Right off I’ll just admit that I know nothing about what I’m about to talk about. I’m sure there are loads of books on the subject of naming products, using acronyms, etc and I haven’t read any of them. On the way home on my motorbike last night, though, I was thinking about model numbers and tyre descriptions and my mind sort of meandered down this path. So there, disclaimer completed.

Lots of products, software, techniques and various other things are named precisely for the purpose of having a good acronym. An easy to pronounce and remember, catchy acronym. Sometimes though if the acronym is too easy to pronounce and remember, then all that is remembered is the acronym. I find this at work a lot … people refer to things knowledgeably via the acronym, but if pressed actually can’t tell you what it stands for. Not to say that they don’t know what they’re talking about, just they can’t remember what the letters actually mean.

On the other hand, really great acronyms are easier to write, but never lose their meaning or the knowledge of the lengthened version. The particular example I was thinking of last night were related to the movies recently made of Tolkien’s classics …. if I write LOTR or ROTK, do you read that as “lot-R” or “Lord of the Rings”? “rot-k” or “Return of the King”?

I suppose the other side of this story is that sometimes people don’t actually care about the lengthened meaning — I’ve seen a number of acronyms that were blatantly invented to fit a cool sounding name. Of course now I can’t remember any of them but I know they’re out there.

So what do people think? Can you remember some examples of acronyms where you always read the acronym as the full name? Or the reverse? And where are all the examples of the made up acronyms to fit cool names that I could remember yesterday but not now?!?