The Meaning of ASAP: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what the abbreviation ASAP means? This guide will give you all of the information necessary on the acronym ASAP, including its definition, origin, translations, sentence usage, synonyms, and more!

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What is the definition of ASAP?

According to Dictionary and Word Sense English Dictionary, the abbreviation ASAP, also abbreviated A.S.A.P., stands for “as soon as possible.” This adverb phrase can either be pronounced as an initialism, in which each letter is pronounced individually, like “/ˌeɪ.ɛs.eɪˈpi/” or as an acronym in which the abbreviation is pronounced as a word, like “ˈeɪsæp.” This word is used when someone needs something immediately or very quickly, and indicates a sense of urgency. 

This phrase is not strictly reserved for American English or British English, but is present in many other languages. Below is a list of translations of the phrase ASAP into many other languages, from Word Sense.

  • Hebrew: בַּהֶקְדֵּם הָאֶפְשָׁרִי‎ (bahek’dém haef’sharí)
  • Mandarin: 盡快‎, 尽快‎ (jìnkuài), 及早‎ (jízǎo)
  • Hungarian: amilyen hamar csak lehetséges‎
  • Russian: как мо́жно скоре́е‎, как мо́жно быстре́е‎
  • Portuguese: o mais rápido possível‎, o quanto antes‎
  • Czech: ASAP‎
  • Estonian: asap‎, ASAP‎
  • German: so bald wie möglich‎, so schnell wie möglich‎, schnellstmöglich‎
  • Latvian: cik vien drīz iespējams‎
  • Turkish: bir an önce‎
  • Ido: tam balde kam posibla‎
  • French: dès que possible‎, au plus vite‎
  • Finnish: asapa‎, ASAP‎
  • Spanish: lo más rápido posible‎, lo antes posible‎, cuanto antes‎ 

This phrase is also sometimes used in reference to the American rapper ASAP Rocky.

How can the acronym ASAP be used in a sentence?

The acronym ASAP is very common and can be used in numerous different scenarios to express a sense of urgency. However, since this is considered a slang term, it should be reserved for more casual situations. This term is not as casual as something like LOL or OMG, and may still be appropriate in certain professional settings, but should be avoided in very formal settings like letters. Below are a few different examples of ways that the abbreviation ASAP can be used in conversation. This term is used equally in both spoken English as well as text messages, via email, or on social media. 

In this first example, Roberta and her boss Lidya are overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do before a holiday weekend. Lidya shouts to Roberta.

Lidya: Roberta, I need you to get these reports off to New York ASAP!

Roberta: Yes, ma’am! On it right now!

Lidya: Thank you! After that, can you run and get me a coffee? I have a feeling I’m going to need it. Get yourself one, too.

Roberta: Absolutely. I’ll hit the post office and Starbucks right now. Thank you!

Here, Lidya uses the term ASAP to express to Roberta that she needs the reports sent out as soon as possible. In this next example, Tonia is doing her homework in her room when her mother calls upstairs to her.

Mom: Tonia, get down here!

Tonia: I’m in the middle of math homework, can it wait a couple minutes?

Mom: Fine, but after that get down here ASAP! Dinner’s on the table, I don’t want it getting cold.

Tonia: Copy that!

Here, Tonia’s mom expresses urgency through the phrase ASAP to show Tonia that she does not want Tonia’s food getting cold and that she wants Tonia to eat with the rest of the family.

What are synonyms for the phrase ASAP?

There are many different ways that one can express a sense of urgency. To do this, one could use a synonym for ASAP. A synonym is a word or phrase that has the same definition as another word or phrase. People often use synonyms to avoid repeating a word that they have already used, or to grow their vocabulary. The below list of synonyms for ASAP is provided by Thesaurus

  • accelerated
  • cursory
  • going
  • move it
  • a move on
  • on the double
  • brief
  • posthaste
  • harefooted
  • keen
  • nimble
  • snappy
  • quick
  • instantaneous
  • impetuous
  • animated
  • breakneck
  • energetic
  • alert
  • impatient
  • hurried
  • pronto
  • expeditious
  • fleet
  • abrupt
  • expeditive
  • express
  • immediate
  • curt
  • hasty
  • flying
  • mercurial
  • perfunctory
  • sprightly
  • the lead out
  • spirited
  • sudden
  • double time
  • spry
  • brisk
  • agile
  • swift
  • headlong
  • active
  • winged
  • prompt
  • rapid
  • lively

If someone wished to express the opposite meaning of the term ASAP, they could use an antonym. An antonym is the opposite of a synonym, and is a word or phrase that means the opposite of a given word or phrase. The below list of antonyms for ASAP is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • dilatory
  • ponderous
  • imperceptible
  • lagging
  • plodding
  • creeping
  • deliberate
  • lackadaisical
  • heavy
  • easy
  • lethargic
  • indolent
  • laggard
  • procrastinating
  • quiet
  • leaden
  • sluggish
  • dawdling
  • unhurried
  • reluctant
  • crawling
  • postponing
  • tortoiselike
  • inert
  • loitering
  • slow-moving
  • drowsy
  • lazy
  • delaying
  • phlegmatic
  • dreamy
  • moderate
  • negligent
  • leisurely
  • supine
  • sleepy
  • disinclined
  • torpid
  • gradual
  • passive
  • apathetic
  • measured
  • tardy
  • remiss
  • slack
  • idle
  • snaillike
  • stagnant
  • listless
  • slothful
  • inactive

What is the etymology of the acronym ASAP?

According to Etymonline, the acronym ASAP was first seen in 1920 in a list of recommended abbreviations to be used by secretaries in dental offices. One alternate term, also from 1920, is seen in the Walter E. Frencher, DDS article “The Practical Application of the Dental Hygienist in General Practice.” He listed the abbreviation ASAC, which stood for “as soon as convenient.” Now, strictly ASAP is used in casual speech, and it is used in many other industries and conversations outside of dental offices.

Overall, the trending abbreviation ASAP or A.S.A.P. stands for “as soon as possible.” This phrasal adverb is used to express that someone needs something done quickly. This phrase is used to express extreme urgency.