If you spell 'scuba' in all caps, why?

I noticed that a number of people (not just on this site) spell ‘scuba’ in all caps. Why? I know that some years ago it was not uncommon to see ‘radar’ similarly spelled in all caps, but that doesn’t seem to happen much anymore.

(And if it’s because you’re a prescriptivist, that’s cool. Just curious.)

SCUBA is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus and traditionally the first letter of the words in acronyms are capitalized. Though it seems this practice is becoming more optional.

Because it’s an acronym: Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.
Just like RADAR: RAdio Detection And Ranging
and LASER: Light Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation

Both were originally spelled in all caps, because they are acronyms (the same with LASER). As the words became more commonly used and thus more familiar, they began to be treated as ordinary words, and not capitalized - but some people who were used to spelling them with all caps never changed the style they preferred.

If I write scuba in all caps, it’s because I’m shouting at you.

I’m of the personal opinion that you only need to all-caps acronyms if you’re actually using them as acronyms at the time - which it to say, if you were saying them aloud you’d speak each letter. Once an acronym achieves status as a word, it’s no longer a series of letters and needn’t be written in a way intended to emphasize that fact.

Well thanks, well-meaning people for informing me that it was an acronym. I don’t think I would EVER have figured that out on my own. Wow!

Anyway, I was asking about personal usage, not etymology, which I was already familiar with. It started life as an acronym, but that ship has sailed. Now, according to most dictionary editors, it’s just a word, like radar and laser. Hence, the question.

I think if you see us do it in all caps, we’re trying to be proper. Especially in discussion, like with recent events. We don’t want the discussion about the heroic mission to devolve into a bunch of chastising from people who “respect” the acronym or something. Or that by not capitalizing our knowledge is weak and our points don’t matter. We all know that sort of thing can and will happen.

Well, the answer is still that it started as an acronym and some people still follow acronym usage because they want to. That doesn’t change no matter what your personal opinion is or the opinion of dictionaries or editors.

I tend to write SCUBA, but then I also write laser and radar. It’s one of those inconsistencies I don’t notice until someone says “hey, you’re being inconsistent.”

So what now? Given that virtually nobody writes LASER and RADAR, I’d have to be real jackass to reverse course on those. So I guess from now on I’ll be writing scuba instead of SCUBA.

I used to write SCUBA. Then I noticed that PADI says scuba. Which is funny that they insist on their branded all caps name, but dump the acronym for scuba itself.

Aviation uses a lot of all caps, especially for identifiers.

But aviation and scuba don’t really mix.

I recently used SCUBA in all caps, probably because it’s a word I rarely use, and I didn’t stop to think about it passing into small-case usage. Now, I wonder if LIDAR, FUBAR and SNAFU are still upper-case. Again, I can’t recall ever putting those words into print before.

On a military history board I frequent there’s at least one poster who writes ‘RADAR’. I think that’s an affectation at this point, even if you’re speaking of radar in the WWII era but weren’t around back then. Same with laser. Scuba/SCUBA would be a little more gray area just IMO though I’d write it scuba. As was mentioned though scuba isn’t a particularly common word though the great majority of people I guess have a general idea what it is. Radar and particularly laser (pointers, in CD/DVD players etc so literally a household word) are much more common words.

But by most definitions the distinction between an acronym and an initialism is that the former is pronounced as a word. So if you’re saying each letter you don’t really have an acronym.

Googling into the differences between acronyms and initialisms (and, subsequently, when you capitalize one or the other) led me to the following two conclusions:

  1. By at least two different definitions, all initialisms are also acronyms. It’s not really correct to say there’s a distinction, just like there’s not really a distinction between odd numbers and all numbers.

  2. The general rule for de-capitalizing an acronym is when it becomes a word rather than a proper name or term of art. If you consider ‘scuba’ to be a technical term, it’s SCUBA. If you just consider it to be a normal word, it’s scuba. This is why pronounceable acronyms like NASA and NACHA keep their capitals; they’re still names, not words.

(‘lol’ is apparently a special case, in that it lives in an environment where everyone’s an uncultured lout who won’t capitalize anything, so now if you capitalize it you come off as a rube, LOL.)

Consider NATFA, aka nafta, aka Nafta.

I’d be willing to bet that someone, somewhere has gone scuba diving from a flying boat!

Username/post combo of the week?

My dad was one of the first SCUBA divers, having trained in the Navy as a hard had diver then moved on to SCUBA when the equipment first became available.

His scrapbook was plastered with all sorts of patches, certifications, photos etc. with the term “SCUBA” prominently displayed all over the place. Not scuba.

Which is why I tend to use SCUBA.