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

Do you know the definition of ISO? This guide will give you all of the information you need on the acronym ISO, like its definition, usage, and more!

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According to Cyber Definitions, the abbreviation ISO has a few different potential meanings. 

One of the most common meanings for ISO is “in search of.” This phrase is often used on websites or online forums like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to list items that a person wants to buy. This is similar to the abbreviations LTB and WTB, which stand for looking to buy and want to buy, respectively.

Let’s take a look at some other meanings for the abbreviation ISO.

What Is the International Organization for Standardization?

ISO can also stand for the International Organization for Standardization. This organization is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and it is responsible for setting international standards for various national organizations. 

This governing body is specifically responsible for commercial standards and industrial standards. It was founded in 1947. ISO requirements include minimum standards, technical specifications, and ISO certification. These are each determined by the best practices decided by the ISO.

Originally, there were different governing bodies, such as the ISA (International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations) in Prague. However, this federation was suspended during World War II. It came back as the UNSCC (United Nations Standards Coordinating Committee), which became the ISO in 1947. 

Interestingly, ISO is not an acronym for International Organization for Standardization since there would be different acronyms in different languages. For example, it would be the IOS in English and the OIN (Organisation Internationale de Normalisation) in French. The founders decided on the short form ISO, coming from the Greek isos meaning equal.

What Is ISO in Photography?

ISO is also a term in photography, which initially referred to film’s sensitivity in a camera. Depending on the brightness, you need a different level of ISO. As the speed of ISO increases, so does the brightness of the photo. 

The film sensitivity or the camera sensor sensitivity indicated by the IDO setting will indicate the grain and brightness. Different ISO levels are needed — a high ISO or low ISO — depending on shutter speed, aperture, low-light, or not enough light. This term is used in both film photography and digital photography.

When Should I Use the Term ISO?

Since the term ISO can stand for many different things, from International Organization For Standardization to in search of, it is important to recognize the context in which a person is using this abbreviation. It is also important to provide proper context to a reader or listener when using this abbreviation. 

To avoid confusion, you can always use the full form of the acronym or provide context clues so that someone you are talking to can understand what you mean. Try using this abbreviation in a sentence today!

What Else Does ISO Mean?

Even with its common meanings, ISO can stand for a few different things. According to The Free Dictionary, there are several different potential meanings for ISO aside from its usage in photography, on marketplace websites, or concerning the International Organization For Standardization. 

Check out this list of alternate meanings for ISO:

  • Intermediary Services Organization
  •  Imperial Symphony Orchestra
  •  Isocyanic Acid (name of substances in an emulsion, chemistry)
  •  [not an acronym] common short name for the International Organization for Standardization; also see Iso- prefix
  •  Isochronous (band)
  •  Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
  •  Inspection of Supplies
  •  International Standards Organization
  •  Information Systems Officer
  •  International Student Office (various universities)
  •  Isolated Power (baseball statistic)
  •  Imamia Students Organization (Pakistan)
  •  Installation Safety Office
  •  Insurance Services Office, Inc. (CMSP and PLSP statistics are reported to this rate making organization)
  •  Insurance Service Organization
  •  Isochronal Inspection (USAF; scheduled maintenance for aircraft)
  •  Independent Sales Office
  •  Intensive Supervision Officer
  •  Independent System Operator
  •  Incentive Stock Option
  •  International Science Olympiad
  •  Intelligence and Security Office(r)
  •  Insurance Support Organization
  •  Installation Support Office
  •  Independent Sales Organization
  •  Indian Student Organization
  •  Israel Symphony Orchestra (est. 1988)
  •  Information Security Operations (various organizations)
  •  Installation Supply Officer

Even More Potential Meanings of ISO

Guess what? The meanings for ISO don’t stop there! Here are some definitions that are even more niche than the previous list:

  • Isochronical Inspection (USAF; phase of aircraft maintenance)
  •  Intraseasonal Oscillation
  •  International Standards Organization (common, but incorrect)
  •  Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (Netherlands student organization)
  •  Information Systems Office
  •  Industry Standards Organization (IEEE-ISTO)
  •  Instructional Services Office (various schools)
  •  Istanbul Sanayi Odasý (Turkish: Istanbul Chamber of Industry)
  •  International Organization for Standardization
  •  Integration Staff Officer
  •  International Satellite Organization
  •  International Switch Operations


Overall, the term ISO can stand for a few different things. First, it can refer to the international standards body known as the International Organization For Standardization. Next, it can refer to a camera setting that controls a film’s or a camera sensor’s sensitivity. 

Finally, it can also mean in search of. This meaning of ISO is a term used on online marketplaces like Craigslist or Facebook to show when someone is looking for a specific product.

Overall, this is a very useful acronym that can stand for many different things, so it is important to provide proper context when using this term in a sentence or online. Good luck!


  1. What Does ISO Mean? | Cyber Definitions 
  2. ISO | The Free Dictionary 
  3. What is ISO? Understanding ISO for Beginners | Photography Life