I’ve got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications. I thought I’d share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you – Word Origins from Left Field – that’s right, the WOLF (oh, how clever is she? She made an acronym out of her agency’s name!) Er… ignore the fact that the “from” doesn’t fit.
In any case, what does acronym even mean? It’s Greek (like a lot of other things we stole from them) and it means “top name.” We take the top letter of each word encompassed by the acronym to make the new name.
There are a lot of acronyms you use fairly often, which I’ll rip off right here real quick:
- RSVP: Respondez S’il Vous Plait – French for “please answer”
- PS: Post Scriptum – something you tag on “after writing”
- i.e.: “id est” which translates from Latin “that is”
- e.g: “exampli gratia” again from Latin “for example”
- etc: “et cetera” again, more Latin “and the rest of them”
- AM: Ante Meridiem
- PM: Post Meridiem
And of course there are about a ton of corporate examples, and if you wander into military territory we’re talking about millions of acronyms.
My favorite acronym though is the early Christian usage of ICHTHUS, which is Greek for “fish.” The acronym, (again in Greek) stands for “Iesous Christos Theou Huios Soter” meaning “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” Christians used to identify each other by drawing a fish in the sand at their feet with their toe while talking to another person they suspected might be a Christian. If the other person answered with a fish, they knew the could speak openly.
We still use the fish today. You can see it on any number of cars if you look – and now you know why.