Baseball lingo

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue Jun 3 16:59:08 UTC 2008

On Jun 3, 2008, at 8:14 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:

> On Tue, Jun 3, 2008 at 10:47 AM, Larry Horn <laurence.horn at>
> wrote:
>> At 9:04 AM -0400 6/3/08, Charles Doyle wrote:
>>> ... the commentator consistently used the term
>>> "R.B.I." to refer to figures greater than 1--for instance, one
>>> player had "posted ten R.B.I. in the tournament."  I don't recall
>>> having heard that construction before...

>> I know I've heard that, although it is rarer than RBIs.  (Maybe even
>> rarer than "ribbies".)  I interpret it in the the latter sense, as an
>> initialism for 'run(s) batted in' rather than as a mass term.
> This one has come up on alt.usage.english and sci.lang every now and
> then...
> (1992)
> (1999)
> (2004)
> (2007)

and a related discussion on Language Log:

ML, 8/21/06: Term for shifting plural s to the end of initialisms and

GP, 8/21/06: No plural shifting term:

these were on WMD 'weapon of mass destruction', with the plural WMDs.
a year ago i collected various uses of WMD, MSM ('man who has sex with
men'), and FAQ ('frequently asked question, list of frequently asked
questions').  (this was in preparation for a Language Log posting, but
the topic turned out to have some complexities i hadn't suspected --
this keeps happening to me -- so i didn't finish the write-up.  but
it's still in the queue.)

for each, there were singular count uses ("one WMD"), plural uses
(lots of them) of the abbreviation with final -s ("WMDs are"), *and*
some unmarked plural uses of the abbreviation ("WMD are"), but no
internally-marked plurals ("WsMD are").

as i noted in
  AZ, 12/31/04: Implicature in the service of a moral panic:
the usual plural of MSM is in fact MSMs (which is read "men who have
sex with men").

arnold (who kept typing "MWD" instead of "WMD", no doubt because i
type "MWDEU" a lot)

The American Dialect Society -

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