Acronym-users, why do you do it?

It seems like over half of the time I see people use acronyms for phrases they end up having to explain the acronyms. Some people use acronyms and then explain them all in the same breath (looking at you, Rachael Ray), while others wait to be asked for the millionth time what they mean.

On one widowhood board it seems that every thread has someone using the term “DGI” while every other thread has someone asking what “DGI” means. “Oh, ignore her. She’s just a DGI.” “What’s a DGI?”

It stands for “doesn’t get it,” by the way. You know who else “doesn’t get it”? People who use unwieldy or idiosyncratic abbreviations and/or acronyms or initialisms that other people end up having to ask about or guess at! I can’t think of any time communication is aided by these sorts of shortcuts. They just end up requiring explanation sooner or later.

So, what am I missing? Why do you use them, if you do?



No, wait, I’m not, or I wouldn’t do it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Funniest misinterpretation of an acronym was from Polycarp, who admitted he thought for a long time that YMMV meant “You make me vomit.” Which still totally cracks me up, and I still test it out as a possible reading every time I see YMMV.

Here in Maine we have Bath Iron Works, which is almost always shortened to BIW.

“BIW” has more syllables than “Bath Iron Works.”

Any federal government employee will recall the horrible moment when they realize that they are able to communicate in sentences containing more acronyms than words! :stuck_out_tongue:


World Wide Web, it takes longer to say the Acronym and it has more syllables.

Well considering that Singapore is the capital of acronyms i find myself using them more than I like, but most people understand.

For example:
Normally I would take the TPE SLE BKE to go to JB being careful of TP all the way but a SBQ might go by CTE PIE BKE but all of this is made possible by the MIW. She may not watch for the TP becuase many people say they are NATO and we would need to WLL for them to do anything unless you happen to be on EP or WP or worse, FDW then you may be referred to the CPIB for follow up action.

Of course before starting I would need to leave my HDB block and go the the MSCP, remembering to put my cash card into in IU before starting the car which I bought with a COE and remembering to pay my ERP



Lessee… TP = Toilet Paper, WLL = Wireless Local Loop, NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organisation… um… help?

TPE = Tampines Expressway
WLL = Wait Long Long
TP = Traffic Police
SBQ = Super Blur Queen

MIW = Men in White (the ruling party of 40 years is known for dressing all in white)

NATO = No Action, Talk Only
COE = Certificate of Entitlement (a licnese to own a car)
JB = Johor Bahru (a town in Malaysia)
ERP = Electronic Road Pricing
FDW = Foreign Domestic Worker (the polite way to refer to your maid)

And this is only the start…there are heaps more that I will only realise as I use them


I rarely use acronyms, except for comic effect–such as when I used to threaten people with improbable flying monkeys, and would write something like GEFSVSPwPCoTHs. Intentionally ridiculous.

Generally I find acronyms coined by the user to be counter-productive. Unless you define them at first usage in a discussion, they pull the reader out of the passage, forcing him to either puzzle it out, check the urban dictionary, or ask for a definition in the thread. In any case, that does not lead to good communication.

Frequently I find this practice to be discourteous and passive-aggressive.

It’s a bonding thing. Shared knowledge and all. Like mentioning the crazy chemistry teacher at the high school you both went to. And explaining the abbrev. is like letting someone into the club. Long experience leads to knowledge of the codes and a feeling of being “in.”

I work for a Defense contractor in the Washington DC area. Peppering one’s speech with acronyms is akin to a doctor hanging up his diploma and certifications. If someone doesn’t know what FFP means, I make some assumptions about their depth of knowledge in our business.

Reminds me off the annoying little girl in Sleepless in Seattle who’d speak in acronyms.

Girl: sigh N Y.
Tom Hanks: What?
Father: “No way.”
TH: That’s N W.
Girl: New York.

With the people I hang out with, acronyms like WTF, OMG, LOL, GTFO, and DIAF are completely understood, and are sort of an in-joke because we’re amused by the act of saying something aloud that is usually typed out. But you have to know your audience. You can’t just toss out strings of letters and expect to be understood. And if you do and you get blank stares, you have to realize it’s not that your audience isn’t hip enough to get your coolspeak, it’s that you have a poor grasp of the comprehensibility of your acronyms.

Especially when they’re kinda dumb. “Oh, ignore her. She’s just a doesn’t-get-it”? Who talks like that?

Who actually says either one?

I don’t mind them sometimes, but other times they make me crazy.

I believe it should be standard protocol to do what ‘The Economist’ does; write it out in long on first usage, Housing Development Board (HDB), followed immediately by the acronym, to be used throughout the text, article, post etc. This is imminently sensible.

I once got a recipe off the board that said, ‘SF flour’, which I thought was indicating a specific brand of flour I was familiar with. But no. SF meant self rising. That’s exactly 8 keystrokes to being clear. The cake was a failure and I had Self Rising flour in my pantry the whole time. A recipe! Where being clear would be kind of essential. It took more than eight keystrokes to post the title of the recipe, which I did not need at all.

I don’t get it, why wouldn’t you want to be understood? Part of me believes it’s about being superior. Waiting for someone to ask you to clarify so you can feel smarter than them. But then sometimes it’s clearly just laziness. Other times I think it’s about being chic and hip and in, only old fuddy duddies don’t know the lingo! Mostly it’s just irritating.

I’ll be dancing a jig when a protocol is actually set, which has to happen eventually based on what I see all around.

I work in software/IT. It’s part of my job description to use acronyms.

IDK my BFF Jill?

Jill can FOAD. :smiley:

I think it’s actually an interesting phenomenon, and as long as the majority of readers agree on what’s commonly understood, it’s almost elegant. It’s matured from simple LOLs to more “adult” things like WRT, or AFAIK, IOW, etc.

I don’t use “DGI,” but I can kind of see that one. Making DGI a noun is a lot less awkward than using “doesn’t get it” as a noun. So they’ve sort of invented a noun to fill a need. If you wanted to use “doesn’t get it,” you’d have to put it in quotes every time:

N00B-widow - So I woke up again and he still hasn’t come home!
Vet-widow - Ain’t gonna happen, honey.
N00B-widow - Huh!?
Vet-widow2 - Don’t bother, she’s a doesn’t get it.
Vet-widow - She’s a doesn’t get it? Are-ah you-ah Italian?
N00B-widow - She doesn’t get it.
Vet-widow - I don’t get what?
Vet-widow2 - No. She’s a “doesn’t get it.”
N00b-widow’s husband’s corpse - Gotcha ya!

and then **jsgoddess **would be starting a thread about the stupid widows who put everything in quotes.

Okay, I’ll admit I LOL’ed. :smiley: