Acme: only used for companies?

That’s what seems to me. I don’t recall seeing this used as a common noun, and it’s invariably used as part of a company name.

Apex, by contrast, seems to be used both ways.

[OTOH, my wife does crossword puzzles and she says she sees it a lot there. :)]

Acme can also mean the pinnacle or a peak, height of achievement, etc.

And I have seen it used that way on occasion. Not frequently, but every now and then.

Certainly way fewer times than I’ve watched Wile E. Coyote have stuff from Acme Corporation blow up in his face.

I had to look up acme to even know it WAS a noun. I’ve never seen it used in language, outside of a company name.

Side note: The Acme Packing Company is often referred to the first major sponsor of the now Green Bay Packers, and I always thought that. Google/wiki-fu just informed me that was wrong. When the team was founded, it was the Indian Packing Company; it was absorbed by the Acme Packing Company two years later.

Google ngram viewer allows search to be case-sensitive. Here are “acme” and “Acme”.

My idea was the capitalized version would usually be a company name, the lower case version would not. Change in usage over time does have some striking patterns:

From 1800 frequency steadily increases to double at around 1910; then steadily decreases to reach about 20% of the 1910 frequency in the year 2000.

Extremely rare until about 1880. Increasing to a sharp peak in 1942, then an equally precipitous decline until 1967, followed by a steady recovery until 2000.

There is actually a Wiki article on “Acme Corporation” that says:

Presumably it was a word came high in alphabetic listings, and had good connotations. Or, at least, less surreal connotations than “Aardvark Corporation”.

That raises a couple of interesting possibilities.

Possibly acme was never that popular as a common noun to begin with but had its profile raised by use as a company name.

Conversely, it could be that it was originally in common use, but became so closely associated with use as a company name that it drove down the use as a common noun.

The ngram chart seems more consistent with the latter. The rise in usage of “acme” in the 19th century predates the sharp rise in the use of “Acme”. And “acme” peaks and starts to decline just as “Acme” is really starting to take off in the early 20th century.

It’s also a name for particular shape of thread on a screw, instead of the thread tapering to a point, the outermost edge is flat. Almost square shaped in cross section rather than triangle shaped.

Acme anvils always seem to have one fatal flaw. No matter where you stand, one will fall directly on top of you and crush you flatter than a pancake, so you resemble an accordion when you stagger out from under it.

Also, in 1990, Mr. Wile E. Coyote, a resident of Arizona, brought a suit against the Acme Corporation of Delaware in district court.

I can remember seeing telephone directory listings for things lke Aaaaa’s Locksmith, or AAAA Bail Bonds. You had to search pretty far down the page to find Acme Shoe Repair, which seems like an oxymoron (no political jab intended).

Yes, the OP is not a machinist. Almost every leadscrew on a machine tool is an acme thread and they are discussed quite a bit on forums. A search on the general forum on turned up 500 references. I’ve got acme taps and various lengths of acme threaded rod in the shop. It’s pretty much all I think of if I hear the word “acme”.


For a time, things got even sillier. It was discovered that Yellow Pages sorted punctuation marks ahead of alphabetical characters, so suddenly “AAA Armatures” lost their top spot to “.ABC Windings”. The next year they won it back with “…AAA Armatures”, and the war entered a new phase.

By the time I started setting ads in the mid-90s (just before Yellow Pages closed that particular loophole), there were some where the entire frame of the ad was composed of leader dots, eventually curling in to connect with the name of the company. Others went in different directions, in the hope that “,” or “/” might come before “.” – the top of some ads looked like the company cat had sat on the keyboard.