Today we will talk about English acronyms and abbreviations. This is something we all experience daily, it might be on the TV, radio your email or in an SMS (<- did you spot the acronyms?) and given how many acronyms I’ve been listening to on the news lately I think it’s worth spending a time in our short English podcast lessons discussing them.
Acronyms have been a part of our language for a long time. Did you know the official name of the Roman Empire dating back to before the Republic was Senatus Populusque Romanus, frequently abbreviated to SPQR. You can still see it on the manhole covers in Rome.
We all use common acronyms on our phones ROFL (Roll on the floor laughing out loud) and in emails to save some effort on typing and we all use spoken acronyms to save on talking effort RIP (Rest in peace). They help speed up communication when using common English phrases.
We use acronyms and abbreviations all the time in our everyday English, without even thinking about them. This can be difficult for new language learners, as it’s often difficult to guess the words and the meaning in such a short sequence of unhelpful letters.
JOMO Intransitively Instagram Transitively Facebook
|To Miss Out||5|
|The Joy Of||4|
|Learning A Language||2|
|Better Time Than||2|
|What is FOMO||2|
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Anyway – we’ve not done any English phrases for a while – and the one I’m going to talk about today is a good one. I expect it’s one of those phrases which may creep into other languages in time. Have you heard of FOMO? So this phrase has been made into an acronym, spelt F-O-M-O. An ‘acronym’, A-C-R-O-N-Y-M, an acronym is a word which is usually written in capital letters and which is formed from the first letters of a number of words, which form a phrase. So acronyms are often technical, common in technology like CPU for ‘Central Processing Unit’ on your computer or laptop. Or in a military context, to do with the armed forces like AWOL, A-W-O-L – ‘Absent WithOut Leave’ or POW for ‘Prisoner of War’. Examples of other acronyms in common speech are BTW for ‘by the way’ – which means that you’re signalling a change of subject to the person that you’re talking to. Or another one, used a lot online – LOL meaning ‘laugh out loud’, meaning ‘I found that funny’.
A photograph of a Computer motherboard with CPU. Used to help explain English acronyms.
So what is FOMO? FOMO stands for ‘Fear Of Missing Out’. ‘Fear’, F-E-A-R is a noun and if you have fear, you’re frightened, you’re scared. And the phrasal verb ‘to miss out’ has various meanings. It can be used transitively – that means ‘with an object’ or ‘intransitively’ that means ‘without an object’. So to miss out ‘with an object’? You might say that you’ve ‘missed someone out’ or ‘missed something out’. So I might type a sentence and accidentally miss out a word. Or I might invite people to my party, but miss someone out, not send one of my friends an invitation.
So ‘to miss out’ can have an object’. But we also use ‘to miss out’ intransitively – that means ‘without an object’. So if you ‘miss out’, it means that you’re missing an opportunity, you’re missing your chance – perhaps to do something nice. So FOMO or ‘fear of missing out’ refers to that feeling that many of us have – that everyone else is having a better time than we are. That everyone else’s life is better than ours – that we don’t have the best social life, we don’t get invited to the right places and that basically, our life isn’t as good as everyone else’s – we’re missing out – FOMO!
So of course, social media makes FOMO much greater for some people. You look online at Instagram or Facebook or whatever you social media you use – and you see the lovely photographs of other people’s lives – their meals, their families, their houses, their holidays – and you think ‘Oh they’re have a much better time than I am’. Of course, you’re forgetting that they probably took 20 photographs and they’ve only posted the one which looks the best! And that they’ve all got problems just the same as we have!
So FOMO can be really bad for some people. It can mean that they’re constantly looking online and worrying that there’s something really exciting happening just up the road, but they’ve not been invited.
Someone said to me last week, that actually since we’ve all been isolating, we’re all staying home so that we don’t get ill – this person said their FOMO is much better! There’s not this sense that everyone else is having a better time – they’re not, they’re home too! I think that while we’re in this situation, that FOMO will be much better for most of us. We’re not missing out, certainly not socially – there’s nothing to miss out on and that staying home is all we have to do.
The other phrase, much less used and less well-known than FOMO is JOMO, J-O-M-O, which stands for ‘the joy of missing out’. So ‘joy’ means ‘extreme happiness in the moment’ – like ‘the joy of spring’ or like the French say ‘joie de vivre’ – the joy of living, or of simply being alive. So the ‘joy of missing out’ or JOMO is about that nice feeling when you give up on what other people might want to do, you give up on joining in – and you do your own thing, you do what you want to do.
So let’s hope during this period we’re having less FOMO and more JOMO!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.