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backronym (BAK-ro-nim) noun

A word re-interpreted as an acronym.

[Compound of back + acronym.]

In a backronym, an expansion is invented to treat an existing word as an acronym. An example is the PERL programming language whose name is now explained as an acronym of Practical Extraction and Report Language.

When naming, sometimes a suitable name is chosen and then an acronym is retrofitted on top of it: USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism). The clunkiness of the expansion is a quick giveaway. How about forming a backronym for ACRONYM itself: A Contrived Result Of Nomenclature Yielding Mechanism?


Often, backronyms serve a useful purpose as mnemonics. For example, see
Apgar Score: http://wordsmith.org/words/apgar_score.html



*yoinked from my A.Word.A.Day e-mail: http://wordsmith.org/awad/

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
mountainheather
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:53 pm (UTC)
Could you reformat that? Unless the browser window's som exact specific width there's word breaks everywhere and doesn't read particularly well that way. 8-p
tenthz
Sep. 20th, 2005 12:55 pm (UTC)
dude. how small is your browser?

*fixes*
mountainheather
Sep. 20th, 2005 01:07 pm (UTC)
Thank ya. I keep it really small at work so that it's not flashingly obvious...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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