Posts Tagged ‘slang’

We use acronyms on the regular but has anyone ever heard of a BACKRONYM?

I have noticed recently that I as well as others speak shorter more than ever these days.

I mean I think it’s natch’ that we abbrev’ words and it can be an unfortch’ waste of time to use an exten’ vocab ūüôā

BUT.. I am talking about acronyms.

For those of you “a tiny minority, I hope” who are unaware of what that is…acronyms are mnemonic devices¬†used to¬†put together several words or phrases in which new words are formed.

I’ll give you an example:

the news was going crazy back in 2003 as the SARS disease exploded and spread from Asia to the Americas. The name was on the tongue of every single person who read a newspaper and it became a regular vocabulary word!

Most just called it SARS, because that’s what the newsman said it was. But, it in fact was an acronym!

S.A.R.S actually stood for  Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

These have become such an integral part of our lingo, we use acronyms every single day:

CD = Compact Disc, NATO =North Atlantic Treaty Organization

and

ATM machine: Automated Teller Machine machine < – – always funny in its redundancy.

And of course with the explosion of the internet and short typing there are countless acronyms to speak to someone more quickly:

  • * LOL = laugh out loud
  • * ASL = Age Sex Location
  • * CUL8R = See you later¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ……………..ad infinitum

Curiously though, there are after the fact acronyms. They make the letters stand for something else. These are called Backronyms – – –

From Backronym – Dictionary.com :

backronym definition
jargon
(Backward acronym) A word which has been turned into an acronym by inventing an expansion, rather than the other way around. E.g. “ping”.

Wikipedia.com pointed out the distinct difference between an acronym and a backronym:

By contrast, a backronym is constructed by taking an existing word already in common usage, and creating a new phrase using the letters in the word as the initial letters of the words in the phrase. For example, the United States Department of Justice assigns to their Amber Alert program the meaning “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response”, although the term originally referred to Amber Hagerman, a 9-year old abducted and murdered in Texas in 1996.

It’s a little confusing between the two, I know….

but when you think about how an acronym is formed it can be messy and random

i.e. – FMSHRC = Federal Mine Safety ANd Health Review Commission

VS.

a backronym which takes the word and then adds new meaning like:

FORD = Found On Road, Dead!

A good explanation comes from http://wordsmith.org/words/backronym.html

When naming, sometimes a suitable name is chosen and then an acronym is retrofitted on top of it: the “USA PATRIOT” Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism). The clunkiness of the expansion is a quick giveaway. How about forming a backronym for ACRONYM itself: A Contrived Result Of Nomenclature Yielding Mechanism?

Now, companies and organizations do this all the time, they have an existing word that sounds good and they build off of it as they add a word for each letter. Wisegeek.com asserts:

In some cases, organizations decide on a backronym to make themselves memorable; the National Organization for Women, for example, undoubtedly liked the thought of being referred to as ‚ÄúNOW,‚ÄĚ so they may have chosen their name around the desired acronym.

Many of these “backronyms” end up being words that are made by¬†forming backwards¬†an acronym from a single word. usually it is¬†done for comical¬†effect.

A few examples:

  • ADIDAS –¬†All Day I Dream About Sports.
  • SNAIL – Slimy Nocturnal Animal Invading Lettuce
  • DELTA – Doesn’t Even Leave the Airport
  • PETA – People Eating Tasty Animals

It’s funny because I’m not entirely sure what prompted this pursuit of¬†syntaxical knowledge. I simply thought I should pass on my new knowledge of what a backronym is.

I think a couple of days ago I saw the word and paid it no mind; having looked it up though now I know that I, as well as most others use these every single day.

* BING = Basically it’s Not Google

*OBAMA = Overly Boastful About Minor Accomplishments

It seems that you can go so crazy with finding backronyms that there is even a

Backronym Generator http://www.opbarnes.com/revacron/revacron.php

All Right. Now you know!

Peace!