Posted by: Jack Henry | July 27, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Backronyms

We all know about acronyms: abbreviations that are formed from the initial letters of other words and that are pronounced as a word (not as individual letters)—for example, NASA and NATO. Well, a backronym is an existing word that is turned into an acronym.

In other words, the acronym does not create a new word (like NATO), the acronym is a word we already know and use. The example gives is the word rap, which is said to be a backronym of “rhythm and poetry.” Rap was already a word meaning “a quick, sharp blow” before it became the label for an entire musical genre.

We’ve all heard of the AMBER alert; it’s a backronym too. AMBER stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and is named after Amber Hagerman, a child kidnapped in 1996.

Another backronym you might recognize is USA PATRIOT Act, which stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act.”

These examples show how backronyms are created purposefully, with a specific word in mind.

Of course, there are many other backronyms, and now when you hear them, you’ll know what to call them.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

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