Wrongful language: backronyms

Backronyms – expanding the letters of an existing word to turn it into an acronym, either in error or for comic effect.

I can remember in school being told (and believing) that ADIDAS really stood for ‘All Day I Dream About Sex’ but according to wikipedia it actually comes from the nickname of the company’s founder Adi Dassler.

Existing acronyms can undergo a similar treatment, with a new meaning applied. This can sometimes leave the original etymology unclear, take for instance the uncertainty over what RSS stands for – is it Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. And technology gives us lots of opportunities to make up more accurate definitions for acronyms and brand names:

  • TWAIN – Technology without an interesting name
  • WWW – World Wide Wait
  • ISDN – It Still Does Nothing
  • ADSL – And Does Still Less
  • PCMCIA – People Can’t Memorize Complex Industrial Acronyms
  • DVD – Defunct video Device
  • DRM – Devil Restricted Music
  • VISTA – Visual Interface Slows Technical Advance
  • APPLE – A Pompously Pretensious Lifestyle Emblem

And I shouldn’t miss out the best known three letter acronym TLA.


One response to “Wrongful language: backronyms

  1. Pingback: What twitter (and other social networks) really stand for « Give me wisdom

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