verb; back formation
To send a message or converse with another person utilizing an online messenger system Originally a noun derived from the acronym AIM (America Online Instant Messanger), a variant of back-formation led to the verb, which was then generalized in the manner of Google to refer to a conversation using any of several online messenger programs rather than solely AIM. The development of such a term was necessary as the technology is reasonably new—no single word in the language referred specifically to a conversation held through an online system.
I’ll aim you
Etymology : ‘America’ refers to the country of origin of the program, and where it is most commonly used. The country itself is an eponym, named for Amerigo Vespucci, who claimed to have discovered the New World. ‘Online’ blends the words ‘on’ and ‘line’ indicating using the internet, referred to as a ‘line’ due to the previous need for a cable connection to phone lines. ‘Line’ itself comes from the Old English line, meaning ‘a row of letters.’ Instant comes through Old French and Middle Latin from the Latin instantem, meaning ‘pressing or urgent.’ It refers to the supposed alacrity of the system. ‘Messanger’ comes from the Old French messagier; interestingly, the ‘n’ has no function. Phonetically, it is possible the nasal was more acoustically pleasing next to the affricate than was the vowel, or the velar was easier to say when juxtaposed with the inserted alveolar.
Source : Rice student ECR
Last modified: 10 June 2008