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The words "okay" and "emcee" seem to both be somewhat widely accepted (at least, I can find both in several dictionaries). But it seems to be agreed that these are simply sounded-out spellings of the initialisms "O.K." and "M.C." respectively.

Are there any other words like this, and is there a general term for them?

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I could not find any word for them, but I would like to propose the portmanteau "acronomatopoeia" – wim Jan 4 '12 at 4:58
up vote 5 down vote accepted

There doesn't seem to be an official term for words made by spelling out the name sounds of an initialism's letters. Twelve years ago today, on 2000-01-06, Lee Daniel Quinn suggested calling this type of word a vocologue, but his attempted neologism doesn't seem to have caught on.

I'd like to see a happier fate for wim 9's acronomatopoeia, suggested in the comments above. I like the cleverness of the portmanteau formation, and it can be reasonably-well understood to mean a word formed by the sounds of an initialism's letter names.

I was able to find only the following 9 common examples of acronomatopoeia:

  • Teevee = TV (Television)
  • Emcee= MC (Master of ceremonies)
  • Deejay= DJ (Disk Jockey)
  • Veejay= VJ (video jockey)
  • Jaycee= JC (Junior Chamber of Commerce.)
  • Jayvee= JV (Junior Varsity)
  • Okay = OK (Oll Korrect or Old Kinderhok)
  • Kayo= KO (Knock Out)
  • Arby's = RB's (Raffel Brothers)
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Queuecee QC (Queen's council = a type of lawyer) – mgb Jan 4 '12 at 16:45
Nice. Researched with examples. Thank you. – Kris Harper Jan 4 '12 at 17:00
@MartinBeckett Interesting. I'd never seen or heard that one. Must be BritE, no? So, _Queue_=Q and _cee_=C? Wouldn't just Que do for Q? I goggled it, but couldn't find anything. I'm wondering how you pronounce it. Which syllable is stressed? [CUE see] or [cue SEE] or otherwise? – sarah Jan 5 '12 at 8:19
@mgb: tongue-in-cheek I imagine, but it would at least assist the apocryphal barrister who proudly signed himself John Smith QC and got a reply addressed to Mr J S Qc. – TimLymington Mar 8 '12 at 11:52

The only specific wording I have seen for these words are : Plural colloquials

Plural covers the transition from letters to spoken words, and Colloquial covering words appearing out of common use.

Other similarities:

  • DJ deejay
  • MC emcee
  • In American English, jaycee is used for "Junior Chamber of Commerce member".
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