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Oct 31, 2022
This week’s theme
Abbreviations, acronyms, and blends

This week’s words
retcon
flak
hazmat
larp
blad

retcon
A UK stamp showing the scene at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland where Prof. Moriarty (and supposedly Sherlock) died

Previous week’s theme
There’s a word for it
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

From time to time we feature portmanteaux, words coined by blending two or more words, for example, shrinkflation. That’s just one of the many ways words are combined to make a new word.

Sometimes we take initials, such as KO. If these initials can be read as a word, we call it an acronym, for example radar and snafu. At other times, instead of initial letters, we take the first few letters, as in today’s word.

This week we’ll look at five words that are coined by these methods. If you hear lots of clanging sounds for the next few days it’s because we are busy squishing, blending, shortening, and abbreviating words in our wordshop.

What are some words like this you have coined or you have come across? Share below or email us at words@wordsmith.org. Also tell us about your most favorite or most hated retcons.

retcon

PRONUNCIATION:
(RET-kon)

MEANING:
noun: The introduction of new information to give a different interpretation of an established storyline.

verb tr.: To revise a storyline in this manner.

ETYMOLOGY:
From the first three letters of words in the phrase retroactive continuity. Earliest documented use: 1988.

NOTES:
Arthur Conan Doyle was tired of Sherlock Holmes and killed him off in the story “The Final Problem” (1893). Sherlock fans were not happy and the author was forced to bring the detective back in the story “The Adventure of the Empty House” (1903). The retcon was that Sherlock was alive all this time -- spoiler alert -- he had simply faked his own death.

USAGE:
“And if it goes wrong with her, we can just back it up, retcon it, make it didn’t happen?”
Heather W Adams; Missing the Boat; Bookwyrm; 2021.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Most virtue is a demand for greater seduction. -Natalie Clifford Barney, poet, playwright, and novelist (31 Oct 1876-1972)

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