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.