehicle charging apparatus."

So yes it is "okay" to write it.


Posted 2015-05-26T02:07:05.203



Can an acronym be formed of letters other than the first letters of each word?



Because the word 'acronym' does mean

a word formed from the first letters of the words that make up the name of something

Good to note that acronym is different than abbreviation. In abbreviation we take liberty to form a word not always with the first letter. The best example is Mr. Check the word category, it's an 'abbreviation'.

Another example is: 'GPhC' which stands for 'General Pharmaceutical Council'

Maulik V

Posted 2015-05-26T02:07:05.203

Reputation: 66 188


There are several different types of acronym... The Wikipedia page might be interesting to you.

– Catija – 2015-05-26T09:02:54.193


When I saw the title of your question, I thought you were going to bring up an example where someone used letters from the middle of a word and called it an acronym, like XML for "eXtensible Markup Language".

But the example you give seems to me to simply be ... wrong. By no stretch of the imagination is "EVSE" an acronym or abbreviation for "electrical vehicle charging apparatus". The answer to your question, in this context, is just, "No, of course not."

Now I'm not particularly familiar with this technology. It may be that an "electrical vehicle charging apparatus" is a particular type or category of EVSE. Or that "electrical vehicle charging apparatus" is an alternate name for "electric vehicle supply equipment" and both terms mean essentially the same thing. So there may be some sense in which it is valid to refer to an electrical vehicle charging apparatus as an EVSE, but that does not make the latter an "acronym" of the former. Like, "NPO" is an abbreviation for "non-profit organization", and the Red Cross is a non-profit organization, but no one would say that that means that "NPO" is an abbreviation for "Red Cross".


Posted 2015-05-26T02:07:05.203

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