Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I'm in the brainstorming phase of my next book. During this time, I forcefeed my subconscious with all sorts of raw data about the period in which I intend to set my story. This turns up plenty of curious tidbits--most of it entirely unusuable, but since I collect factoids like a magpie hoards shiny bits of anything, I'm content.
I ran across this little gem of etymology when researching steamship travel between England and British India. The preferred method of making this transit was described by the acronymn POSH--Port Out, Starboard Home--referring to the best (read "most stylish!") side of the ship for your cabin location. Then I ran across another source that debunked this story as false. "Posh" was a bit of 1920's slang of indeterminate origin, they claimed, probably from the 1890's British "posha dandy". Quite often, there will be competing versions of anything in history, so in the end, I have to run with my best guess and hope I've chosen the source who got it right!
But I find I like the idea of "port out starboard home" as the ancestry for this word. And it set me wondering how many other words in our daily vocabulary started out as acronymns. Scuba, for example, stands for "self-contained underwater breathing apparatus." The internet has created its own shorthand lexicon, LOL!
What acronyms do you find yourself using all the time?