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The earliest example that comes to mind is the shortening of the name Ted Nugent as The Nuge. To be clear, I'm less interested in the dropping of syllables at the end of his name, and more interested in the replacing of an initial word with "the".

A more recent example is Mountain Dew's slogan, "Do the Dew" (their re-branding as Mtn Dew is also interesting, but not what I'm getting at).

I've heard this formula applied colloquially, such as referring to Taco Bell as The Bell.

Would this be considered elision? If not, is there a name for this?

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  • An elision makes a word easier to pronounce, doesn't it?
    – Archa
    Jun 19 '14 at 22:32
  • 2
    There's no formal definition of "elision" except 'leaving stuff out', so any kind works. Kinda makes the word useless, right? There are thousands of ways that stuff can get left out, under thousands of special conditions, with thousands of special words. Calling it all "elision" is hardly helpful. Unless you're filling in a blank on an English text, something no one will ever pay you for. Jun 19 '14 at 22:41
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The shortening itself I would term clipping rather than elision.

The use of the definite article with an often altered version of a person’s name (as wonderfully satirized by Rob Schneider as Richard Laymer on SNL, 1990–94) is I think a form of aggrandizement (OED s.v. aggrandize: “4. trans. To cause (a person) [to] appear greater than the reality; to exalt.”)

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It is referred to as an agname or agnaming

Styled or called, apart from christian and surname. Urquhart Jewel Wks. 1834, 214 Colonel Alexander Hamilton, agnamed dear Sandy. H. Miller Scenes & Leg. iv. (1857) 47 He was agnamed Gulielmus de monte alto.

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In an unsearchable and potentially ephemeral comment to the original posting, Professor Lawler kindly presented the following answer:

There’s no formal definition of “elision” except ‘leaving stuff out’, so any kind works. Kinda makes the word useless, right?

There are thousands of ways that stuff can get left out, under thousands of special conditions, with thousands of special words.

Calling it all “elision” is hardly helpful. Unless you’re filling in a blank on an English text, something no one will ever pay you for.

I’ve marked this posting Community Wiki because it is John’s answer not my own, and so I deserve no reputation from it.

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