Acronyms and Initialisms

French acronyms
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Acronymes et initialismes

Acronyms and initialisms are two very similar types of abbreviations. They are both created by stringing together the first initial of each word in a phrase, but there’s a difference:

  • Acronyms are pronounced as a single word.
  • The letters in initialisms are pronounced individually.

Learning some common French acronyms and initialisms can help you make sense of news, political discussions, administration, and more.

For internet acronyms like mdr and  a+, see French texting.

 Many French acronyms and initialisms do not have an equivalent English abbreviation, and the ones that do often have the same letters in a different order.

AB agriculture biologique   organic farming
ADN acide désoxyribonucléique DNA deoxyribonucleic acid
AEC avant ère commune (calendar era) BCE Before Common Era
AEF Afrique Ă©quatoriale française   French Equatorial Africa
AF allocations familiales   ~ welfare, family allowance
ALENA Accord de libre-échange nord-américain NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement
ANPE Agence nationale pour l’emploi   unemployment and job search agency
AOC Appelation d’origine contrĂ´lĂ©e   guarantee of origin
AOF Afrique occidentale française   French West Africa
API Alphabet phonétique international IPA International Phonetic Alphabet
AR accusĂ© / avis de rĂ©ception   return receipt requested, acknowledgement of receipt
A.R. aller-retour   round trip
ASSEDIC Association pour l’emploi dans l’industrie et le commerce   ~ agency for payment of unemployment
AVC accident vasculaire cérébral CVA cerebrovascular accident, stroke
     
BCBG bon chic bon genre   preppy, Sloaney
BD bande dessinĂ©e   comic strip
BN Bibliothèque nationale   national library
BNP Banque nationale de Paris   large French bank
BP boîte postale PO Box post office box
b.s.t.r. (homme) bien sous tous rapports   clean-living (man)
BTP bâtiments et travaux publics   public buildings and works sector
BTS brevet de technicien supĂ©rieur   vocational training certificate
bx bisous (at the end of a letter)   ~hugs and kisses
     
c-Ă -d, cĂ d c’est-Ă -dire i.e. that is, I mean
CAI Contrat d’Accueil et d’IntĂ©gration   agreement for long-term visitors and residents of France
CAP Certificat d’aptitude professionnelle   vocational training certificate
CB carte bleue, carte bancaire   debit card
CCI Chambre de commerce et d’industrie   Chamber of Commerce
CCP compte chèque postal   postal checking account
CDD contrat Ă  durĂ©e dĂ©terminĂ©e   job contract for a set duration
CDI contrat Ă  durĂ©e indĂ©terminĂ©e   job contract for an indefinite duration
CEDEAO CommunautĂ© Ă©conomique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest ECOWAS Economic Community of West African States
CEDEX courrier d’entreprise Ă  distribution exceptionnelle ~ FedEx Federal Express (early morning delivery service)
CFA CommunautĂ© financière africaine   community of French-African colonies with a shared currency
CFDT ConfĂ©dĂ©ration française dĂ©mocratique du travail   French Democratic Confederation of Labor
CFE-CGC ConfĂ©dĂ©ration française de l’encadrement – ConfĂ©dĂ©ration gĂ©nĂ©rale des cadres   French Confederation of Management – General Confederation of Executives (union)
CFP centre de formation professionnelle   professional training center
CFTC ConfĂ©dĂ©ration française des travailleurs chrĂ©tiens   French Confederation of Christian Workers (union)
CGT Confédération Générale de Travail ~ AFL-CIO American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
Cie compagnie Co. company
CIO Centre d’information et d’orientation   career advisory center
CNED Centre national d’enseignement Ă  distance   number one distance learning organization in Europe
CNR Centre national de recherche   national research institute
COB Commission des opérations de Bourse ~ SEC
~ SIB
Securities and Exchange Commission (US)
Securities and Investments Board (UK)
COD complĂ©ment d’objet direct   direct object
COI complĂ©ment d’objet indirect   indirect object
CP cours prĂ©paratoire   ~ first grade
CPE Contrat Première Embauche   controversial job reform provision introduced in 2006
CQFD ce qu’il fallait dĂ©montrer QED quod erat demonstrandum (thus it has been demonstrated)
CRS Compagnie rĂ©publicaine de sĂ©curitĂ©   riot police squad
CSA Conseil supĂ©rieur de l’audiovisuel ~ FCC French broadcasting regulatory body
CSG contribution sociale gĂ©nĂ©ralisĂ©e   supplemental social security contribution
CUIO Cellule Universitaire d’Information et d’Orientation   organization of university-level study and career counselors
CV curriculum vitae   ~ rĂ©sumĂ©
     
DAB distributeur automatique de billets ~ ATM cash dispenser limited to withdrawals
DALF diplôme approfondi de langue française ~ TOEFL Test of English as a Foreign Language
DEA diplĂ´me d’Ă©tudes approfondies   ~ PhD minus the dissertation
DELF diplĂ´me d’Ă©tudes en langue française ~ TOEFL  
DES diplĂ´me d’Ă©tudes supĂ©rieures   ~ Master’s degree
DESS diplĂ´me d’Ă©tudes supĂ©rieures spĂ©cialisĂ©es   ~ Master’s degree + one year internship
DEST diplĂ´me d’Ă©tudes supĂ©rieures techniques   ~ Master’s degree in technical subject
DEUG diplĂ´me d’Ă©tudes universitaires gĂ©nĂ©rales   ~ Associate degree
DGSE Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure ~ CIA
~ MI6
Central Intelligence Agency (US)
Military Intelligence 6 (UK)
DILF diplĂ´me initial de langue française   ~ TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
DK déca (apocope of décaféiné) decaf decaffeinated
DLC date limite de consommation   use-by date
DLUO date limite d’utilisation optimale   best-before date
DOM-TOM DĂ©partements d’outre-mer et Territoires d’outre-mer   former colonies which remain French territories
DRH directeur de relations humaines   human resources manager
DSK Dominique Strauss-Kahn   French politician accused of sexual assault in 2011
DST Direction de la surveillance du territoire ~ CIA
~ MI5
Central Intelligence Agency (US)
Military Intelligence  (UK)
DT diphtĂ©rie, tĂ©tanos   vaccine against diphtheria and tetanus
     
EC
è.c.
ère commune (calendar era) CE Common Era
EDF ÉlectricitĂ© de France   nationalized French electric company
EHPAD Établissement d’hĂ©bergement pour personnes âgĂ©es dĂ©pendantes   nursing home
ENA École Nationale d’Administration   French school for senior officials / civil servants
É.-U.
É.-U.A.
États-Unis
États-Unis d’AmĂ©rique
US
USA
United States
United States of America
     
F1 familial 1   studio apartment
F2, F3 … familial 2, 3 … (logement avec 2, 3 … pièces)   1 bedroom, 2 bedrooms …
FFI Forces françaises de l’intĂ©rieur   French resistance fighters in WWII
FLN Front de libĂ©ration nationale   Algerian political party
FLQ Front de la libĂ©ration du QuĂ©bec   revolutionary organization in Canada
FN Front National   far-right political party
FNAC FĂ©dĂ©ration nationale d’achats des cadres   ~ Borders (megastore for books, music, movies, + electronics)
FO Force Ouvrière   3rd largest French union confederation
.fr (pronounced point f r)   internet country code for France
     
GAB guichet automatique de banque ATM automated teller machine
gav la garde Ă  vue   ~ police custody
GDF Gaz de France   nationalized French gas company
GE Gentil EmployĂ©e (au Club MĂ©diterranĂ©e)   Club Med employee
G.I.G.-G.I.C. grand invalide de guerre –
grand invalide civile
  severely disabled veteran –
severely disabled person
(found on handicapped parking signs)
GIGN Groupe d’intervention de la gendamerie nationale ~ SWAT
~ SAS
Special Weapons and Tactics (US)
Special Air Service (UK)
GM Gentil Membre (au Club MĂ©diterranĂ©e)   Club Med member/guest
Go giga octet GB gigabyte
GO Gentil Organisateur (au Club MĂ©diterranĂ©e)   Club Med organizer
     
h heure (telling time) o’clock of the clock
Hadopi Haute AutoritĂ© pour la diffusion des œuvres et la protection des droits sur Internet   anti-piracy policing authority
HLM Habitation Ă  loyer moderĂ©   low-income housing
HS hors service   out of order
HT hors taxe   tax not included, subtotal
     
IAC insémination artificielle entre conjoints AIH artificial insemination by husband
IAD insémination artificielle avec donneur AID artificial insemination by donor
IFOP Institut français d’opinion publique   French public opinion research institute
INSEE Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques   national institute for statistics and economic studies
IQF Invitation Ă  Quitter le Territoire   order to a foreigner to leave France
ISF impĂ´t de solidaritĂ© sur la fortune   wealth tax
IVG interruption volontaire de grossesse   abortion
     
J.-C. JĂ©sus-Christ (see calendar eras) JC Jesus Christ
JMJ Journées Mondiales de la Jeunesse WYD World Youth Day
JO Jeux olympiques   Olympic Games
Jour J   D-Day (6 June 1944); the big day
JT journal tĂ©lĂ©visĂ©   news on television
     
K7 cassette   audio or video cassette – used in ads
     
LBD lanceur de balles de dĂ©fense   rubber ball grenade launcher
LCR Ligue Communiste RĂ©volutionnaire   Trotskyist political party in France
LEP lycĂ©e d’enseignement professionnel   vocational high school
LFI La France Insoumise   left-wing populist political party
LlH Longueur, largeur, Hauteur lwh length, width, height
LO Lutte Ouvrière   Trotskyist political party in France
LOA location avec option d’achat   leasing with the option to buy
LR les RĂ©publicains   center-right, conservative political party
(Nicholas Sarkozy, Jacques Chirac)
LaREM
LREM
LRM
La RĂ©publique en Marche !   centrist, liberal political party
(Emmanuel Macron)
     
M.D.J. maison des jeunes et de la culture   ~ youth clum and community center
MEDEF Mouvement des Entreprises de France   largest French job union
MJC Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture   youth cultural center
MLF Mouvement pour la libĂ©ration de la femme   French women’s lib movement
Mo mega octet MB megabyte
MRAP Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitiĂ© entre les peuples   French antiracism movement
     
NAP Neuilly, Auteuil, Passy   preppy, Sloany
NDLR note de la rĂ©daction   editor’s note
NdT note du traducteur   translator’s note
NF norme française   approved French standard of manufacture, ~ seal of approval
NUPES Nouvelle Union populaire Ă©cologique et sociale   alliance of left-wing political parties, including LFI, PS, PCF, etc.
     
OFII Office français de l’immigration et de l’intĂ©gration   French agency for asylum seekers and immigrants
OGM organisme génétiquement modifié GMO genetically modified organism
OLP Organisation de la libération de la Palestine PLO Palestine Liberation Organization
ONG organisation non gouvernementale NGO non-governmental organization
ONU Organisation des Nations unies UN United Nations
OPA offre publique d’achat   takeover bid
OS Ouvrier spĂ©cialisĂ©   unskilled or semi-skilled worker
OTAN Organisation du TraitĂ© de l’Atlantique Nord NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
OVNI Objet volant non identifié UFO unidentified flying object
     
PACS Pacte civil de solidaritĂ©   legal alternative to marriage in France
PAO publication assistĂ©e par ordinateur   desktop publishing
PC poste de commandement HQ headquarters
PC(F) Parti communiste (français)   French Communist Party
Pcc pour copie conforme   certified copy
PCV paiement contre vérification
PerCeVoir
(phone phrases)   collect call
PDG président-directeur général ~ CEO chief executive officer
PEE plan d’Ă©pargne entreprise   ~ 401(k)
PEL plan d’Ă©pargne logement   ~ savings account for purchase of a home
PIB produit intérieur brut GDP gross domestic product
PJ pièces jointes Enc. enclosed in a business letter
PJ Police judiciaire ~ FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation
PLS position latĂ©rale de sĂ©curitĂ©   recovery position; prone on the floor in distress
PMA pays moins avancĂ©s   undeveloped countries
PMU pari mutuel urbain OTB off-track betting
PNB produit national brut GNP gross national product
PNF parquet national financier   National Financial Prosecutor’s Office
po pouce in. inch
PQ paper cul  (cul is homophonous with Q) (familiar) TP toilet paper
PS Parti socialiste   Socialist Party
(François Holland, François Mitterrand)
PSG Paris Saint-Germain   Parisian soccer team
PT Parti des Travailleurs   Trotskyist political party in France
PTT Poste, TĂ©lĂ©communications et TĂ©lĂ©diffusion   post office and telephone service
P.-V. procès-verbal   meeting minutes
automotive ticket or fine
PVD pays en voie de dĂ©veloppement   developing countries
     
qcm questionnaire Ă  choix multiple   multiple choice test
QG quartier général HQ
 
headquarters
local pub
     
RAID recherche, assistance, intervention, dissuasion ~ SWAT
~ SAS
Special Weapons and Tactics (US)
Special Air Service (UK)
R.A.S. rien Ă  signaler (informal)   no problems/issues (on a rental contract)
RATP RĂ©gie autonome des transports parisiens   Paris public transportation authority (mĂ©tro and bus)
rdc rez-de-chaussĂ©e   first floor (US)
ground floor (UK)
(learn more)
REM La RĂ©publique en Marche !   centrist, liberal political party
(Emmanuel Macron)
RER RĂ©seau express rĂ©gional   high speed train service between Paris + suburbs
RF la RĂ©publique française   the French Republic
RIB relevĂ© d’identitĂ© bancaire   summary of bank information (for automatic payments)
RIC rĂ©fĂ©rendum d’initiative citoyenne   direct democracy mechanism demanded by gilets jaunes
RIP rĂ©fĂ©rendum d’initiative populaire   synonymous with RIC
R.M. RĂ©vĂ©rende Mère   Reverend Mother
RMI revenu minimum d’insertion   ~ minimum welfare payment, income support
RN revenu national
route nationale
GNP
 
gross national product
main road
RP relations publiques PR public relations
R.P. RĂ©vĂ©rend Père   Reverend Father
RPR Rassemblement pour la RĂ©publique   French center-right political party
(Jacques Chirac)
RSVP rĂ©pondez s’il vous plaĂ®t   please respond
RTT rĂ©duction du temps de travail   reduction of working hours
rv rendez-vous   meeting, date
     
SA société anonyme Inc.
Ltd.
incorporated
limited
SAMU secours d’aide mĂ©dicale d’urgence   ambulance
SARL société à responsabilité limitée Inc., Ltd limited liability company
SDF sans domicile fixe   homeless (noun or adjective)
S.G.D.G. sans garantie du gouvernement   without official government approval
Sida syndrome immunodéficitaire acquis AIDS acquired immune deficiency syndrome
SMIC salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance   minimum wage
SMIG salaire minimum interprofessionel garantie   (was replaced by SMIC in 1970)
SNCF SociĂ©tĂ© nationale des chemins de fer français   nationalized French train system
SP service de presse   press relations department; review copy (of a book)
SPA Société protectrice des animaux ~ASPCA (US)
~RSPCA (UK)
SRM SociĂ©tĂ© des rĂ©dacteurs du Monde   society of editors of Le Monde newspaper
STP s’il te plaĂ®t (informal)   please
SVA services à valeur ajoutée VAS value-added services
SVP s’il vous plaĂ®t (formal / plural)   please
système D le système débrouillard
le système démerder
(informal)   resourcefulness
     
T1 type 1   studio apartment
T2, T3 … type 2, 3 … (logement avec 2, 3 … pièces)   1 bedroom, 2 bedrooms …
TEPA travail, emploi, pouvoir d’achat   2007 French fiscal package
TGB Très grande bibliothèque   nickname of the Bibliothèque de France
TGV train Ă  grande vitesse   high-speed train
TIG travaux d’intĂ©rĂŞt gĂ©nĂ©ral   community service
TNT télévision numérique terrestre
trinitrotoluène
 
TNT
national digital terrestrial television service
trinitrotoluene
TPS tĂ©lĂ©vision par satellite   TV via satellite
TTC toutes taxes comprises   tax included
TVA taxe sur la valeur ajoutée VAT value-added tax
     
UDF Union pour la dĂ©mocratie française   center-right French political party
(François Beyrou)
U.E. Union européenne EU European Union
U.L.M. ultra-lĂ©ger motorisĂ©   ultralight plane
UMP Union pour un Mouvement Populaire   center-right French political party
(renamed les RĂ©publicains in 2015)
UNL Union Nationale LycĂ©enne   national union for high school students
URSAFF Union pour le recouvrement des cotisations de la sécurité sociale et des allocations familiales ~SSA Social Security Administration
USI unité de soins intensifs ICU intensive care unit
UV unitĂ© de valeur   university course credit
     
vf version française (movie French)   film dubbed into French
VGE ValĂ©ry Giscard d’Estaing   French president 1974-1981
vm version multilingue   film with choice of sound and subtitles
vo
vost
version originale
version originale sous-titrée
  film shown with original audio and French subtitles
VTT vĂ©lo tout terrain (French cycling terms)   mountain bike
     
W.-C. water-closet   bathroom, rest room (US);
toilet, loo (UK)
     
x fois (2x plus, 5x plus) x times (2x more, 5x more)
X l’École Polytechnique   nickname for this polytechnic school in Paris
       
Z.A.C. zone d’amĂ©nagement concertĂ©   urban development zone
Z.A.D. zone d’amĂ©nagement diffĂ©rĂ©   future development zone
ZEP zone d’Ă©ducation prioritaire   zone with special hep for education
ZFE zone Ă  faible Ă©mission LEZ low-emission zone
Z.I. zone industrielle   industrial park
ZICO zone importante pour la conservation des oiseaux IBA important bird area
Z.U.P. zone Ă  urbaniser en prioritĂ©   urban development zone

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