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Recursive acronym

A recursive acronym is an acronym which refers to itself in the expression it stands for, similarly recursive abbreviation.

It was a hackish (and especially MIT) tradition to choose such acronyms and abbreviations which referred humorously to themselves or to other abbreviations. Perhaps the earliest example, from about 1977 or 1978, is TINT ("TINT Is Not Teco"), an editor for MagicSix. This inspired the two MIT Lisp Machine editors called EINE ("EINE Is Not EMACS") and ZWEI ("ZWEI Was EINE Initially").

More recently, there is:

  • LIAR, a Scheme compiler (LIAR Imitates Apply Recursively)
  • GNU stands for "GNU's Not Unix!"
  • PHP stands for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor"
  • PINE ("Pine is not Elm")
  • a company with the name Cygnus, which expands to "Cygnus, Your GNU Support" (though Cygnus people say this is a backronym). question: (is this Cygnus Solutions?)
  • PNG file format unofficially stands for "PNG's Not GIF"

This article is based in part on the "Recursive acronym" section of the Jargon File. The Jargon File is in the public domain.

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

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