Acronyms – bah, humbug
During Public Comment time at the Clare Board of Education meeting Monday, Pam Weaver asked if reports including acronyms could be explained. “Sometimes I don’t have any idea what they are talking about,” she told me after the meeting.
I told her I certainly could relate to that!
Being a reporter, I think I should probably know this stuff, but I have to admit sometimes I spend quite a lot of time after I get home looking up what acronyms stand for on the computer – or calling someone and asking humbly what in the world they stand for.
I was feeling pretty dumb over my need to always look it up until I discovered how many there are. You could never memorize all of the them!
Bet you didn’t know there are at least five million acronyms, abbreviations and initialisms floating around out there…
Even the word “acronym” is an acronym. According to funtrivia.com, it was “coined in 1942 by Bell Laboratories and came from the Greek word “akros” meaning tip or end and the suffix “nym” or name. So an acronym is formed by taking the “tip” or first letters of each name.
Something fairly new in recent years is a related term – “backronym” – or an acronym specifically constructed to fit an already existing word.
For example “acronym” itself could stand for “A Capitalized Representation of Names You Memorize!” Someone said the word golf stood for “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden” but most sources say it came from the Scottish name for the game – “gouf” or “gowf.”
You can find acronyms everywhere these days. Did you know the British law enforcement computer system is “HOLMES” which stands for “Home Office Large Major Enquiry System?”
The comedy M*A*S*H* stands for “Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.” The asterisks don’t mean anything evidently, but they look good.
The Australian airline Quantas Airways Limited was originally an acronym for “Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services.”
When you are talking about computers it really gets complicated. RAM or commonly “Random Access Memory” is also an acronym for 90 other different things from “Repair and Maintenance” to “Reverse Annuity Mortgage” or even “Radioactive Material.”
There’s DOS which could be “Direct Operating System,” or maybe one of 58 other things like “Department of State” or maybe “Dreaded Orange Spots” (in soap making, that indicates the soap has gone rancid).
My personal favorite is CRUD, which means, Create, Retrieve, Update, Delete. I have CRUD on my computer all the time…
|Some acronyms are all in capital letters, while others have become so common they have become words and we have forgotten that they ever meant anything else. For example, laser actually means “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation;” scuba actually means “Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus,” or maybe “Something’s Creepy Under Boat, Andy” (I mean who really knows for sure?|