Acrocrostic is my coinage for a phenomenon that’s part acrostic and part acronym.
Acrostics, for those not familiar with them, are a way of embedding a hidden message in an otherwise innocuous communiqué. For example, Schwarzenegger flipped off a California assemblyperson with one. There’ve been others recently that have messages to the president.
So exactly what’s an acrocrostic? It’s where there’s a collection of names put in a certain order where the initial letters form something that could be pronounced. It doesn’t have to be an English word, just have a spelling that could be pronounced. Examples:
[li]FANG stocks – four stocks widely traded today: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google.[/li][li]PIIGS – five economically weak EU countries: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain[/li][li]BRICS – five emerging economic countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa[/li][/ul]
Note that acrocrostics are not new. There are a number of place names that are acrocrostics. Here’s a list of them I compiled for Wikipedia. I don’t know the dates of all of them but the earliest I could find was coined in 1869. Note that I didn’t have a good name for them, so just called them “initialisms”. I just came up with the word acrocrostic last night. It’s not the best name, since it’ll probably be confused with one of the two words it’s a blend of. Anyone have a better name?