[whatwg] W3C compatibility

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis bhawkeslewis at googlemail.com
Mon Feb 12 12:15:20 PST 2007

David Latapie asked:

> Why do you use both <span class="ex-acronym"> and <abbr 
> class="acronym">?

Because some words (usually names of organizations) begin as
abbreviations and become ex-abbreviations. That is, they officially
cease to stand for anything but are still written and pronounced as
before. What it stood for becomes of purely etymological interest. CERN
appears to be one of these:

"CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The name CERN
is derived from the French Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire,
or European Council for Nuclear Research ... When the Organization
officially came into being in 1954, the Council was dissolved, and the
new organization was given the title European Organization for Nuclear
Research, although the name CERN was retained."


On further investigation, looks like "orphan-acronym" would have been a
more recognizable class name. Other examples of "orphaned" abbreviations
include KFC, ESPN, AAA, AARP, UMIST, Texas A&M, SRI, SAT. For
discussion, see:



There's even a relevant Wikipedia category:


> The only thing for sure is that there is a strong disagreement on the 
> terminology.

Yes. It's difficult. :(

Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis

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