7 False Acronyms

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Sure, everyone knows that SCUBA stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. And right, most of us know that AWOL stands for Absent Without Leave. But what about all those supposed acronyms, like Golf and Posh, that aren't really acronyms at all. Here are seven false ones you need to know"¦ at least to be able to impress friends at parties.

1. Posh

Supposed Meaning: Port out starboard home

As the old legend goes, back when travel between India and Britain was done by ship via the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, those in the first class cabins, or the "posh" passengers, usually sat "port out, starboard home" to be shaded from the sun. These tickets, which were stamped POSH, were prized among wealthy English travelers and the name became synonymous with fashion and luxury. However, the company has repeatedly denied this practice and the origin of posh is uncertain. But thanks to popular culture, like the 1968 musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with its "port out starboard home" lyrics in the song "Posh," the false acronym will probably never completely die.

2. Golf

Supposed Meaning: Gentleman only, ladies forbidden

golfMany people think that golf means "Gentleman only, ladies forbidden." And maybe because it was a sport dominated by certain types of men for so long, the myth stuck. But there's no truth to this one. As for the real origin of the word golf, one theory says it's derived from the Dutch word kolf, which means a stick or club, as in the kind Tiger Woods uses to hit a ball 300 yards onto the green. And the Scotts have a similar-sounding word, goul, which means, "to strike or cut off."

While we don't know the origin of the word, we do know that the first documented mention of the word was in Edinburgh in 1457, when King James II banned "˜ye golf', in an attempt to encourage archery practice. Word.

3. Adidas


Supposed Meaning: All Day I Dream About Sports and/or Sex

AdidasLogoThere are two popular false acronyms behind Adidas, the German-based sports apparel company. The first, and most commonly used is "All Day I Dream About Sports." Although it would seem to make sense, the popular phrase was coined years after the company was founded. The second was popularized in a 1997 Korn song titled "A.D.I.D.A.S." and is said to mean "All Day I Dream About Sex." As our readers point out in the comments below, this backronym has been around since the early 80s, at least. Of course, the word Adidas was never an acronym and is actually a portmanteau of the company's founder's name, Adolph "Adi" Dassler. When you blend Adi with the first three letters of his last name, you get Adidas.

4. KISS (the rock group)

Supposed Meaning: Knights in Satan's Service

gene-simmons-photoAlthough they may look like "Knights in Satan's Service", the make-up clad members of KISS are not the fire-breathing devil worshipers as this false acronym may suggest. According to Gene Simmons, the rumor began after he half-jokingly told an interviewer that he sometimes wondered what human flesh tasted like. Almost immediately after, the band became rock music's foremost Satanists. In some ways, the band both embraced and perpetuated the rumor by refusing to answer whether or not they worshipped the devil. Years later when Simmons was asked why he chose the name for the band, he simply replied, "We just liked it."

Fun Fact: Although he's been known to spit blood on stage, Gene Simmons studied theology at Sullivan Community College in New York.

5. RSVP

Supposed Meaning: Respond to Sender Via Post

We've all received wedding invitations where the host has asked us to R.S.V.P. by a certain date, and in American culture it's rude not to "respond to sender via post." Who knows what the etiquette is in France, where the phrase originates. What's certain is that the actual French translation of the phrase is merely "please respond," or, in French, repondez s'il vous plait.

6. Cop


Supposed Meaning: Constable on Patrol

However, cop is neither an acronym for "constable on patrol" nor a slang term to describe the copper buttons on the uniforms of 18th century New York City police officers. The word cop was initially used in the 1840s as a verb meaning "to arrest." Slowly, the word transformed from 'to arrest into police custody' to describe the person doing the arresting. Soon after, police officers started being called "coppers."

7. Bing

Supposed Meaning: But It's Not Google

Picture 2When I first heard about Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, I thought maybe it had something to do with the Bada Bing! from the Sopranos. So I started poking around for the origin of the word. What I first discovered was a false acronym. Yes, some in the tech world are saying that Bing stands for "But It's Not Google." However, the folks over at the world's largest software company say that Bing is meant to invoke "the sound of found", as in "Bingo! I got it!" This is not the first time Bill Gates and company attempted to release a search engine to compete with Google. Previous efforts with MSN Search (bong) and Live Search (bang) both proved unsuccessful. I dunno, what do you all think of Bing?

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November 16, 2009 - 4:07am
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