the term "ISO"

Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 1 out of 5
Yeah, but: They do write it in all-caps.

The Long Version: It's a common enough mistake, but it drives me nuts just the same: "ISO" does not stand for 'International Standards Organization': it doesn't stand for anything. It's not an acronym.

Here it is, straight from the source:

Because "International Organization for Standardization" would have different acronyms in different languages, its founders decided to give it also a short, all-purpose name. They chose "ISO", derived from the Greek isos, meaning "equal".

Attentive readers will also notice that the NGO's name, in English, is 'International Organization for Standardization'. Not 'International Standards Organization'. Sure, there are some excellent backronyms out there, but this isn't one of them.

The great thing is that pronouncing "iso" as a word – as in isotope, isolated, isochromatic, isotoner – is easier than saying "Eye-Ess-Oh". The chance to be simultaneously pedantic and lazy is a rare and special opportunity. Don't waste it.

last updated 12 July 2011


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