Encyclopedia > Backronym

  Article Content


A backronym is an acronym that looks as if its meaning was chosen to fit an existing word, whether the fit is deliberate or accidental (see contrived acronym[?]).

For example, BASIC is apparently a "basic" programming language, and it stands for "Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code". The word acronym has even been made into a backronym - "Abbreviated Coded Rendition Of Name Yielding Meaning" (from BIBLIA (http://www.geocities.com/ben-fuzzybear/acronyms))


  • START[?] - Apparently intended by its coiners as a "start" in the right direction, i.e., nuclear disarmament
  • NUTS - This is clearly a contrived acronym, both to play on the acronym MAD as well as assert the viewpoint that it would be mad to rely on the mutual assured destruction.
  • MAD - This acronym is the same as the word meaning insane, but that might be a coincidence.
  • USA PATRIOT Act - Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001

These kind of acronyms are very common, see Canonical Abbreviation/Acronym List (http://www.astro.umd.edu/~marshall/abbrev)

This following is based on the "Backronym" section of the Jargon File. The Jargon File is in the public domain.

[a portmanteau of back + acronym]. A hackish expression for a word interpreted as an acronym that was not originally so intended. This is a special case of what linguists call back-formation. Discovering backronyms is a common form of wordplay among hackers.

Compare to retronym

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
East Farmingdale, New York

... 14.83% African American, 0.15% Native American, 4.09% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 4.52% from other races, and 2.98% from two or more races. 12.72% of the population are ...

This page was created in 32.7 ms