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Where do award names come from?

Tracy Jordan's coveted EGOT bling, 30 Rock

The nominees for the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced this morning, but where did “Emmy” even come from? Or her buddies Oscar and Tony, for that matter?

The Oxford Dictionaries Language Matters blog has a short rundown today of the origins of various entertainment awards, from the Oscars to the Razzies. The latter is pretty predictable—it comes from the “tbbthhh!” raspberry sound—but some of the origins are more curious. Oscar, for instance, likely came from an American wheat and fruit farmer, and non-theater-buffs might not know that the Tonys are named for Antoinette “Tony” Perry, an actress and producer.


The etymology of “Emmy,” while somewhat obscured to time and technology, at least makes sense. According to Oxford Dictionaries, it’s an “alteration of Immy, which is itself a shortening of the term image orthicon. Image orthicon refers to a type of television camera tube popular in the cathode ray television sets of the mid-20th century.”

You can read more about award etymology at Language Matters.

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