Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 7 02:17:37 UTC 2010

We may have to invent yet another term for the Congressional version of
backronyms--and "cronyism" has already been taken.

One of the many ridiculous ideas in modern Congressional practice is to
tag bills with fake names that collapse to cute, cheesy, misleading
acronyms, so the phrase and the acronym are created together, in
conjunction, and neither predates the other. Notable exceptions include
NCLB (No Child Left Behind) that produced a fairly generic acronym
(which, therefore, was not really created with the name) and a handful
of bills past last year, including the now infamous healthcare bill.
Meanwhile, a number of failed bills /were/ created to match fictitious
acronyms. One of those actually did pass only to be pocket-vetoed by
Obama. The practice, of course, is not limited to the federal
legislature and regularly pops up in state legislation as well. Some
international treaties--SALT and START come to mind--may fall into this
category as well.

AFAIK there is no name for this particular kind of acronyms or their
corresponding unpacking. One could suggest, I suppose, something like
"intercronym", "simcronym" and "crackronym", but, of course, these are
all untested (and not yet invented, to the best of my knowledge).

Any good ideas should be passed to political bloggers who have commented
on the phenomenon frequently.

On 11/6/2010 7:51 PM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> Does Jesse know whether the OED is likely to include _backronym_ in the new edition?  There are 46,000 Google hits.  Wikipedia says the following:
> A backronym or bacronym is a phrase constructed after the fact to make an existing word or words match an acronym. Backronyms may be invented with serious or humorous intent, or may be a type of false or folk etymology.
> The word is a portmanteau of backward and acronym, and has been defined as a "reverse acronym".[1] Its earliest known citation in print is as "bacronym" in the November 1983 edition of the Washington Post monthly neologism contest. The newspaper quoted winning reader "Meredith G. Williams of Potomac" defining it as the "same as an acronym, except that the words were chosen to fit the letters."
> Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

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