In English, we frequently look at an acronym and name multiple repeated letters using an ordinal multiplier.

For example:

Automobile Association of America - AAA is read as Triple-A.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm - AAA is read as Triple-A
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - NAACP is read as N Double-A CP
Aamco Transmission Repair - Read in their ad copy Double-A MCO
AAA or AA Battery - Triple-A or Double-A Battery respectively

Is there a phrase or word for this phenomenon?

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    No, but feel free to make one up if you think we need it. Greek is always good. – John Lawler Mar 28 '14 at 0:58
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    @JohnLawler It seems strange that there is no name for the phenomenon. – David M Mar 28 '14 at 0:59
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    AAA is actually harder to say that triple A; the speaking of eɪ-jeɪ-jeɪ takes longer and is slightly more taxing. I'm surprised as well that there is no name for this substitution. – anongoodnurse Mar 28 '14 at 1:06
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    I believe it was Douglas Adams who once observed that "www" (as in World Wide Web) takes three times as many syllables to say as the phrase it abbreviates. – Curtis H. Mar 28 '14 at 2:10
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    @CurtisH. Yet no-one says "Triple-W". – fmark Mar 28 '14 at 4:41

I think there is a word for a numeric acronym; after-all, anacronym is a word for "An acronym the original meaning of which is not known to most English speakers"


Acronym types

  • +1 because a numeronym is very close. This is an acronym or word that includes the number itself. W3C for World Wide Web Consortium. I don't know that it totally explains the practice of reading the acronym aloud in that manner. – David M Mar 28 '14 at 6:13
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    This is a fantastic question, and "numeronym" is an interesting answer, thanks. – Fattie Mar 28 '14 at 9:54

The term is just that Triple-A this is an alias for the AAA. The trick to make it memorable can vary. There apparently isn't much reason to talk about the concepts behind coining new terms for things to the extent that common language needs to invent a bucket load of specific terms and remember them.

After all, we invented "AAA" in the first place to avoid remembering the organization's name!

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