Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Learning | Apronym and Kibosh

I stumbled across a new word today, while I was trying to look up the origin of another word.  It all started when I used the word "kibosh" in conversation recently. You know, as in, putting the kibosh on something, to stop it. I knew what it meant, from context, but I really had no idea where it came from. So I decided to look it up. 
The Oxford English Dictionary (Cake!)

from Pete Prodoehl's photostream on

I would love to have this on my birthday cake!

I looked for kibosh in the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED is considered the best source for looking up word origins, but it wasn't much help this time. It declares the origin obscure (meaning nobody knows where the word originated,) but it also mentions that it could be Yiddish or Anglo-Hebraic. 

I decided to check our electronic databases. I didn't know if they would be any help, but I thought there might be an obscure article in a scholarly journal in there somewhere. So I went to Academic Search Premiere, and typed in "kibosh."  

That brought up too many news articles with headlines talking about putting the kibosh on things. 

I narrowed my results to scholarly journals. That cleared things up; instead of 66 articles, I had four. One of those four had a word in the title that I had never heard before: apronym. (The word kibosh was also in the article, as part of an apronym for BLOCKAGE; the article was not about the origin of kibosh.) 

Shoemaker in apron, holding his tools. (Cropped.)
from George Eastman House's photostream on
No known copyright issues.
Never mind kibosh! 

I had to know more about apronym and its meaning. The word I accidentally found has nothing to do with the names of aprons. 

Apronym is a relatively new word; it is a portmanteau of the words a propos and acronym. (For a discussion of portmanteaus, just click on the above link to my 2013 post about them.)

Here's a link to the article where I found the word apronym. It gives some fun examples of apronyms, in which are acronyms that form a real word, with the words that form the acronym relating to the meaning of the word. For example, Seasonal Affective Disorder has an apronym of SAD. It might help to think of apronyms as plays on words, like puns.

No comments:

Post a Comment