10 Gaming, Hacker and Virtual World Words You Dont Know

by on October 2, 2009

Neologisms (new words or expressions) enter English quite naturally, by usage. They may come from other languages or they may be coined. And when coined it may happen through some formal process, as occurs in academic circles, or they may simply get invented by a single person and then become viral, because they are expressive or simply cute.

Prior to modern times the circle of people who coined new words was fairly limited because there was no easy way for an invented word to enter the language other than through publication. New slang words were regularly coined, but they probably remained niche words and died out, unless they too became too viral to ignore. It was all very Darwinian, and it still is.

In modern times, though, two activities have change this mechanism. A whole new source of neologisms has arisen with computer gaming, hacking and text messaging. These activities almost mandate brevity and brevity has spawned new forms of expression. So here are 10 words that you will possibly know if you spend time in either activity, but even if you do, you may not know their etymology:

1. LOMBARD The fact that I’ve capitalized the word indicates that it’s an acronym. There are many acronyms that have made their way into English. Perhaps the best known is scuba, which initially stood for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, but in time became a word. There are several words which emerged from the US and UK armies, such as: snafu – Situation Normal All F**ked Up, fubar – F**ked Up Beyond All Recognition and awol – Absent WithOut Leave.

Before the Internet, there were few direct incentives to abbreviate phrases, except for telex and telegraph, so acronyms and abbreviations were rarer. (An acronym is when it sounds out as a word, btw, whereas an abbreviation is like “btw” which doesn’t sound as a word). Nevertheless some acronyms and abbreviations arose. The computer industry was responsible for a few: KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid, GIGO – Garbage In Garbage Out, WIP – Work In Process and WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get are examples. They have not actually become words yet – if we use the quite reliable criterion of whether people capitalize them or not. Nevertheless they have persisted.

The only frequent pre-texting requirement for abbreviations and acronyms was in small ads in newspapers and thus we have: TBYB – Try Before You Buy, ONO – Or Near Offer, VFM – Value For Money and FSOB – For Sale By Owner. Some acronyms like yuppy (from Young Upwardly-mobile Professional) and NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard), both of which I believe have UK origins, were too appealing not to become viral.

Having said that, once texting and instant messaging started up, the world of acronyms and abbreviations exploded, to such a degree that anyone wishing to participate is obliged to learn the language or at least some of the common terms. So almost everyone knows LOL – Laughing Out Loud and ROFL – Rolling On Floor Laughing, but only the experienced will know BMGWL – Busting My Gut With Laughter, WMPL – Wetting My Pants Laughing or ILICISCOMK – I Laughed, I Cried, I Spat Coke On My Keyboard.

Research into this area turned up five quite elegant acronyms that have a good chance of establishing themselves, given time:

  • LOPSOD – Long On Promises, Short On Delivery
  • SITCOM -  Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage
  • POTATO – Person Over Thirty Acting Twenty One
  • PICNIC – Problem In Chair, Not In Computer
  • and LOMBARD – Lots Of Money But A Right Dick

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

david nicol November 16, 2012 at 01:39

s/PICNIC/PEBCAK/

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