Wacronym – A User’s Guide

Wackronym, n: an acronym that’s not.

This article is designed to introduce the newcomer to the amazing world of wacronyms.  It seeks to answer two burning questions.  First, what is a wacronym?  And perhaps more importantly, may I use one for my organization?

A wacronym is a mashed-up naming convention that is part slang, part acronym, and completely awesome.  There are some methods of naming that appear to be wacronyms, but aren’t.  For instance- FedEx.  This is simply the first syllable of each word in the name.  It’s short and catchy, but zero parts acronym.  Other posers include AmFam (American Family) and more generically, “fro-yo”.  If it appears to be a wacronym, but has no acronym, it’s just “wack”.

Wacronyms can be crowd sourced.  Take “Mickie D’s” for example.  The people clamored for a wacronym, and McDonald’s has given in.

The best example of a wacronym is NATSB (National Screening Bureau).  This leader in pre-employment screening, I9 compliance services, drug testing, and corporate training is also a trailblazer in the wacornymic universe.  Their name is the ultimate wacronym.  It even capitalizes the shorthand of the first word!

So what are the rules?  First, the name must be a variation of an acronym.  AmEx (American Express), like FedEx, fails on this analysis.  It’s no acronym at all.  Length is a consideration.  Don’t use a wacronym if your name has more than three words in it.  AmerSocPrevCA instead of ASPCA.  Doesn’t roll off the tongue, does it?

Some words are problematic.  AARP as AmerAssRP and NCAA as NatColAthAss are instructive.   The author cannot recommend that any organization with the word “association” in its name use a wacronym.

So, in summation if your company has less than four words in it’s name, none of the words are association, and you are willing to pronounce the first shortened word but no others, prevailing wisdom allows you to use a wacronym.  Just like NATSB!

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