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Rashi, Rambam, the Maharal, the Rosh, the Rema, etc. are all usually referred to by their acronyms. This custom makes sense in a culture that is mostly transmitted through the written word where ink and paper were not cheap - someone wrote רש"י, so I say Rashi.

Who was the first person to be generally addressed as an acronym? Who popularized the use of that acronym?

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How about רשב"י? –  sam Apr 7 '13 at 23:07
    
@sam Is that what he called himself? –  Double AA Apr 7 '13 at 23:33
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what does "generally addressed" mean? By himself about himself? By contemporaries to his face? By others after his death? –  Danno Apr 7 '13 at 23:59
    
@Dan That's why I am asking the second question - Who popularized the use of that acronym?. I think "generally addressed" means "at some point in time". –  Charles Koppelman Apr 8 '13 at 2:37
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@msh210, technically, that's what an acronym is. If it is not pronounced as such, it is just a generic abbreviation. –  Daniel Apr 9 '13 at 13:28
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marked as duplicate by yydl, Michoel, Isaac Moses, Seth J, Charles Koppelman Apr 9 '13 at 16:04

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A possible candidate would be the Amora אביי - whose real name was נחמני but was called אביי by the acronym for אֲשֶׁר-בְּךָ יְרֻחַם יָתוֹם. Read more details here.

Unless you want to argue it was Avraham Avinu: אַבְרָהָם, כִּי אַב-הֲמוֹן גּוֹיִם נְתַתִּיךָ

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Some people (I believe erroneously) claim that Maccabee is from Mi Chamocha B'elim YHWH. If that is the case, I go with Judah the Maccabee. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maccabees

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