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The A to Z of Electronics

A-Z Electronics Glossary

Welcome to our A to Z of electronics search

In every industry there is a huge amount of jargon thrown around.  Acronyms make life easier when you’re working within the industry all the time, but can make it tough for you, particularly if you’re not an electronics engineer. If we do start spouting jargon at you, please accept our apologies and you have our permission to pull us up on it.  As you’re reading through this website, we hope that this page will provide you with the definitions you need to fully understand what we are going on about! If you have a question about electronics design or anything else send us a question, we’ll always be happy to hear from you. If you want more resources try our blog full of free top electronics tips

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Acronym or AbbreviationWhat is stands forWhat it means
AAmperea unit of electric current equal to a flow of one coulomb per second.
ACAlternating Currentan electric current that reverses its direction many times a second at regular intervals, typically used in power supplies.
ADCAnalogue to Digital Convertera system that that converts an analogue signal, such as sound from a microphone, into a digital signal to be processed by a microprocessor
AMAmplitude Modulationthe modulation of a wave by varying its amplitude, used especially as a means of broadcasting an audio signal by combining it with a radio carrier wave.
ASCIIAmerican Standard Code for Information Interchange7-bit character set containing 128 characters. It contains the numbers from 0-9, the upper and lower case English letters from A to Z, and some special characters
BASICBeginners all-purpose symbolic instruction codea family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages whose design philosophy emphasizes ease of use
BCDBinary Coded Decimalbinary codings of decimal numbers. Each decimal digit is represented by a fixed number of bits, usually four or eight
BERBit Error Ratethe rate at which errors occur in the transmission of digital data,
BGABall Grid Arraya type of surface-mount packaging (a chip carrier) used for integrated circuits. BGA packages are used to permanently mount devices such as microprocessors, instead of using pins for connections BGAs use a grid of solder balls
BIOSBasic Input Output Systemnon-volatile firmware used to perform hardware initialization during startup and to run the operating system
BITSmallest unit of storagestores a '0' or '1' in memory using electric charge or other state change
BJTBipolar junction transistor a type of transistor that uses both electron and hole charge carriers. In contrast, unipolar transistors, such as field-effect transistors, only use one kind of charge carrier.
BLEBluetooth Low Energya wireless personal area network technology designed and marketed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (Bluetooth SIG) aimed at novel applications in the healthcare, fitness, beacons, security, and home entertainment industries.
BNCBayonet Neill–ConcelmanMiniature quick connect radio frequency connector for coaxial cable
BYTECollection of Eight BitsA group of eight bits
CThe C Programming LanguageC is a programming language used for developing firmware or portable applications. C was developed at Bell Labs by Dennis Ritchie for the Unix Operating System in the early 1970s.
CADComputer Aided Designthe use of computer systems (or workstations) to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design
CANController Area Networka robust vehicle bus standard designed to allow microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other in applications without a host computer
CCDCharge Coupled Devicedevice for the movement of electrical charge between capacitative bins
CDMACode Division Multiple Accessa channel access method used by various radio communication technologies
CMOSComplimentary Metal on Silicon a technology for constructing integrated circuits.
CODECCOde DECodea codec is a device or computer program for encoding or decoding a digital data stream or signal.
DACDigital to Analogue Converter a digital-to-analog converter is a system that converts a digital signal into an analog signal
dBmdB (decibel) referenced to 1 milliwattused in radio, microwave and optical communications dBm is an absolute unit
DCDirect Currentelectric current flowing in a constant direction, distinguishing it from alternating current (AC)
DDRDouble data rate (memory)in computing, a computer bus operating with double data rate (DDR) transfers data on both the rising and falling edges of the clock signal. This is also known asdouble pumped, dual-pumped, and double transition. The term toggle mode is used in the context of NAND flash memory
DVMDigital Volt-metera digital voltmeter (DVM) measures an unknown input voltage by converting the voltage to a digital value
ECNEngineering Change Noticea document authorizing and recording design changes throughout the prototyping and life-cycle phases of a product. ECN documentation contains the justification for changes made to a component or system once the initial design is complete
EEPROMElectrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memoryuser-modifiable read-only memory (ROM) that can be erased and reprogrammed (written to) repeatedly through the application of higher than normal electrical voltage. Unlike EPROM chips, EEPROMs do not need to be removed from the computer to be modified.
EMCElectromagnetic Compatibilitythe branch of electrical engineering concerned with the unintentional generation, propagation and reception ofelectromagnetic energy which may cause unwanted effects such as electromagnetic interference (EMI) or even physical damage in operational equipment.
ESDElectrostatic Dischargesudden flow of electricity between two charged objects caused by contact, an electrical short, or dielectric breakdown
ESREquivalent Series ResistanceIn a non-electrolytic capacitor and electrolytic capacitors with solid electrolyte the metallic resistance of the leads and electrodes and losses in the dielectric cause the ESR. Typically quoted values of ESR for ceramic capacitors are between 0.01 and 0.1 ohms.
ETSIEuropean Telecommunications Standards InstituteA European Standards Organization developing World Class Standards in Europe for global use.
FFarad (units of capacitance)The farad (symbol: F) is the SI derived unit of electrical capacitance, the ability of a body to store an electrical charge. It is named after the English physicist Michael Faraday.
FCCFederal Communications Commissionan independent agency of the United States government created by statute (47 U.S.C. § 151 and 47 U.S.C. § 154) to regulate interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. 
FDMAFrequency Division Multiple Accessa communications technique where a frequency band is divided into multiple slots
FECForward Error Correctiona technique used for controlling errors in data transmission over unreliable or noisy communication channels.
FETField Effect Transistor an electronic device that uses an electric field applied between the gate and source connections to control the flow of current
FMFrequency Modulationthe modulation of a radio or other wave by variation of its frequency, especially to carry an audio signal.
FMEAFailure Mode Effects Analysisa step-by-step approach for identifying all possiblefailures in a design, a manufacturing or assembly process, or a product or service
FPGAField Programmable Gate Arrayan integrated circuit designed to be configured by a customer or a designer after manufacturing – hence "field-programmable".
FR-4Flame Resistant 4 (PCB substrate)a NEMA grade designation for glass-reinforced epoxy laminate material. FR-4 ... FR-4 is a common material for printed circuit boards (PCBs).
FSKFrequency Shift Keyinga frequency modulation scheme in which digital information is transmitted through discrete frequency changes of a carrier signal.
FTPFoiled Twisted Paircableing with foil shielding around the twisted cable pairs
GaNGallium Nitridea binary III/V direct bandgap semiconductor commonly used in light-emitting diodes since the 1990s.
GbEGigabit Etherneta term describing various technologies for transmitting Ethernet frames at a rate of a gigabit per second (1,000,000,000 bits per second), as defined by the IEEE 802.3-2008 standard.
GFSKGaussian Frequency Shift Keyinga frequency modulation scheme in which digital information is transmitted through discrete frequency changes of a carrier signal. 
GPRSGeneral Package Radio Servicea packet oriented mobile data standard on the 2G and 3G cellular communication network's global system for mobile communications (GSM).
GSMGlobal system for mobile communicationa digital mobile telephony system that is widely used in Europe and other parts of the world.
HHenrys (unit of inductance)the SI unit of inductance. It is named after Joseph Henry (1797–1878), the American scientist who discoveredelectromagnetic induction
HALTHighly Accelerated Lifetime Testinga stress testing methodology for enhancing product reliability
HMIHuman Machine Interfacein its simplest terms, includes any device or software that allows you to interact with a machine.
HTMLHyperText Markup Languagethe standard markup language for creating web pages and web applications.
I2CInter ICa synchronous, multi-master, multi-slave, packet switched, single-ended, serial computer bus invented in 1982 by Philips Semiconductor
ICIntegrated Circuit a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece (or "chip") of semiconductor material, normally silicon
ICEIn-Circuit Emulationthe use of a hardware device or in-circuit emulator used to debug the software of an embedded system.
IDEIntegrated Development Environmenta software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development. An IDE normally consists of a source code editor, build automation tools, and a debugger
IECInternational Electrotechnical Commissionan international standards organization that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies
IPInternet Protocol the main communications protocol for relaying data across network boundaries. Its routing function enables internetworking, and essentially establishes the Internet.
JEDECJoint Electron Device Engineering Councilan independent semiconductor engineering trade organization and standardization body. JEDEC has over 300 members, including some of the world's largest computer companies
JTAGJoint Test Action Groupan industry standard for verifying designs and testing printed circuit boards after manufacture. JTAG implements standards for on-chip instrumentation in electronic design automation as a complementary tool to digital simulation
KBPSKilobits per seconda unit of data transfer rate equal to: 1,000 kilobits per second. 1,000,000 bits per second. 125,000 bytes per second.
KWHKilowatt Hoursa unit of energy equal to 3.6 megajoules. If energy is transmitted or used at a constant rate over a period of time, the total energy in kilowatt hours is equal to the power in kilowatts multiplied by the time in hours.
LANLocal Area Networka computer network that links devices within a building or group of adjacent buildings, especially one with a radius of less than 1 km.
LASERLight Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiationa device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation".
LDOLow Drop Out Regulatora DC linear voltage regulator that can regulate the output voltage even when the supply voltage is very close to the output voltage
LEDLight Emitting Diodea two-lead semiconductor light source. It is a p–n junction diode that emits light when activated.
LTELong Term Evolution4G wireless broadband technology
LoRaLong Range (Radio Communication)LoRa Technology offers an efficient, flexible and economical solution to real-world problems in rural and indoor use cases, where cellular and Wi-Fi/BLE based networks are ineffective. 
MACMedium Access Controla sublayer of the data link layer (DLL) in the seven-layer OSI network reference model. MAC is responsible for the transmission of data packets to and from the network-interface card, and to and from another remotely shared channel.
MCUMicrocontroller Unita small computer on a single integrated circuit. In modern terminology, it is similar to, but less sophisticated than, a system on a chip or SoC; an SoC may include a microcontroller as one of its components
MDIOManagement Data Input/Outputalso known as Serial Management Interface (SMI) or Media Independent Interface Management (MIIM), is a serial bus defined for the Ethernet family of IEEE 802.3 standards for the Media Independent Interface, or MII
MPUMicroprocessor Unita computer processor that incorporates the functions of a central processing unit on a singleintegrated circuit (IC), or at most a few integrated circuits.
NCNot Connecteda connection on an integrated circuit that is deliberately not connected. These may be used in production for test or may simply be not required
NEPNoise Equivalent Powera measure of the sensitivity of a photodetector or detector system. It is defined as the signal power that gives a signal-to-noise ratio of one in a one hertz output bandwidth. An output bandwidth of one hertz is equivalent to half a second of integration time.
NFNoise Figuremeasure of degradation of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), caused by components in a signal chain. It is a number by which the performance of an amplifier or a radio receiver can be specified, with lower values indicating better performance.
NFCNear Field Communicationa set of communication protocols that enable two electronic devices, one of which is usually a portable device such as a smartphone, to establish communicationby bringing them within 4 cm (1.6 in) of each other.
OCOpen Collectora common type of output found on many integrated circuits (IC), which behaves like a switch that is either connected to ground or disconnected.
OCXOOven Controlled Crystal Oscillatoran electronic oscillator circuit that uses the mechanical resonance of a vibrating crystal of piezoelectric material to create an electrical signal with a precise frequency
OLEDOrganic LEDa light-emitting diode (LED) in which the emissive electroluminescent layer is a film of organiccompound that emits light in response to an electric current.
OSOperating Systemthe low-level software that supports a computer's basic functions, such as scheduling tasks and controlling peripherals, examples include Linux, Android, and Windows
PCIPeripheral Component Interfacepart of the PCI Local Bus standard. The PCI bus supports the functions found on a processor bus but in a standardized format that is independent of any particular processor's native bus.
PCMPulse Code Modulationa pulse modulation technique in which the amplitude of an analogue signal is converted to a binary value represented as a series of pulses.
PFCPower Factor Correctionpower factor correction is a technique of increasing the power factor of a power supply. Switching power supplies without power factor correction draw current in short, high-magnitude pulses. These pulses can be smoothed out by using active or passive techniques. This reduces the input RMS current and apparent input power, thereby increasing the power factor.
PSKPhase Shift Keyinga digital modulation process which conveys data by changing (modulating) the phase of a constant frequency reference signal (the carrier wave). The modulation is accomplished by varying the sine and cosine inputs at a precise time.
QFNQuad Flat Non-leaded packagea surface mount integrated circuit package with "gull wing" leads extending from each of the four sides.
QOSQuality of Servicethe description or measurement of the overall performance of a service, such as a telephony or computer network or a cloud computing service, particularly the performanceseen by the users of the network.
RAMRandom Access Memorya form of computer data storage that stores data and machine code currently being used. A random-access memory device allows data items to be read or written in almost the same amount of time irrespective of the physical location of data inside thememory.
RCDResidual Current Detectora device that instantly breaks an electric circuit to prevent serious harm from an ongoing electric shock. Injury may still occur in some cases, for example if a human falls after receiving a shock.
RFRadio Frequencya frequency or band of frequencies in the range 100kHz to 10GHz or even 100GHz, suitable for use in telecommunications.
ROMRead Only Memorymemory read at high speed but not capable of being changed by program instructions.
RTOSReal Time Operating System is a software component that rapidly switches between tasks, giving the impression that multiple programs are being executed at the same time on a single processing core
SARSuccessive Approximation Registera type of analog-to-digital converter that converts a continuous analog waveform into a discrete digital representation via a binary search through all possible quantization levels before finally converging upon a digital output for each conversion.
SBCSingle Board Computera complete computer built on a single circuit board, with microprocessor(s), memory, input/output (I/O) and other features required of a functional computer.
SCLSerial Clock (I2C)an interface bus commonly used to send data between microcontrollers and small peripherals such as shift registers, sensors, and SD cards on an I2C bus
SDASerial Data (I2C)the data sent with the serial clock (SCL) on an I2C bus
SFTPShielded and Foiled Twisted PairHigh performance cable where data pairs are twisted together and shielded with foil, the overall cable made of a number of foiled pairs is then contained within an overall screen, often made from flexible braid
SOMSystem On Moduledensely packaged computer system for use in small or specialized applications requiring low power consumption or small physical size for embedded systems
SPISerial Peripheral InterfaceThe Serial Peripheral Interface is a synchronous serial communication interface specification used for short distance communication, primarily in embedded systems.
STEPSTandard for the Exchange of Product model dataan ISO standard for the computer-interpretable representation and exchange of product manufacturing information. Its official title is: Automation systems and integration — Product data representation and exchange.
STPShielded Twisted Paira special kind of copper telephone wiring used in some business installations. An outer covering or shield is added to the ordinary twisted pair telephone wires; the shield functions as a ground.
TCP/IPTransmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocola suite of communication protocols used to interconnect network devices on the internet. TCP/IP can also be used as a communications protocol in a private network (an intranet or an extranet).
TCXOTemperature Controlled Crystal OscillatorTemperature Controlled Crystal Oscillator or Analogue TemperatureCompensated Crystal Oscillator (ATCXO) uses analog sampling techniques to correct the temperature deficiencies of a crystal oscillator circuit, its package and its environment.
TDMTime Division Multiplexinga method of transmitting and receiving independent signals over a common signal path by means of synchronized switches at each end of the transmission line so that each signal appears on the line only a fraction of time in an alternating pattern.
UARTUniversal Asynchronous Receiver Transmittera computer hardware device for asynchronous serial communication in which the data format and transmission speeds are configurable.
UDPUser Datagram Protocolone of the core members of the Internet protocol suite. The protocol was designed by David P. Reed in 1980 and formally defined in RFC 768
ULUnderwriters Laboratorya global independent safety science company with more than a century of expertise innovating safety solutions.
USBUniversal Serial Busan industry standard that establishes specifications for cables, connectors and protocols for connection, communication and power supply between personal computers and their peripheral devices.
UTPUnshielded Twisted Pair a ubiquitous type of copper cabling used in telephone wiring and local area networks (LANs) with pairs of cables twisted together to cancel common mode noise
VVoltage or VoltThe voltage between two points is equal to the work done per unit of charge against a static electric field to move a test charge between two points. This is measured in units of volts (a joule per coulomb); moving 1 coulomb of charge across 1 volt of electric potential requires 1 joule of work
VCOVoltage Controlled Oscillatoran electronic oscillator whose oscillation frequency is controlled by a voltage input. 
VDUVisual Display Unita device for displaying input signals as characters on a screen.
VoIPVoice over IPtransmission of voice and multimedia content over Internet Protocol (IP) networks
VSWRVoltage Standing Wave Ratioa mathematical expression of the non-uniformity of an electromagnetic field (EM field) on a transmission line such as coaxial cable. Usually, SWR is defined as the ratio of the maximum radio-frequency (RF) voltage to the minimum RF voltage along the line. The ideal VSWR is therefore 1:1.
WANWide Area Networka computer network in which the computers connected may be far apart, generally having a radius of more than 1 km.
WDMWavelength Division Multiplexinga technology which multiplexes a number of optical carrier signals onto a single optical fiber by using different wavelengths of laser light.
WLANWireless Local Area Networka wirelessdistribution method for two or more devices that use high-frequency radio waves and often include an access point to the Internet. A WLAN allows users to move around the coverage area, often a home or small office, while maintaining a network connection.
WYSIWYGWhat you see is what you getIt is generally supposed that the phrase 'what you see is what you get', the acronym 'wysiwyg' and the computer interface that they referred to emerged in close succession.
XLReXternal Left Right (audio)The XLR connector is a style of electrical connector, primarily found on professional audio, video, and stage lighting equipment. The connectors are circular in design and have between 3 and 7 pins
XTALCrystalan informal abbreviation for crystals.
YAdmittancea measure of how easily a circuit or device will allow a current to flow. It is defined as the reciprocal of impedance
ZIFZero Insertion Forcea type of IC socket or electrical connector that requires very little force forinsertion.
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