Phat [was Re: gay/ghey/ghay]

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jun 4 04:34:43 UTC 2004

At 8:58 PM -0400 6/2/04, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
>>(Can anyone
>>>  think of any other nontechnical terms - not initialisms like
>>>  "TGIF" -  that have acronymic origins?)
>I guess it depends on what's labeled "technical". There's "awol", there's
>"scuba", there's "moped" if you loosen up the definition of "acronym", some
>But there aren't too many in conventional use really.
>I doubt that "snafu" is an 'honest' acronym etymologically (which would
>require that there was a previously existing expression "situation normal
>..."): likely the word was invented to imitate "snag", "snarl", etc., and
>then assigned an expansion as an imaginary origin: but of course I could be
>wrong again.
Given "fubar" as well, though, and several other acronyms of the same
sort, all from military argot (Jesse cites a few in his _F Word_),
another possibility is that the acronym and phrase came into being
simultaneously.  I doubt that people were saying "snafu" and "fubar"
for a while, and then realized that, hey, those letters can be made
to stand for the initials of "situation normal all fucked up" and
"fucked up beyond all recognition" respectively!  There are indeed
bac(k)ronyms of this sort--the PATRIOT Act is a recent example, or
SPECTRE from the old James Bond books, or (I assume) the WAVES--but I
don't think "snafu" is likely to be among them, along I wouldn't
object to the claim that its popularity may have owed something to
the "snag"/"snarl" connection Doug mentions.


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