Did the words WIMP and MACHO come from cosmology?

In a lecture today, we learnt that WIMP stood for Weakly Interating Massive Particle and MACHO stood for Massive And Compact Halo Object, and my lecturer said that there was a possibility that the words wimp and macho first came from cosmology.
Do they?

Oh, lord. Are you sure he wasn’t kidding? 'Cause if wasn’t kidding, he’s an idiot (or maybe he’s a 12-year-old). Wimp is slang (American English, I believe), and hd been around for decades when some smart-ass astrophysicist came up with a cute name for one kind of hypothesized dark matter. Macho is a Spanish word, and it’s very, very old, and it was adopted as an astrophysical acronym after WIMP.

No, and your lecturer is a nitwit for even thinking they might. Macho entered English in the 1970s and derives from the Spanish word macho, meaning masculine. Wimp is traced back to the 1960s in its current meaning and goes back to the 1920s meaning “a woman.” Dates and etymologies from Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang.

Pretty sure macho didn’t. Macho is from the spanish machismo, in turn from the latin masculus. Wimp as a slang term is newer, and more likely comes from “whimper” than from the subatomic particle acronym.

Other wimp acronyms:

Weak In Mountain Phase, a U.S. Marine term I have no idea the meaning of:
Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointing Devices (or Mouse, Pull-Down menu), from operating systems;
Wireless Implanted Magnetic-resonance Probe.

Other Macho acronyms:
Mayo Clinic Health Oasis.
Probably these acronyms came from the word “wimp” rather than the other way around.

He was pulling your leg. “That’s why we should call them economical numbers.”

Ya know, I keep getting cosmology and cosmetology confused…has to do with something about the make-up of the universe, right?

The first reference I found for the particle-physics WIMP was a July 1985 Science News article, and for MACHO, a June 1990 Nature.

There’s a joke here about how WIMPs are indeed related to cosmetology, but I’m too sophisticated to make it. :wink:


Rule of thumb: If someone tells you a word derives from an acronym, it isn’t true. There’s been a few threads on this, including one on the s word (Ship high on transit I think it was), and the word posh, and several others.

You got that backwards. Machismo/machista come from macho (Spanish for male), which of course comes from Latin. IIRC, the use of the word “macho” in the sense of machismo entered the English language before machista entered the Spanish language.

I defer to authority. :slight_smile:

It’s Machos versus Wimps in the battle for the mass of the Universe!

¿Quién es mas Macho? ¿LMC Macho o SMC Macho? :smiley:

[sub](LMC Machos and SMC Machos are real astronomical bodies, can you guess what are the acronyms?)[/sub]

Obviously I am just stupid. Sorry.

So they’ve been lying to me about RADAR all these years? :dubious:

As a physics term, WIMP was invented by Michael Turner c. 1982. His book with Ed Kolb, The Early Universe (Addison-Wesley, 1990), has the curious footnote on p310:

where that’s meant to be the copyright symbol attached to the acronym. The group refered to is the cluster of cosmologists, including Kolb and Turner, at Fermilab and the University of Chicago. Whether it is actually copyrighted (why ?) or if this is a joke, I don’t know.
MACHO is later and was, of course, deliberately coined as a joke on the pre-existing meanings of wimp and macho.

SCWolf, radar isn’t derived from an acronym, it is an acronym.

bonzer, you can’t copyright a single word (cite). Someone may well have registered it as a trademark, but I doubt in this case they could do that either, since they don’t make the thing; it would be like trying to register “water” as a trademark.

Sorry, went for the preview and missed. I was just going to add that I think the author you quote is deeply confused about what status that word has.