WITWA: Words I Thought Were Acronyms

Acronyms are fun! They are time-saving, mnemonic devices to remember a series of 2-10 words in a row. Radar, laser, scuba, sonar, aids, and Necco, acronyms are very productive in English. Ancient acronyms include SPQR and INRI. In Linguistics, coming up with a clever or at least memorable acronym for one’s corpus is an very important step in one’s research, apparently. CHILDES is, in fact, full of children’s speech while DOE, COLT, ICAME, ACE, LOB BASE, all fidget their letters to create speakable words. (COLT is Corpus of London Teenage Language.)

Erm, I think we’re losing sight of the real issue here, which is: what are we gonna call ourselves? Erm, and I think it comes down to a choice between “The League Against Salivating Monsters” or my own personal preference, which is “The Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society.” Erm, one drawback with that: the abbreviation is “CLITORIS.”

I compulsively need to know what acronyms stand for. I think I have acronym disease (AD). Because of this condition, I loathe recursive acronyms. Recursive acronyms can go die in a hole, I hate them so much. They are acronyms which include the full acronym as part of its composition. It’s like saying “I have a secret, and that secret is that I have a secret.” Why did you pretend you were going to tell me something real? You are full of lies. VISA stands for VISA International Service Association. WINE stands for WINE is not an emulator. There’s no closure! Don’t you just want to punch them in the face?! Borrowing from my York linguist friends, recursive acronyms are the WORST.

Acronyms vs Initialisms

The definitions of acronym and initialism can go a number of ways but my understanding is that ‘acronym’ applies to all abbreviated initial-based words like NASA and CIA. Initialisms are then a subset of acronyms, acronyms whose letters are spoken individually rather than said together as a word. U.S.A. is an initialism, because no one says [usa]. Initialisms tend to be consonant heavy without an obvious pronunciation, though USA and CIA both buck that. FBI is another initialism, though I guess it could rhyme with rib-eye. Some acronyms are only part-initialism as in .jpeg [dʒeɪ pɛg] and CD-ROM [sidi rɔm].

Words I Thought Were Acronyms

1. Fob. At PECI, I had a ‘key fob’ which changed numbers every 60 seconds to ensure that no one could log into the system and steal all the valuable boring washing machine serial number data we had catalogued. It made me feel like a superspy. Fob’s an odd word, and it sounded artificial to me, so I looked it up and found out that it comes from German meaning ‘small pocket.’ This is the same word as in watch fob, most well known for being in the awful short story, Gift of the Magi. (What’s the big deal, guys? Hair grows back!)

2. Hob. In York, I share a kitchen with 5 other students. Hob is the UK word for stovetop, and again it sounded odd to me so I looked it up. (Maybe because hob & fob rhyme?) I thought it might be an acronym or proprietary eponym like how Hoovering is used instead of vacuuming here, but no! Hob is mysterious. It is defined as ‘side of a fireplace’ and an ‘alteration of hubbe’ but otherwise, its language origin story before the 1500s remains a mystery…

I was part of the Data Entry Processing Team Department at PECI. April 16, 2012

in Autobiographical,Words & Origins

Leave a Comment

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Previous post:

Next post: