[Ads-l] annals of acronymic etymythology

Baker, John JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM
Thu Aug 2 11:09:40 EDT 2018


My sense is that etymythology is far more common than in the pre-Internet days.  Bogus derivations can spread quickly now over social media.  Once you had to listen to a tour guide to encounter nonsensical word and phrase origins.

I’m not so sure that they are currently more common than in the recent past, though.  I think there has started to be some suspicion of these memes, and there are readily available sources, including Wikipedia and Snopes as well as online dictionaries, that can be used to check them.


John Baker


From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Laurence Horn
Sent: Thursday 2 August 2018 10:56 AM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: annals of acronymic etymythology

External Email - Think Before You Click


> On Aug 2, 2018, at 10:42 AM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU> wrote:
>
> Here's an interesting question: Etymythology has been a very strong phenomenon for centuries.

Yup, at least since lucus a non lucendo.

> Even etymological scholars have long been attracted to colorful, unfounded etymological theories. But now, in a society where right-wing media and even the President of the United States are mounting an enormous assault on concepts of education, science, accuracy, truth, etc., is etymythology growing in popularity? I am not asserting that it is growing in popularity, but it seems logical that it would in the aforementioned environment. Another factor that might contribute to such growth is the decline in use of dictionaries.
>
> Fred Shapiro

Do we know for a fact that dictionaries are used less once online dictionaries (not counting the not *always* reliable urbandictionary) are factored in? In addition to the usual suspects (Dictionary.com<http://Dictionary.com>, AHD—OED of course requires a subscription), etymonline.com<http://etymonline.com> seems to be a resource that gets cited and it’s usually pretty good in my experience.

LH
>
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Thursday, August 2, 2018 9:47 AM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: annals of acronymic etymythology
>
> For The Atlantic, I take a look at the latest bogus etymology meme to sweep
> the Internet, asserting that "tag" (the game) stands for "touch and go."
>
> https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlantic.com%2Fentertainment%2Farchive%2F2018%2F08%2Fthat-meme-youre-sharing-is-probably-bogus%2F566582%2F&data=02%7C01%7Cfred.shapiro%40yale.edu%7Cb0c8396dc2e94aa6d38508d5f87e7570%7Cdd8cbebb21394df8b4114e3e87abeb5c%7C0%7C0%7C636688144378969865&sdata=4k1VlDG9Gm00gLRNApCw607Zsr16YXnWRIrn7lAgk6c%3D&reserved=0<https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlantic.com%2Fentertainment%2Farchive%2F2018%2F08%2Fthat-meme-youre-sharing-is-probably-bogus%2F566582%2F&data=02%7C01%7Cfred.shapiro%40yale.edu%7Cb0c8396dc2e94aa6d38508d5f87e7570%7Cdd8cbebb21394df8b4114e3e87abeb5c%7C0%7C0%7C636688144378969865&sdata=4k1VlDG9Gm00gLRNApCw607Zsr16YXnWRIrn7lAgk6c%3D&reserved=0>
>
> I'm hoping that if I keep repeating Larry Horn's term "etymythology" it'll
> get some traction. Douglas Harper of the Online Etymology Dictionary chips
> in with his own blend, "acronymphomania."
>
> https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etymonline.com%2Fcolumns%2Fpost%2Facronymphomania&data=02%7C01%7Cfred.shapiro%40yale.edu%7Cb0c8396dc2e94aa6d38508d5f87e7570%7Cdd8cbebb21394df8b4114e3e87abeb5c%7C0%7C0%7C636688144378969865&sdata=usY8Ss9Mxi0W0uAblgKackAxDeYjbU25re5pSYR22OM%3D&reserved=0<https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etymonline.com%2Fcolumns%2Fpost%2Facronymphomania&data=02%7C01%7Cfred.shapiro%40yale.edu%7Cb0c8396dc2e94aa6d38508d5f87e7570%7Cdd8cbebb21394df8b4114e3e87abeb5c%7C0%7C0%7C636688144378969865&sdata=usY8Ss9Mxi0W0uAblgKackAxDeYjbU25re5pSYR22OM%3D&reserved=0>
>
> --bgz
>
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