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The Indefinite Article.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Is there a word that means something like “a word that was once an acronym”.

Radar, laser etc are [insert the word] , in other words, they are words that were once acronyms: Radar (Radio Detection and Ranging), Laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation).

I am always a wondering on the what words are “forgotten acronyms”.


  • speaking of this, i've seen LOL used as a word on a billboard to describe a night of t.v. events on the WB. I just shook my head when i saw it.

    By Blogger Killy, at 10:28 AM  

  • I think it is still an acronym.

    Wikipedia entry for acronym

    By Blogger Ethan, at 10:45 AM  

  • well, i didn't say it wasn't an acronym. it was used on the billboard as an adjective, as in "Lol weekenights!" or something of that nature.

    i guess the most telling thing would be if they spelled it Lol, rather than LOL. I can't recall how it spelled. All that needs to happen now is for Conan or Kimmel to use it in a monologue (even better, the cue card guys, rather than 'applause' might start using Lol) and we'll have a new forgotten acronym.

    One of my sisters types LOL after everything i say. it's really annoying.

    By Blogger Killy, at 11:18 AM  

  • How do you pronounce "LOL" do you say : "Loll" or do you says "Laugh Out Loud" or "Ell Oh Ell" ?

    Also, I guess that I am curious about words that are discovered to have been acronyms.

    For example, if one day a text is found that determines that "Asparagus" comes from a latin acronymn "A.P.G.S" which stood for something like "Agricolae Por Gargantus Salivusnus".

    If such a text were found,it would not be useful to say the word was an acronyn; but it would neat to note that it once was an acronym.

    By Blogger pablo, at 11:38 AM  

  • Killy: I was responding to Pablo's question.

    By Blogger Ethan, at 11:53 AM  

  • Pablo: Why would it not be useful to note that it is an acronym? In what sense is it useful to note that it once was an acronym? At what point does a word cease being an acronym? This strikes me as a "tree falling in the forest" type argument.

    By Blogger Ethan, at 12:06 PM  

  • I wrote that it would not be useful to describe such a word [a word that was discovered to have been an acronym] as an acronym, but it would be "neat", i.e. "interesting" to note that it was once an acronym.

    I think it would be "neat" because I am curious about such words.

    So you see, I do not argue that it would be useful to note that a word was once an acronym.


    I think that a word ceases to be an acronym, when it is forgotten to have be one. That is why I tried to clarify in my comment that I am curious about words that were discovered to have been acronymns, i.e. they are words that are in current usage, but were forgotten to have been acronymns, and in that sense, until the recent discovery otherwise, they had ceased to be acronyms...

    By Blogger pablo, at 12:37 PM  

  • I think it is useful in an academic kind of way. There is a whole field for word histories called etymology. Loads of people find it fascinating. I think another interesting recent effect of technology on words is when are urled into some unintended anagram, like Pen Island != Penis Land or Boomerang's Pies != Boomerang Spies.

    By Blogger Adolph, at 1:10 PM  

  • Pablo: Forgotten by whom? All of society? I don't understand why it is not an acronym just because some portion of society is ignorant of its acronym status.

    By Blogger Ethan, at 1:22 PM  

  • By forgotten I mean, "forgotten by everyone".

    And if a word was forgotten to be an acronymn by all users of the language, and subsequentally re-discovered to be an acronym, then I suppose it could be and perhaps should be techincally described as an acronym, because as you suggest, in such scenario some people (the discoverers) would know that it was indeed an acronym, whilst the rest of the universe would not know this.

    I suppose the situation gets even more complicated when multiple languages are involved: a word in english, comes the pronounciation of a word in latin that is an acronym in greek.

    Anyhow, I think it would neat to know if there is a word, that describes a word that goes through this sort of acronymicalicious rebirth.

    By Blogger pablo, at 2:32 PM  

  • If such a word exists, it is probably German.

    By Blogger Ethan, at 2:44 PM  

  • what about 'anachronym'?

    By Blogger todd, at 7:12 PM  

  • anachronym!

    By Blogger pablo, at 11:42 AM  

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