Q: What acronyms have become common words or are otherwise interesting?

S:The following is the list of acronyms which have become common nouns. An acronym is "a word formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term" (Webster's Tenth). A common noun will occur uncapitalized in a major dictionary. An acronym is distinguished from an initialism, such as "PDQ" or "PC," in which all the letters are pronounced individually with their names as letters. Initialisms are usually written with capital letters, but some, such as "pdq," can be written in lower case. A true acronym is also distinguished from a blend. A blend will be formed from the initial syllables, as opposed to initial letter or letters, of one or more of the parts of the compound term.

Entries in the following table include the approximate year in which they first entered the language, and the dictionary that first contains

them. The following dictionaries are used

9C Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Merriam-Webster, 1983) 10C Collegiate Dictionary - Tenth Edition (Merriam-Webster, 1993) AH3 American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition (Houghton Mifflin, 1992) NI1 New International Dictionary (G. & C. Merriam, 1909) NI1+ New Words section of the New International (1931) NI2 New International Dictionary Second Edition (G. & C. Merriam, 1934) NI2+ Addendum section of the Second (1959, same as 1954) NI3 Third New International Dictionary (G. & C. Merriam, 1961) 12W 12,000 Words (separately published addendum to the Third, 1986) NI3+ Addendum section of the Third (1993) OED2 Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition (Oxford, 1994) RH2 Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition (Randon House,1992) TCD The Chambers Dictionary (Chambers, 1993)

asdic Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee (1940, NI2+) base Building + Aerial + Span + Earthbound object (?, TCD) dopa Dihydr-Oxy-Phenyl-Alanine (1917, NI3) fido Freaks + Irregulars + Defects + Oddities (1966, 9C) fifo First In, First Out (1945, NI2+) jato Jet-Assisted Take-Off (1947, NI2+) laser Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (1957, NI3) lidar LIght Detection And Ranging (1963, 9C) lifo Last In, First Out (1945, NI2+) maser Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (1955, NI3) musa Multiple Unit Steerable Antenna (1937, OED2) nitinol NIckel + TIn + Naval Ordinance Laboratory (1968, 9C) nomic NO Metal In Composition (?, NI3) obo Oil Bulk Ore (?, TCD) rad Radiation Absorbed Dose (1918, NI3) radar RAdio Detection And Ranging (ca. 1941, NI2+) rem Roentgen Equivalent Man (1947, NI3) rep Roentgen Equivalent Physical (1947, NI3) rhm Roentgen per Hour at one Meter (?, NI3) scuba Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (1952, NI3) shazam Solomon Hercules Atlas Zeus Achilles Mercury (?, 12W) snafu Situation Normal -- All Fucked (Fouled) Up (ca. 1940, NI2+) sofar SOund Fixing And Ranging (1946, NI2+) sonar SOund NAvigation Ranging (1945, NI2+) spool Simultaneous Peripheral Operation On-Line (?, AH3) tepa Tri-Ethylene Phosphor-Amide (1953, 9C) wysiwyg What You See Is What You Get (1982, TCD) zip Zone Improvement Plan (1963, 9C)

Below are blends that technically are also acronyms
alnico ALuminum + NIckel + CObalt (1935, NI2+) avgas AViation GASoline (1943, NI3) benelux BElgium + NEtherlands + LUXemburg (1947, NI3) biopic BIOgraphical PICture (?, 12W) boff Box OFFice (1946, NI3) bren BRno + ENfield (?, NI3) canola CANada Oil + Low Acid (1979, 10C) ceramal CERAMic ALloy (ca. 1948, NI2+) cermet CERamic METal (1948, NI2+) comsymp COMmunist SYMPathizer (ca. 1961, 9C) cyborg CYBernetic ORGanism (ca. 1962, 9C) dorper DORset horn + blackhead PERsian (1949, NI3) elhi ELementary school + HIgh school (1948, 9C) gox Gaseous OXygen (1959, 9C) hela HEnrietta LAcks (1953, 9C) kip KIlo- + Pound (1914, NI2) linac LINear ACcelerator (1950, 9C) loran LOng-RAnge Navigation (ca. 1932, NI2+) lox Liquid OXygen (1923, 9C) mascon MASs CONcentration (1968, 9C) maximin MAXImum + MINimum (1951, 9C) minimax MINImum + MAXimum (1918, 9C) modem MOdulator + DEModulator (ca. 1952, 9C) motocross MOTOr + CROSS-country (1951, 9C) napalm NAphthenic and PALMitic acids (1942, NI2+) parsec PARallax SECond (ca. 1913, NI1+) quango QUAsi-Non Governmental Organization (1973, 12W) redox REDuction + OXidation (1928, NI2) selsyn SELf-SYNchronizing (1936, NI2+) shoran SHOrt-RAnge Navigation (ca. 1932, NI2+) silvex SILVa + EXterminator (1961, 9C) sitcom SITuation COMedy (1965, 9C) squid Superconducting QUantum Interference Device (1967, NI3+) sten Sheppard + Turpin + ENfield (1942, NI3) sysop SYStem OPerator (1983, 10C) tacan TACtical Air Navigation (?, 12W) teleran TELEvision-RAdar Navigation (1946, NI2+) telex TELeprinter EXchange (ca. 1943, 9C) vidicon VIDeo + ICONoscope (1950, NI3) wilco WILl COmply (ca. 1938, NI3)
Acronyms from other languages

agitprop AGITatsiya + PROPaganda (Russian, ca. 1926, NI2+) flak FLiegerAbwehrKanonen (German, 1938, NI2+) gestapo GEheime STAatsPOlizei (German, 1934, NI2+) gulag Glavnoe Upravlenie ispravitel'notrudovykh LAGerei (Russian, 1974, 9C) kolkhoz KOLlektivnoe KHOZyaistvo (Russian, 1921, NI2) moped MOtor + PEDal (Swedish, ca. 1955, 9C) sambo SAMozashchita Bez Oruzhiya (Russian, 1972, 9C) tokamak TOroidal'naya KAMera s AKsial'nym magnitnym polem (Russian, 1965, 9C) ursigram Union Radiophonique Scientifique Internationale GRAM- (French, 1930,


Selected near misses
athodyd Aero-THermODYnamic Duct (1945, NI2+) -- blend awol Absent With-Out Leave (1919, NI2+) -- usually capitalized benday BENjamin DAY (1903, NI1+) -- blend deet Di-Ethyl Tolumide (1962, 9C) -- pronunciation of D. E. T. delmarva DELaware + MARyland + VirginiA (?, 10C) -- uses VA for Virginia dew Distant Early Warning (1953, 9C) -- only in phrase "dew line" dinky Double Income No Kids + -Y (?, TCD) -- extraneous suffix echovirus Enteric Cytopathogenic Human Orphan VIRUS (1955, 9C) -- blend hi-fi HIgh FIdelity (1948, NI2+) -- hyphenated ibuprofen Iso-BUtyl PROpionic PHENyl (1969, 12W) -- PH pronounced f jaygee Junior Grade (1943, NI3) -- pronunciation of J. G. jayvee Junior Varsity (1937, NI3) -- pronunciation of J. V. jeep General Purpose (1940, NI2+) -- pronunciation of G. P. nazi NAtionalsoZIalist (German, 1930, NI2) -- shorten & alter nepman New Economic Policy + MAN (1922, OED2) -- extraneous suffix nystatin New York STATe + -IN (1952, NI3) -- extraneous suffix op-ed OPposite EDitorial (1970, 9C) -- hyphenated pixel PIX + ELement (1969, 10C) -- blend pj's Pa-Jamas (1951, NI3) -- punctuated reovirus Respiratory Enteric Orphan VIRUS (1959, 9C) -- blend sci-fi SCIence FIction (1955, 9C) -- hyphenated siloxane SILicon + OXygen + methANE (1922, NI3) -- blend tradevman TRAining DEVices MAN (ca. 1947, NI3) -- blend updo UPswept hairDO (1946, NI2+) -- blend veep Vice President (1940, NI2+) -- pronunciation of V. P. warfarin Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation + coumARIN (ca. 1950, NI3) - blend yappy Young Aspiring Professional + -PY (TCD) -- extraneous suffix yuppie Young Urban Professional + -PIE (1983, 9C) -- extraneous suffix
Self-referential acronyms
eine Eine Is Not Emacs gnu Gnu's Not Unix gotcha Group Opposed To Creating Half-witted Acronyms liar Liar Imitates Apply Recursively mince Mince Is Not Complete Emacs nbi Nothing But Initials pine Pine Is Not Elm swan System Without A Name tiara Tiara Is A Recursive Acronym tla Tla League of Ameica twain Technology Without An Interesting Name visa Visa International Service Association wine Wine Is Not an Emulator zwei Zwei Was Eine Initially
Supposed acronyms, with what is known about their true origins
fuck For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge [Dutch fokken, 15th century? gorp Good Old Raisins and Peanuts [origin unknown, 1968? posh Port Out, Starboard Home [origin unknown, 1918? spiff Sales Productivity Incentive Fund [English dialect, 1877? tip To Insure (should be Ensure) Politeness (or Promptness) [1610? wog Worthy (Wealthy) Oriental Gentleman [golliwog, c. 1929? wop With-Out Papers [Italian dialect guappo, 1908?

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