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Strictly speaking | Exco

Acronyms are handy expressions for those who know what they stand for, and impossible for those who don’t. Exco encountered in a brief news report gives little away. Could it be a shortened form of excon (-vict/-fidence man)? Try making sense of its two two-letter parts, and both ex and co prove ambiguous: ex could mean “former” as in ex-partner, or “out of” as in ex-warehouse; while co stands for “fellow” in co-worker, and “company” in and co. But no amount of mixing and matching the parts yields the meaning of the whole. Wikipedia offers a lead with its disambiguation page for exco, showing its different meanings in different contexts. The least likely is exco as an experimental college (predecessor of the C21 academic mooc = “massive open online course”) – another inscrutable acronym! Otherwise it could be executive council (a body that advises the Governor-General), or an executive committee within the structure of an organisation. The last is a catchall category, defined as “a group of people who come together to consult, deliberate, or make decisions”. In commercial contexts the exco is the group of directors appointed to act on behalf of the company’s board; whereas its equivalent in Australia’s parliamentary system is the select committee of parliamentary members appointed to deal with particular areas or issues. How much power the exco actually has depends on whether it operates in government or business.

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