What's in a Word | All Blogs


“Wi” I was wrong…

By Debra Dobbins

Smug. That’s how I felt after reading today’s Pickles. Wi-Fi, I thought, is an acronym for wireless fidelity. I congratulated myself on being so tech-literate.

Humble. That’s how I feel now after researching the term. It turns out that Wi-Fi is a play on words from the term hi-fi, an acronym for high fidelity. A marketing firm coined the term for its client, the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance, the originators of the wireless networking technology. (Now the firm is just known as the Wi-Fi Alliance.)

“The technical term 'IEEE 802.11' has been used interchangeably with Wi-Fi,” according to Wikipedia. I’m glad the Wi-Fi Alliance opted for a term easier to remember.

An acronym, by the way, is a word formed from the first letter or first few letters of a series of words. Radar is a good example. It is created from (ra)dio (d)etecting (a)nd (r)anging.
 

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