Unpronounceable bioinformatics database names

First a quick reminder that an acronym is something that is meant to be pronounced as an entire word (e.g. NATO, AIDS etc.). Sometimes these end up becoming regular, non-capitalized, words (e.g. radar, laser).

In contrast, an initialism is something where the component letters are read out individually (e.g. BBC, CPU). In bioinformatics, there are also names which are part acronym and part initialism (e.g.GWAS…which I have only every heard pronounced as gee-was).

Most initialisms that we use in everday life tend to be short (2–4 letters) because this makes them easier to read and to pronounce. As you move past 4 letters, you run the risk of making your initialism unprouncible and unmemorable.

So here are some recently published bioinformatics tools with names that are a bit cumbersome to repeat. For each one I include how someone might try to pronounce them. Try repeating these names quickly and for an added test, see how many of these names you can remember 5 minutes after you read this:

5 characters

6 characters

7 characters

And the winner goes to…


If you want people to actually use your bioinformatics tools, then you should aim to give them names that are memorable and pronounceable.