Monday, 14 January 2013

Anacronym

HP Sauce, H.P Sauce, Brown sauce, anacronym, backronym, banacronym
Well, do you know what it stands for?

ANACRONYM

Noun. L20. 
[from AN- + ACRONYM]

An acronym of which the majority of people do not know the words from which its constituent letters are taken (e.g Nicam, scuba).

So we all know what an acronym is: basically a word formed from the initial letters or parts of other words. Examples of this would be BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), USA (United States of America) and CD (compact disc). 

However, a particular type of acronym is the anacronym, in which the word has become so commonly used that we've all forgotten what it stood for in the first place, or even that they're acronyms at all. A couple of examples are: 
  • LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) 
  • SCUBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) 
  • RADAR (Radio Detection and Ranging) 
  • SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging) 
  • TASER (Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle)
  • URL (Uniform Resource Locator) 
Anacronym is also quite a taxing word to use, as I've discovered while talking about this post, because 'anacronym' sounds like 'an acronym'. Therefore, when I've said 'I'm writing about anacronym,' I've been asked 'Which one?' because it sounds like I've said 'I'm writing about an acronym.' And, heaven forbid, were I to write about a specific anacronym (ie. 'I'm writing about an anacronym'), it sounds like I've suddenly developed an-awful stutter. 

When preparing this post, I summoned the help of those that follow Lexicolatry's Facebook page in suggesting further anacronyms. It's more of a challenge than you might think! You can see the discussion on the page by clicking here. It's also worth having a squizz at backronym.

Can you think of any other good anacronyms? Please share them in the comments below. 

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