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The trend of using the last part of words, bot for robot or za for pizza for instance, appears to be from the late ‘60s as suggested by Etymonline:

The method of minting new slang by clipping the heads off words does not seem to be old or widespread in English. Examples (za from pizza, zels from pretzels, rents from parents) are American English student or teen slang and seem to date back no further than late 1960s.

Another term that is now widely used in social media networks is rents (parents).

Did this counterintuitive usage of the last part of words originate simply from students jokes or are there previous literary usages that may have inspired those students in the late ‘60s?

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Apheresis is definitely much older than the 60s and not limited to only Murican English. Why? Just 'cause (from the mid 15th century).

If you include words where the initial vowel was lost then there are a lot of examples from Middle English that I know of (probably not even close to the oldest examples): (a)mend, (e)squire. Some words even lost the initial consonant: (n)adder. And here's another word that lost more than a single letter: (de)fence. Twasn't rare at all.

Macmillan's article ’Scuse me, squire – ’tis just aphaeresis has some more examples.

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  • It's the word-level analog of Conversational Deletion, which operates on the sentence level. Same principle, though -- if you're confident it's there, you don't hafta pronounce it. May 19 at 18:29
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    Apheresis is the loss of unstressd initial syllable. The examples Gio gave all have stress on the first syllable, so it is contrary to expectations that the unstressed syllable is the one that survives.
    – Mitch
    May 19 at 18:59
  • That's 'bout the size of it, yup.
    – Robusto
    May 20 at 1:37

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