Acronyms and Backronyms


“What do these words have in common: Laser, Snafu, Scuba. Well, none of these words are words at all, in fact. They’re all acronyms — as are plenty of other everyday terms that you probably thought were real words.

While most probably think laser is simply a word, it’s an acronym: laser actually stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Taser, on the other hand, stands for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle.” The electro-shock weapon was actually created by a number of men, including John H. Cover, who named the weapon after Tom Swift, a fictional character he loved as a boy, according to’s blog

…With as many acronyms as there are in modern language, there are also plenty of “backronyms,” or “an acronym deliberately created to suit a particular word or words, either to create a memorable name, or as a fanciful explanation of a word’s origin,” according to the Oxford Dictionary blog. Some of these include the Amber in Amber alert — the letters stand for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response” but that acronym was put together in honor of Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped as a child in Texas in 1996. The “USA Patriot” at is another backronym: it stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act” but, again, those words were chosen to create the handy acronym.”

See these acronyms and more on the Mental Floss YouTube channel.

Stay Curious!

This entry was posted in English, Library. Bookmark the permalink.