NSA Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use it

Wondering what the acronym NSA stands for? We can help. Read on to discover the meaning behind NSA, how it’s used, and more.

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What Does NSA Mean?

If you search Dictionary.com, you’ll find the abbreviation NSA, which stands for National Security Agency. By definition, this term refers to the agency within the United States Department of Defense that is in charge of but not limited to intelligence gathering activities and the United States communications security.

The NSA or National Security Agency is presided over by the DNI (refers to the Director of National Intelligence).

On top of its normal duties, the NSA also operates a national computer security center to supplement its defense mission. At its core, the NSA has two critical functions: to seek out soft spots in the counterpart systems of United States adversaries as well as design cryptographic systems to preserve United States communications. 

Origins of the National Security Agency

Some time ago, in 1952, the former United States President Harry S. Truman officially formed the NSA. His goal was for the NSA to perform a very specialized discipline known only as signals intelligence or SIGINT. 

Intelligence gathering by interception of signals or the slightly less winded SIGINT refers to either communication through or between people and/or electronic signals not outspokenly used in communication. 

Different Programs of the NSA

It is commonly known that the NSA listens in on every international phone call made from and to the United States; however, that is just one avenue of the agency’s work; another is in intelligence gathering.

It was believed or maybe hoped that the National Security Agency solely focused its intelligence-gathering internationally; however, this was later proven to be a pipe dream.

Edward Snowden, a former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor, leaked stockpiles of confidential NSA information to not only the international press but the stateside press as well. 

The information Snowden leaked indicated that the NSA had broadened its domestic activities to bulk collection of United States communications. 

The 10 NSA surveillance programs that Snowden leaked to the press were as follows: PRISM, BLARNEY, FAIRVIEW, STORMBREW and OAKSTAR, MARINA, TRAFFIC THIEF and PINWALE, XKEYSCORE, and lastly, BOUNDLESS INFORMANT.

Alternate Uses of the Acronym NSA

Conversely, according to The Free Dictionary, the acronym or abbreviation of NSA can stand for quite a bit more than just what we have touched on thus far. While there are a wide variety of definitions for NSA, these are definitely a bit less well known, and as such, you should use these sparingly. 

When using an alternate definition in the same context that you would originally use, NSA, make sure to provide your listener with proper context or, better even, use the full form of the word as not to confuse them.

Below is a list of alternate meanings provided by The Free Dictionary:

Other Meanings:

  • NSA Nabelschnurarterie (German: Umbilical Cord Artery)
  • NSA Net Sales Area
  • NSA National Software Alliance
  • NSA No Significant Abnormalities (disease assessment)
  • NSA Northern Slope of Alaska
  • NSA Nuclear Support Agency
  • NSA Nippon Supporters Association (Japan)
  • NSA Norwegian Security Act
  • NSA Net Sellable Area (real estate)
  • NSA Nippon Software Industry Association (Japan)
  • NSA No Smoking Area
  • NSA Network Supported Account (Cisco)
  • NSA Never Standing Alone
  • NSA Nichiren Shosu of America
  • NSA Net Server Assistant
  • NSA New Small Airplane (Boeing)
  • NSA National Safety Associates
  • NSA National Scrabble Association
  • NSA Non-State Actor (international relations)
  • NSA Nippon Surfing Association (Japan)
  • NSA National Student Association
  • NSA National Sex Authority
  • NSA National Security Anarchists (hacker group)
  • NSA National Sprint Association (UK)
  • NSA Nebraska Soybean Association
  • NSA Navy Stock Account
  • NSA Nouvelle Substance Active (French: New Active Substance; Canada)
  • NSA National Supers Agency (fictional from the movie The Incredibles)
  • NSA National Safety Association
  • NSA Night Stalker Association
  • NSA National Success Association
  • NSA National Shuffleboard Association
  • NSA Network South Australia (Adelaide, Australia)
  • NSA Neutron Source Assembly
  • NSA Naval Systems Analysis
  • NSA Narrow-Slot Approximation
  • NSA National Sentinel Audit
  • NSA North Star Academy
  • NSA Need Special Assistance
  • NSA National Smokejumper Association
  • NSA National Steeplechase Association
  • NSA National Sound Archive
  • NSA National Security Area
  • NSA NATO Standardization Agency
  • NSA National Smokers Alliance
  • NSA Nippon Steel Australia
  • NSA National Softball Association, Inc.
  • NSA Norcross Soccer Association (Georgia)
  • NSA Naval Supervising Activity
  • NSA National Singles Association (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • NSA National Service Alliance, LLC
  • NSA Non-Semi Auto (concealed handgun license; Texas)
  • NSA Non-Standard Area (of a database)
  • NSA Nantucket Shellfish Association (Nantucket, MA)
  • NSA National Standard Application
  • NSA National Scout Association
  • NSA Node Switching Assembly
  • NSA Natuurwetenschappelijke Studievereniging Amsterdam (University of Amsterdam Physics Department student organization)
  • NSA National Scrapbooking Association
  • NSA Naperville Soccer Association
  • NSA Network Search Algorithm
  • NSA Nikkei Student Association
  • NSA Narrow Slot Aperture
  • NSA Nikkei Siam Aluminium Limited (Pathumtani, Thailand)

No Strings What?

While browsing a dating site (e.g., Zoosk, Hinge, Bumble, Tinder) or app (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat), you may have come across a slightly different definition of NSA. To keep things not that complicated, NSA means “no strings attached.”

Without making any promises of the future, folks that are looking for a no-strings-attached sort of situation are hoping for a more casual sexual encounter. As in, “I’m not looking for a significant other right now, no serious commitment, let’s just have fun.”

In Conclusion

So whether you are talking about the government agency charged with global monitoring, processing of information electronically, or perhaps something with fewer strings attached, you now know the proper definition and usage of the acronym NSA.


  1. NSA – definition of NSA | The Free Dictionary
  2. Edward Snowden says he leaked NSA surveillance program (complete coverage)  |  The Washington Post
  3. NSA | Dictionary.com