What does CW stand for? It's a question we still receive, after years on the air.
From a practical marketing standpoint, The CW "stands for" The CW. Just as you'd never question the meaning of CBS, ABC, NBC or Fox, the folks at the top of The CW network expect that you simply accept the brand name AS the brand name -- and leave it at that.
Of course, many of you do know that the original BIG THREE network names are abbreviations (though -- admit it now -- you never use the full names when referring to them). CBS is Columbia Broadcasting System (Or at least, it was. Really, it's just CBS now). NBC is/was National Broadcasting Company. ABC is/was American Broadcasting Company. Again - the original names are rarely, if ever, used - by ANYONE.
As for Fox. Well, it is what it is - a name . . . a brand. FBC would be the more traditional way to brand Fox (Fox Broadcasting Company). Where did "Fox" come from? Well, it's taken from Twentieth Century Fox -- it's "sister" company.
Like Fox, The CW does have roots that led to the brand. The CW is essentially a melding of two previously existing TV networks - UPN ("United Paramount Network") and "The WB" from Warner Bros.
UPN was a division of CBS. When CBS and Warner Bros decided to combine forces and create a new single network from the two original ones, they needed a "working name" for the new network. They took the C from CBS and The W from Warner.
When they made the original announcement in January 2006, they used this working title. Some critics (and some members of the public, as well) ridiculed the name as "lame." There was some consideration given to changing it as the plans to launch were underway. However, as launch date approached (September 18, 2006), market research indicated that fans of programming from UPN and The WB were very familiar with "The CW." So it stuck.
So, if you really feel the need to apply a "full name" to the network, you could consider The CW to be the "CBS-Warner Bros." network.
But, it's not.
It's just "The CW" (operated by CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment).