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So, take a stroll down memory lane to remember all of our past Word of the Year selections.
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In English, acronyms pronounced as words may be a 20th-century phenomenon. In formal writing for a broad audience, the expansion is typically given at the first occurrence of the acronym within a given text, for the benefit of those readers who do not know what it stands for.
Linguist David Wilton in Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends claims that "forming words from acronyms is a distinctly twentieth- (and now twenty-first-) century phenomenon. The capitalization of the original term is independent of it being acronymized, being lowercase for a common noun such as frequently asked questions (FAQ) but uppercase for a proper noun such as the United Nations (UN) (as explained at Case Casing of expansions).
There are no universal standards of the multiple names for such abbreviations and of their orthographic styling.
In English and most other languages, such abbreviations historically had limited use, but they became much more common in the 20th century.
It is not uncommon for acronyms to be cited in a kind of false etymology, called a folk etymology, for a word.
Such etymologies persist in popular culture but have no factual basis in historical linguistics, and are examples of language-related urban legends.
Our Word of the Year choice serves as a symbol of each year’s most meaningful events and lookup trends.
It is an opportunity for us to reflect on the language and ideas that represented each year.
There is no special term for abbreviations whose pronunciation involves the combination of letter names and words or word-like pronunciations of strings of letters, such as JPEG .