Most writers and news followers are familiar with acronyms - words or widely recognized initials created from the first initial of each component of a name or phrase. Some examples include FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), HOMES (a way to remember the great lakes - Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior), AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). A few common words are actually acronyms as well: LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) and RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging) among them.
You may not be as familiar with backronyms, a word which I mistakenly thought I created until I looked it up. It's not in Webster, but it is already on wikipedia and urban dictionary and was added to dictionary.com in June 2005. Too obvious to be a novel idea, I suppose. A backronym is a concept you are likely familiar with, but haven't previously identified. It's taking the letters of a word and working them into a memorable sentence to describe or explain the word, or make a pun. Some examples include Delta Airlines (Don't Even Leave The Airport) or NESW (Never Eat Shredded Wheat - to remember the directions on a compass). From wikipedia, I learned that backronyms are often used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA - an acronym) as teaching tools. For example, DENIAL is "don't even notice I am lying."
writing exercise: Write a backronym (or two) for your first name.
Click "read more" for the writercizer sample response on Alana. (It's a harder exercise than it sounds!)