[Ads-l] annals of acronymic etymythology

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 2 11:23:11 EDT 2018

In a related vein, see Kory Stamper's blog post in which a reader is
dissatisfied with "gorp" being listed as "origin unknown" when it's
*obviously* an acronym...


On Thu, Aug 2, 2018 at 11:16 AM, Jesse Sheidlower <jester at panix.com> wrote:

> As Larry and Ben say elsethread, the use of dictionaries has not declined
> for this purpose. However, I don't think this matters anyway: people
> generally dismiss what dictionaries say when they look up entries like
> this. If the etymology is given as "unknown" or something less interesting
> than the purported acronymic origin (which is pretty much a given), people
> will assume that the dictionary is either wrong or ignorant. This is
> similar to usage issues: whatever authority the person decides to accept,
> whether their grade-school teacher or some guy on the Internet, is given
> more weight than the dictionary.
> Jesse Sheidlower
> On Thu, Aug 02, 2018 at 02:42:31PM +0000, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> > Here's an interesting question:  Etymythology has been a very strong
> phenomenon for centuries.  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
> >
> >

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