June 2008 Archives

Shortening

| 5 Comments

Is there a name for the particular kind of term-shortening where a term or phrase is abbreviated to its first component, even if that's not the important/meaningful part?

The most common example of this that I see is "Social," short for "Social Security number." As in, "What's your Social?" An abbreviation that includes the words "Security" or "Number" seems like it would make a lot more sense.

I've also heard "Microsoft" for "Microsoft Word." As in, "I wrote it in Microsoft" or "I fired up Microsoft and wrote a letter."

And "Internet" for "Internet Explorer," though that's arguably a different kind of thing; lots of people don't really understand the concept of a web browser.

Another common one: "wiki" for "Wikipedia." Again arguably a different kind of thing; many people don't know what a wiki is, and aren't aware that there are others.

It also seems to me that the "-gate" suffix, meaning "scandal," is somehow related, though that connection may just be in my head. But it does share the idea of extracting part of a term ("Watergate") and using it as shorthand for a much larger meaning.

I suppose these are all more or less synecdoche. One could argue that "society" for "high society" and "the throne" for "the king/queen" are just as strange; they've just been around long enough to be commonly accepted.

Still, my gut feeling is that there's something more/different going on here than just garden-variety synecdoche.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2008 is the previous archive.

August 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 5.04