acronym for

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sat Jul 4 13:50:44 UTC 2009

On Jul 3, 2009, at 3:54 PM, Chris Waigl wrote:

> Mark Mandel wrote:
>> On Sat, Jun 27, 2009 at 10:09 AM, Charles Cunningham
>> <cjc3esq at> wrote:
>>> Synonym?
>> ISTM quite possible that the author was reaching for "synonym" and
>> retrieved "acronym" instead. Anyone care to look for instances of
>> "synonym" in this sort of sense?
> My hunch agrees with yours.

[examples follow]

> ... aware that none of these are synonyms, the way I understand the
> word

OED2 has extended senses of "synonym" and "synonymous" along these
lines, with cites from the 17th century on.

synonym: a name or expression which involves or implies a meaning
properly or lterally expressed by some other; 'another name for'

synonymous: in extended sense, said of words or phrases which denote
things that imply one another

in some of the examples, it's not clear that relations between two
linguistic expressions are involved.  for example, this one from Baden-
Powell in 1873:

   With many,..going out to Australia is believed to be synonymous
with making a fortune.

but then ordinary people are not especially scrupulous about
distinguishing words and things, so that terminology first used for
words is easily extended to things.


The American Dialect Society -

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