Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is the correct way to pluralize an acronym? asked about pluralising acronyms, abbreviations and initialisms, but is there a standard way to add verb endings e.g. -ing and -ed (what are these called?), at least in informal English?

For example, which of these is/are best?

  1. I'm SMSing her.
  2. I'm SMS-ing her.
  3. I'm SMS'ing her.

I know I can rephrase it to "I'm sending her an SMS." but I wish to use SMS as a verb.

Similarly,

  1. He FUBARed.
  2. He FUBAR-ed.
  3. He FUBAR'ed.
  4. He FUBAR-d.
  5. He FUBAR'd.

In the latter set, as the verb is actually the F ("foul", or something more explicit) — the expanded sentence being "He fouled up beyond all recognition." — should it even be "He FedUBAR." or similar?

share|improve this question
3  
The best way to spell "SMSing" in English is "texting". And the term you are looking for is suffix. –  RegDwigнt Apr 15 '13 at 10:05
1  
It seems odd that you would say "someone fucked up beyond all recognition", surely they are in that state, they don't do that state. So "He was FUBARd". But that's just a niggle. –  Matt Эллен Apr 15 '13 at 12:06
1  
Well, then again, "someone fucked up beyond all recognition" is a valid phrase in and of itself, if "fucked up" is taken to be a verb rather than an adjective. –  Joe Z. Apr 15 '13 at 12:37
    
@JoeZ. I have to agree with Matt. FUBAR is an adjectival phrase; here, "beyond all recognition" means "into an unrecognizable form." It's an intensification of SNAFU ("situation normal, all fucked up"). If SNAFU gets even worse, it's FUBAR. If you convert it (but why?) to verb form ("he fucked up"), you wouldn't use "beyond all recognition" to hyperbolize it. To hyperbolize this version, you would need a phrase like "beyond anything he's ever done before." (By the way, these are ironic acronyms of WWII vintage, and losing some popularity with age, sorry to say.) –  John M. Landsberg Apr 16 '13 at 0:26
    
I can't think of any way to use -ed or -ing as a valid suffix. Can anyone else? -d simply doesn't exist, and 'd is archaic (no longer used). If you must use these as verbs, go ahead and use the ed or ing with no punctuation. But tell me, why are you so gung-ho to use these as verbs? –  John M. Landsberg Apr 16 '13 at 1:38

1 Answer 1

If you're using a non-verb acronym or initialism as a verb, you're already in the realm of jargon. If you're writing in a context where that's acceptable, you should add a simple "ed" or "ing" for a suffix unless you're going for a humorous effect. When acronyms are absorbed into the language, they may acquire verb forms; for example, the verb meaning "to produce a laser beam" is "lase," retroactively treating the acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation" as if it meant "something that 'lases.'"

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.