I've engaged the task of trying to legitimize the presence of a listing of DRM standing for "Digital Restrictions Management" on Wikipedia's disambiguation page for the acronym DRM.

(This is a case where the original term stood for "Digital Rights Management", which is considered by the activist cause as whitewashing the true implications; as it may only limit/restrict and never grant any rights on the digital media to the users if the limitations were not present. It is advocated as a replacement meaning for the acronym by the Defective by Design movement.)

I'm not sure what to call an acronym with this character. The terms that came to mind were "parody", "backformation", or "re-purposing". Is there a more general term for taking an acronym that was marketed and understood as meaning one thing and promoting an alternate meaning?

  • (...and if people with any Wiki cred could have my back on this deserving mention on the DRM disambiguation page--with a link to the Defective by Design Movement--that would be cool too.) Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 11:33
  • DRM is not an acronym. An acronym is letters that form a pronounceable word like PETA or SCUBA. Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 15:27
  • @DarrickHerwehe The tag description for acronym here says "Acronyms are words which were created by taking the first letter (or several letters) of each word of a phrase." That's the definition I know of... Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 16:52
  • DRM is a kind of acronym called an initialism.
    – Dispenser
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 20:49
  • @Dispensador I've added initialisms as it exists here. But I suppose the question is if that is a subclass of acronym or not? Are all initialisms acronyms? Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 21:00

2 Answers 2


The term backronym comes to mind: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backronym

  • That's a good/funny word...though it doesn't quite convey the nuance I'm looking for. I mention the wiki page because I was wondering if something existed better than "re-purposing of the acronym" (which was the best I came up with) Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 17:11
  • 1
    Well, going down the wikipedia rabbit hole you've also got retronym, satiric misspelling (maybe you have satiric acronyming?), and sensational spelling (maybe you have sensational acronyming?). Who is trying to repurpose the acronym? What do they call the repurposing? Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 17:16

It sounds to me like you are reappropriating the term for a new use.

  • Not acronym-specific, but good to add to the consideration. Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 20:03
  • Co-opt, in sense “To commandeer, appropriate or take over” is somewhat parallel to reappropriate, minus the overtones of “...a group reclaims — re-appropriates — terms or artifacts that were previously used in a way disparaging of that group”. Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 17:05

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