Did You Know These Are Acronyms?

What do these words have in common: Laser, Snafu, Scuba. Well, none of these words are words at all, in fact. They're all acronyms — as are plenty of other everyday terms that you probably thought were real words.

That's Not Even A Word

While most probably think laser is simply a word, it's an acronym: laser actually stands for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation." Taser, on the other hand, stands for "Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle." The electro-shock weapon was actually created by a number of men, including John H. Cover, who named the weapon after Tom Swift, a fictional character he loved as a boy, according to's blog.

There are plenty of surprising acronyms out there: Scuba divers are probably thrilled to be using a "self-contained underwater breathing apparatus," while anyone caught in a snafu is probably not so thrilled about "situation normal all f**d up."

But, There Are Backronyms, Too

With as many acronyms as there are in modern language, there are also plenty of "backronyms," or "an acronym deliberately created to suit a particular word or words, either to create a memorable name, or as a fanciful explanation of a word's origin," according to the Oxford Dictionary blog. Some of these include the Amber in Amber alert — the letters stand for "America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response" but that acronym was put together in honor of Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped as a child in Texas in 1996. The "USA Patriot" at is another backronym: it stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act" but, again, those words were chosen to create the handy acronym.

56 Acronyms and Initialism You Didn't Know

What is that YKK on your zippers, anyway?

Key Facts In This Video

  1. The YKK on your zipper stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha. 00:22

  2. L.L. Bean actually stands for Leon Leonwood Bean. 00:43

  3. LASER actually stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. 05:27

More Acronyms And Abbreviations You've Always Wondered About

Yahoo: yet another hierarchical official oracle.

Where Do These Weird Words Come From?

Tweet? Really?

Key Facts In This Video

  1. As language progresses over time, nouns have a tendency to become verbs. 00:23

  2. Association football emerged in England in the 1800s, which was shortened to the word "soccer" in 1860. 01:18

  3. The name for the root vegetable rutabaga was also once slang for dollars in the 1940s. 02:14

Written by Curiosity Staff February 15, 2015

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.