MYOA (Make Your Own Acronym)

This brainercise will help you:

  1. Expand your vocabulary.
  2. Get strangely creative.
  3. Apply skills you practiced in a past brainercise.

Acronyms have their place. They are useful for mnemonic devices, events, company names, processes and inventions. The rub is that often times people overuse and abuse acronyms.

I vividly remember learning the acronym PEMDAS (which I previously had learned as the acrosticPlease Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally“) for the order of operations. Only the cool kids pronounced it as “pemdas” and left the annoying aunt out of it. (It might be helpful to note at this point the subtle difference between an acronym and an acrostic. An acronym can be pronounced as a word, an acrostic creates a phrase or sentence. PEMDAS pronounced as “pemdas” is an acronym and converted to “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” is an acrostic.)

A useful acronym for mnemonic purposes uses the naturally occurring words for the processes or items to be remembered.

  • ADDIE is an acronym used in training and development. It is based on the terms analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate. These are the natural terms you would use for each of the steps in this process to improve performance in the workplace, typically with training.
  • HOMES is an acronym used to remember the five Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior.

When people desperately want to create a mnemonic device, they often force an acronym.

  • FINE-C is an acronym representing “a standardized series of controls to engage when starting a motorcycle”. It stands for fuel, ignition, neutral, engine cut-off switch, choke and clutch. The natural words would be gas, ignition, neutral, cut-off switch, choke and clutch. Apparently GINCCC doesn’t work as well as FINE-C, so the words were “massaged” so they would fit in a nice pronounceable word.
  • SEE, also in motorcycle training, represents search, evaluate, execute. Here’s another example of words specifically unnaturalized so that they can fit in a clever term. I don’t know many people who search the road for things to evaluate so they can make a decision that they can execute. The people I know keep their eyes peeled for problems and when a problem arises, they make a decision and act on it simultaneously.

Even PEMDAS has its downfalls. The P, which stands for parentheses, actually represent any grouping. This includes square brackets and curly brackets, which is normally assumed as the same as parentheses. Less well understood is that it includes isolated things like groupings above or below a fraction bar which are implied parentheses.

Example of Isolation in the Numerator of a Fraction

Likewise the E for exponents includes radicals (also known as the square root, or nth root). It is often forgotten that radicals are fractional exponents.

Acronyms are also commonly found in the names of organizations, events and even items such as scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus). There is an organization named SMART that stands for Smart Motorcyclists Attend Rider Training. The Houston chapter of ASTD’s 2008 conference had a RODEO theme: “Raising Organization Development Excellence Overall”.

Brainercise:

  1. Choose an event that you are planning. This could be a birthday party or dinner party at your home or a high budget gala. 
  2. Write down the standard title.
  3. Write down words surrounding the event, the honored person or organization.
  4. Choose the word that you want to be an acronym. This is just a starting point, you might end up with some other word.
  5. Take the last letter in your acronym and find a noun starting with this letter that actually means the event. (See the example below if you are getting lost.) You might have to consult a thesaurus. (If you’ve practiced the brainercise License Plate Fun, you will be more prepared for this brainercise.)
  6. Take the other letters in your acronym and find adjectives appropriate to the event.
  7. Put them all together and see what you have. If you are pleased, stop. If not, start back at number four and tweak things.

Example:

  1. We’re going to plan an event for my best friend’s 40th birthday.
  1. “Tammy’s Birthday Party” is the natural title for this.
  2. Since Tammy will be turning 40, we could use old, curmudgeonly, party, get together, celebration, as words with which to start. We might add to this list.
  3. We can choose the word OLD because it is small, and will be fun to write Tammy’s O.L.D. instead of Tammy’s Birthday Party. We’re going to follow this format to create our acronym:
  4. Helpful Blanks to Create The Acronym OLD 

  5. We need a word that starts with D (the last letter) that means “party.” I couldn’t find a word that actually is a synonym for party, but I did find the word debauchery. So I’ll use that one.
  6. I need to find words for O and D. I might use ornery and loud?
  7. “You are cordially invited to Tammy’s O.L.D. – Ornery Loud Debauchery.” I’m not sure I like this. Perhaps if I used OLDER instead, I would be able to find a nice word starting with R. (Maybe riot or reception.) Furthermore, ornery describes Tammy not the party itself. I just found the word “orgy.” Depending on the type of party I could write this as “Tammy’s O.L.D. – Orgy of Lively Debauchery” or “Tammy’s O.L.D.E.R. – Ostentatiously Lovely Diversion and Entertaining Reception” – these are a little rough around the edges, but you get the point.

Have fun!
-Idearella

One Response to MYOA (Make Your Own Acronym)
  1. twitter follow
    July 25, 2010 | 3:51 pm

    Cool website, thanks for sharing the info!!

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