When people see the acronym FAQ, I wonder if they really know what it stands for or whether they just understand the concept.

Is this true for most native English speakers?

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    Unless there has been a huge, globally representative poll on the subject, I don't know how we could possibly answer this question without conducting a huge, globally representative poll ourselves. – RegDwigнt Sep 1 '10 at 21:13
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    However, I think it is safe to say that as time passes, less and less people will understand it literally, or even see it as an abbreviation at all. What's with radar, scuba, AIDS, CD-ROM, and perhaps even OK. (No, no, no, I didn't mean to open that can of worms.) – RegDwigнt Sep 1 '10 at 21:30
  • Well, it was actually suggested by one of the moderators of the site that this question be created :) – George Edison Sep 1 '10 at 23:51
  • Among the community of StackExchange users, faq probably has more inconographic meaning than meta but less than log – msw Sep 2 '10 at 5:14
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    In a rare feat of acronym adaptation, the french have F.A.Q. as "Foire Aux Questions" which gives FAQ an enhanced recognition, as if it was indigenous. – ogerard May 2 '11 at 13:44

It's hard to answer this question precisely, but in my experience (native English speaker from the USA) it is generally understood what FAQ stands for ("frequently asked questions"), at least, so long as the person is familiar with what an FAQ is in concept. I have heard of people knowing the abbreviation but not knowing what it stands for, but this seems to be enough of an exception that it's considered noteworthy.

  • Do the people who know of the abbreviation, but not it's expansion, tend to have any idea what it actually means? – SamB May 4 '11 at 5:19
  • @Samb I've heard that this is the case, but that's somewhat weak since I don't have firsthand experience. – Warrior Bob May 4 '11 at 14:28
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    I agree with this answer, but would add that it's much more commonly understood when written, or when spoken as "F - A - Q." In my experience it is less consistently understood when spoken as a word (pronounced "fak", rhymes with "quack"). – Nonnal Nov 2 '15 at 19:12
  • @WarriorBob Does your mother know what it means? I don't mean to get personal, I'm just thinking that there's a very large segment of the population who aren't particularly internet-savvy and who might not know what it means. – Max Williams Aug 25 '16 at 13:56
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    @MaxWilliams I called her and asked - she did know what the abbreviation stood for and what it referred to. I pronounced it "F-A-Q" as opposed to "fack", which may have mattered, and of course this is just one data point, but the answer to your question seems to be "yes." :) – Warrior Bob Aug 26 '16 at 17:40

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