alphabet soup

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 16 14:45:47 UTC 2010

But, Jon! Your New Deal experience is so recent!

Seriously, I do see something novel in Paul's example. I am used (over
the past 25 years only) to the expression implying an assortment of
initialisms. So one may talk about an alphabet soup of UN
sub-organizations, for example. But these example do not appear to be
restricted to initialisms (aside from BMW)--they include a multitude of
diverse names, but these names may be quite well formed. FWIW, the
initialism "alphabet soup" is still in use. And, I am sure, Wilson could
vouch for its existence in his army years. Not sure if Tom Lehrer's The
Elements qualifies as an Alphabet Soup song, but it might, under the new


On 12/16/2010 8:06 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> I first encountered this sense as applied to the proliferation of new
> Federal agencies
> during the New Deal.
> In other words, decades ago.
> JL
> On Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 1:23 AM, Paul Frank<paulfrank at>wro=
> te:
> ------
>> The OED says that alphabet soup means "a clear soup containing pieces of
>> paste or biscuit shaped like letters of the alphabet," which it does.
>> But more often these days, it means something quite different:
>> Members of the Treasury select committee have expressed their concern at
>> an "alphabet soup" of new regulators.
>>   FT Adviser, 30 Nov 2010
>> A Guide to the Alphabet Soup of Fed Bailout Programs=E2=80=8E
>>   Wall Street Journal, 1 Dec 2010
>> The annual celebration of motorcycles and the folks who love to ride
>> them boasts an alphabet soup of bikes from BMW to Yamaha and most
>> manufacturers in between, as well as stunts from Jason Britton's Team No
>> Limit and workshops for riders who like to wrench.
>>   LA Times, 16 Dec 2010
>> Paul
>> --
>> Paul Frank
>> Translator

The American Dialect Society -

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