Home > General Rants, Internet > F.A.Q.s


For the first time since I have been working on the Web, I have heard the acronym F.A.Q. pronounced differently than I had ever heard it before. For as long as I can remember when talking to anyone about the Internet, and F.A.Q.s in particular, they have always been pronounced one way — and it is the way I think they should be pronounced.

Now, while in a job that does, I must admit, contain both technical and non-technical people in it, there is a discrepancy. At first I just ignored it, but the more I heard it pronounced in a way that I feel is wrong it began to bother me. Once I began a spirited conversation with a coworker over the pronunciation, and it ended in a no-decision. So I decided to look it up.

This is the entry for F.A.Q. in The New Hacker’s Dictionary, Third Edition by Eric S. Raymond (MIT Press, 1996) :

FAQ /F-A-Q/ or /fak/ /n./

[Usenet] 1. A Frequently Asked Question. 2. A compendium of accumulated lore, posted periodically to high-volume newsgroups in an attempt to forestall such questions. Some people prefer the term `FAQ list’ or `FAQL’ /fa’kl/, reserving `FAQ’ for sense 1.

Not a very definitive answer, as it gives two pronunciations for the acronym. Of course, this was last edited in 1996, so culture may have changed this choice by now. I continued to search and came upon this post by Eric Raymond from a USENET thread entitled Pronunciation of “FAQ”, where he wrote:

Both pronunciations are common. I believe the /F-A-Q/ pronunciation used
to predominate, and is still more common outside Internet, but has been
gradually losing ground to /fak/, which is now slightly more common on
Internet itself.

I personally feel that the trend continued as he stated here, and that a F.A.Q. should be pronounced /fak/. But this is my opinion, and what do I really know anyway?

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