Sometimes the only thing better than discovering a secret is making one up, so we love to invent hidden origins for ordinary words. The acronym is a fairly recent development in the evolution of the English language, but in many cases we’ve tried to impose acronymic origins upon a plethora of words that antedate the very concept.




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The word fuck is an acronym derived from the phrase ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.’


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The name of the San Diego Wild Animal Park’s Wgasa Bush Line monorail was mistakenly taken from a crude acronym.*


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The word nylon was formed from conflating ‘New York’ and ‘London’.*


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The gang known as the Crips took their name from an acronym for “continuous revolution in progress.”


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The word news is an acronym formed from the words north, east, west, and south.


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Pommy,” a slang term for a British person, comes from the acronym POHM, which was used to designate a “Prisoner of His Majesty.”


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The word cabal is an acronym formed from the names of five ministers to Charles II.


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The word golf is an acronym formed from “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.”


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Federal statutes intended to help fight organized crime were designated ‘Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations’ (RICO) laws because the acronym spelled out the name of a film gangster.


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The word shit is an acronym formed from “Ship High in Transit.”


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Tip is an acronym for “To Insure Promptness” or “To Insure Prompt Service.”


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The word ‘cop‘ came from an acronym formed from the phrase “Constable on Patrol.”


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Phat‘ came from an acronym formed from “Pretty Hot and Tempting.”


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Posh‘ entered the language as a shortening of “Port Out, Starboard Home.”


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Swag‘ began in the 1960s as an acronym for “Secretly we are gay.”

* Entries marked with an asterisk will display in a separate browser window.