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Is there a word for an acronym which spells out one of its component words?

My coworker's wife is Margaret Elizabeth G... (I'll withhold the last name to protect the innocent).

The joke is that the shortened form Margaret is Meg and her initials are also MEG.

I hope this doesn't get closed as a stupid question but this situation feels like it might have a real name in the flavor of a palindrome (obviously not a palindrome, but in sense of a word or phrase having transmutable qualities).

  • 2
    I don't know, but in my town we have East A Street and West E Street (abbreviated E A St and W E St respectively). That sounds very similar.
    – user362
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 18:47

2 Answers 2


Not taking the shortening of Margaret into Meg into account, this is similar to a recursive acronym/initialism.

I actually know a guy named Jack Arthur Chester Kilpatrick (or JACK), and yes, his parents did it on purpose.

  • I like that. It is definitely the closest thing I've seen. Admittedly, the same way Margaret -> Meg isn't totally pure, it looks like many of the examples in the wiki article also cheated. "EINE — EINE Is Not Emacs". I could do that with almost anything. But to your point, the definition fits pretty well!
    – Rikon
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 19:06
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    @Rikon. That's a standard geek in-joke: the recursive acronym. The most famous is probably GNU's Not Unix, but there's also PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor and a ton of others.
    – TRiG
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 20:38
  • Haha... Of course...
    – Rikon
    Commented Aug 6, 2011 at 21:41

If this was done on purpose, it seems similar to what is commonly called a backronym. This occurs when the component words of an acronym are picked to fit the letters of the desired acronym (rather than the other way around). I've never heard of the term or practice being applied to the names of people, though. How cruel.

  • "G" was a reference to the woman's MARRIED name, so I don't think it was done on purpose. More of an accident, or curiosity.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 20:12
  • @Tom, while your assumption was appropriate, she didn't change her name... G is her maiden name, so cruelty is still on the table :)
    – Rikon
    Commented Aug 6, 2011 at 21:42

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