Are you an Oink? A Timat? Or just a Dimp?

Yuppie is the best known, Sinbad the latest. But there's an acronym for everyone.

The new acronym is here! Everyone looks forward to these clever little sociological neologisms made up of the initials of other words, and the first one of the new season is certainly a triumph: Sinbad, which stands for Single income, no boyfriend, absolutely desperate. Get it? From Bridget Jones to Ally McBeal to the sad lonely woman next door, Sinbads are said to be the end of the century's most talked-about social group.

Even if you don't believe that, you have to admit it's one of the best acronyms we've seen in a while. It's long, it's timely, and, best of all, it spells out a guy's name. Somewhere deep in the bowels of a demographic think-tank, a former crossword puzzle setter is smiling a little self- congratulatory smile.

Not since the arrival of Lombard (Loads of money but a right dickhead) in the Eighties have we seen an acronym that dares to co-opt a proper name, in the case of Lombard risking potential confusion between City boys in ill-fitting suits and a kingdom overthrown by Charlemagne in 773. Normally, social acronyms are content to sound merely silly, but the rise of Sinbad may set a new precedent for using names exclusively, or perhaps only names of sailors. Soon we could be speaking of Jasons (Japanese art students on nights) or Ulysses (University lecturer [Yorkshire] seeking service elsewhere sedulously), even if it turns out there are no such people.

The history of the socio-economic and/ or socio-political acronym has never been satisfactorily explored. A claim that certain disenfranchised members of Norman Britain were referred to in the Domesday Book as Nisps (No income, some plague) proved to be an elaborate hoax, as did a report that Cro-Magnon Man knew Neanderthal Man simply as Nesath (Nice eyes, shame about the hairline). Several linguists have suggested that the practice may have begun in the East, specifically in the foothills of the Himalayas, but this idea seems to be based largely on the belief that the word "Sherpa" stands for something, which it doesn't. No, if we seek are to look for the true origins of the social acronym, we must look to the New World.

The incisive pocket biographies that form the base of sociological acronyms such as Sinbad were probably first developed by American Indians. Thanks to the celebrated American historian Kevin Costner, Dances With Wolves is perhaps the best-known example of the Native American tradition of name-as-CV, but there were many others. I am reminded of the famous story of the great Lakotan chief Works Well With Others, who tried to prevent his daughter Can't Cook Won't Cook from falling in love with the troubled young brave Keeps Himself To Himself, insisting she instead confer her attentions on the noble and sensible Good With Children. She might have listened, if only these descriptive tribal names were a bit shorter and catchier, but unfortunately the Lakota had no concept of initials. It was to take the arrival of the white man to bring the acronym to America.

Despite its reputation as a veritable hotbed of acronymic coinage, in its first 200 years as a republic, the United States of America produced very little in the way of social acronyms, apart from VIP (Very important person). Even then people were suspicious of the idea and most refused to pronounce it as "Vip", preferring instead to enunciate each individual initial. Little changed until the early Sixties, when Wasp burst on to the scene to widespread acclaim. So satisfied was the American public with this clever insect name for White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, that the demographers of the day seemed content to rest on their laurels. Wasp remained unchallenged until sometime in the mid-Eighties, when the term Yuppie first appeared.

Most of us think of Yuppie (Young urban professional person in employment) as the first real social acronym. The term clearly owes little to its immediate predecessor, Wasp. Yuppie is probably a direct descendant of "Yippie", referring to hippie activists of the Sixties, and coined from the initials of Abbie Hoffman's Youth International Party. Yippie itself seemed to be the etymological bastard child of Vip and jazz-age terms such as junkie, groupie and, of course, hippie. But wherever Yuppie came from, it came to stay. Perhaps because for so many young urban professionals becoming a Yuppie represented something of a promotion, the term was happily adopted by those it was coined to ridicule. Dictionary editors, looking for ways to pad out their sparse "Y" sections, were quick to include Yuppie, and, Pinocchio-like, this little wooden acronym became a real word.

From Yuppie came Buppie and Guppie (Black and Gay urban professional people in employment, respectively). It didn't take long for people to realise this would work with anyone or anything. Coming up with a local version - Chuppie, Wuppie, Luppie, Huppie, Nuppie, Sluppie - was a favourite joke among unfunny people until they all suddenly gave it up in favour of finding new M-words to replace the "menstrual" in PMT, coining hilarities such as Pre-millennium tension and Pre-marital tension. They were dark days indeed. Meanwhile, on the sociological front, something was stirring.

Some bright spark - rumour has it the same man who invented "brunch" - had come up with Dink (Double income, no kids), a pretty piece of shorthand to describe a specific sort of yuppie household. Dinkie inevitably evolved from Dink, but it soon came to be spelt Dinky (Double income, no kids yet). Clearly some thought was going into this. After Dinks there came Dimps (Dual income, money problems) Oinks, (One income, no kids), Lips (Low income, parents supporting), Timats (Treble income menage a trois), Sincs (Single income, nine cats) and many other permutations.

If it sometimes seemed that unscrupulous journalists were just making these up as they went along, we must not forget that it was this pioneering work that led to the development of Sinbad, perhaps the finest social acronym we have had to date.

Another strand of acronymic thinking was running parallel to this profligate coinage of socio-economic resumes, one whose roots lay in the spoken word. Nimby, an acronym for Not in my back yard, has been around for a while, giving rise to the noun Nimbyism, used to describe the type of selfish, backward thinking that has delayed the construction of so many important toxic waste dumps. Further development in this area has been slow in coming, with little variation beyond Nimfy (Not in my front yard, and Nimsy (Not in my side yard), both of which encapsulate a similar political sentiment. Oimby (Only in my back yard) represents a possible antithesis, but for the time being it remains an acronym in search of a constituency. However, there is still considerable potential for acronyms derived from the sort of crazy things people say.

How many of us have been threatened by an atmosphere of Waylayism (from What are you looking at, you?), or harried by the current climate of Dyharcism (Do you have a reward card?) which prevails in our supermarkets? We should not expect immediate results. These sorts of acronyms are by their nature much harder work, and the chances of hitting on the name of a famous sailor are at best slim. For now we must be content with more complex variations on Yuppie, such as Frumpies (Formerly radical upwardly mobile person), Huffies (Heavy users of fast food), and pointless initialisations of common expressions (eg Motco, for Man on the Clapham omnibus) until someone, somewhere, stumbles across the next Sinbad. We must, at the very least, keep going until we find a funny one.

Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments