What Does SCUBA Stand For?

Scuba Diving near Catalina Island

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The modern term scuba was originally the acronym SCUBA, which is short for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.

In contemporary usage, scuba as a common noun relates to the practice of recreational diving aided by a two-stage regulator attached to a gas canister (usually air or enriched-air nitrox) affixed to a vest. This vest, called a buoyancy compensator, contains air bladders to help the recreational diver maintained neutral buoyancy within the water column.

In its earlier usage, SCUBA (the acronym) referred specifically to the equipment a diver used for the dive. The modern term differs from commercial and military diving, which generally does not use the term scuba and instead refers generally to diving.