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SPAM

(click here to read about SPAM®)

From The Writer’s Almanac 7-5-09

It was on this day in 1937 that SPAM came onto the market. The canned meat product from Hormel Foods Corporation was given its name by a contest winner; the prize for his ingenuity was $100. On one  occasion, a Hormel spokesperson said the name was short for ‘Shoulder of Pork and Ham’; on another, a company official said it was a conflation of the words ‘spice and ham.’ All sorts of parodic acronyms have circulated over the years, including ‘Something Posing As Meat.’ The  original recipe, still sold as the ‘Classic’ flavor, contains pork shoulder and ham meat, salt, water, sugar, and sodium nitrate. There’s a gelatinous glaze on top, which forms like that after the broth cools down.

Spam sold in the Americas is mostly produced in Austin, Minnesota — ‘Spam Town USA’ and home of the SPAM  museum. Hawaii’s residents consume more Spam per capita than the residents of any other state, and the canned meat has been nicknamed ‘The Hawaiian Steak.’ Spam is the main course in the Israeli Defense Force’s combat meal kits, but the pork is replaced by beef so that it’s kosher.

There’s a Monty Python sketch that came out in 1970 where the actors go into a cafe; and try to order breakfast, but almost everything on the menu contains Spam. One woman doesn’t want Spam in her breakfast and gets into an argument with the waitress, who tells her that the menu consists of ‘Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam, and Spam.’ It’s from this Monty Python sketch that ‘spam’ acquired the use so familiar today: unwanted or unsolicited e-mail. The first recorded  use of the word in this way is in 1993. It’s also become a verb in the English language, for the action of sending out spam.

And the word ‘spam’ itself, untranslated, is now a noun in French, Portuguese, and Vietnamese. The verb ‘to spam’ in German is ‘spammen’; in Czech the verb is ‘spamovat’;  and in Italian it’s ‘spammare.’ There’s a new Monty Python’s musical, SPAMALOT, currently playing in San Francisco.

And now, for our word of the day:

Spam. noun, verb, spammed, spamming.

1. Trademark. a canned food product consisting esp. of pork formed into a solid block.

–noun 2. (lowercase) a disruptive, esp. commercial message posted on a computer network or sent as e-mail.

–verb (used with object) 3. (lowercase) to send spam to.

–verb (used without object) 4. (lowercase) to send spam.
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Origin: (def. 1) sp(iced) + (h)am; 1990–95; referring to a comedy routine on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Brit. TV series.

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Sources: The Writer’s Almanac, dictionary.com

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Does this title sound like some kind of 12-step program? Can you pronounce it as a word?

NEAIAA = Not Every Abbreviation Is An Acronym!

Here’s a lesson/word of the day:

abbreviation. noun.

  • a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used to represent the whole, as Dr. for Doctor, U.S. for United States, lb. for pound.
  • an act of abbreviating; state or result of being abbreviated; reduction in length, duration, etc.; abridgment.

acronym. noun.

  • a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words, as Wac from Women’s Army Corps, OPEC from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or loran from long-range navigation.
  • an acrostic.

acronym. verb (used with object)

  • to make an acronym of: The committee’s name has been acronymed MIKE.

We actually believe that the verb form of acronym should be considered in our group of Nouns gone bad …

TIP: Just remember, if you can pronounce it as a word, it is more than an abbreviation, it is an acronym.

Sources: dictionary.com, Acronym Finder

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