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Free Acronyms and Abbreviations Finder and Definitions - Business, Training, Medical, Military, Technical, Funny - Acronyms, Backronyms and Abbreviations Meanings

Some of these acronyms could be considered 'politically incorrect', including a few which could be interpreted to be rude or offensive. As such be careful how and where you use them. And if you are easily offended please don't read the page.

This free acronyms and abbreviations finder is a dictionary of useful acronyms and abbreviations for training, learning, teaching, etc. This collection is also a study in language and communications. This acronyms list contains acronyms and abbreviations, and  'backronyms' (acronyms constructed restrospectively to fit a word), with origins in the armed forces, healthcare, IT and various other business and training fields, including funny lifestyle and social acronyms and abbreviations.

The acronyms and abbreviations in this listing can therefore be used for various purposes: for simple amusement; for finding unknown meanings; for illustrating and emphasising points that you wish to make in training or speaking or presentations; and for examples of how language and expressions develop and evolve. Whatever, acronyms and abbreviations add colour and texture to the written and spoken word, and to life in general. They are a fascinating reflection of the development of communications, language and social attitudes.

Strictly speaking, acronyms are words formed from the abbreviations of others, but as you'll see, many of these acronyms aren't words at all, and even some of the best known acronyms like LASER and RADAR have bent the acronym rules.


'Bacronyms' - Reverse Acronyms

Some acronyms, usually amusing and ironic, are formed in reverse, i.e., by starting with a word, especially a brand name, or an existing acronym, and finding new words to fit each of the letters, for example the 'bacronyms' made from ACRONYM and  YAHOO. The amusing term for these types of acronyms is 'backronyms' (or 'bacronyms'). Backronyms feature strongly in the acronyms created from aviation and airlines and  automotive and car make names, and in corporate name backronyms such as DIAGEO, and more recently AIG.

The bacronym or reverse acronym device is not new, as seen in the old GWR interpretation. Two notable and quite different examples of bacronyms being used to positive effect are ASDAand PIG. Bacronyms are often created as hoax explanations for the origins of certain swear words. The word 'bacronym' is a portmanteau word - which is a combination of two others, in this case combining the words 'back' and 'acronym'.


acronyms and abbreviations

Acronyms, whether true acronyms or not, and abbreviations, add colour, fun and interest to our language, and thereby they act as mnemonics, or memory devices. Many technical and process-related acronyms and abbreviations greatly assist in memory retention and learning.

Many acronyms and abbreviations when used properly can certainly enhance communications, because they act as 'short-hand' and therefore increase the efficiency of communications; in other words, more meaning is conveyed in less time and fewer words.

Many acronyms and abbreviations are also motivational and inspirational for training, because they contain a special theme, and because the acronym or abbreviation itself is a mnemonic device (a memory aid). Some of these acronyms and abbreviations originated as far back as the 1940s (notably the 2nd World War), and a few probably the early 1900s (notably the 1st World War). Many other abbreviations listed here are far more recent. Many older acronyms provide fascinating examples of the development of language and changing cultural attitudes. Latterly similar dark and cynical humour is evidenced in the development of acronyms and abbreviations relating to the field of customer service, especially in the contexts of IT and healthcare, for which an additional healthcare acronyms listing appears below separately, due to its richness and diversity....

Also, increasingly, lifestyle groupings and demographics profiles are providing fertile subject matter for acronyms - a separate listing of lifestyle and demographics acronyms appears below.

When using acronyms and abbreviations for serious and intentionally open communications ensure that definitions and meanings are understood or explained, or the acronym defeats its own purpose. It's advisable that if using acronyms in reports and other important communications, such as instructions, manuals, procedures, and training materials, you should include a glossary of acronyms and abbreviations, which hopefully enables the audience to understand the meanings involved.

Automotive acronyms (actually these are 'backronyms', since they are retrospective constructions),  lifestyle/demographics profiles acronyms and healthcare acronyms are listed in separate sections below. Some of these acronyms and 'backronyms' also appear with more details and explanations in the main acronyms listing.

acronyms, abbreviations, menmonics, bacronyms for learning and amusement


Any time, Any place, Anywhere. Popular texting abbreviation (ack J Lewis). The expression actually originated from a 1960s/70s Martini TV advert in which the song went: Any time, any place, anywhere, There's a magical world we can share (??), It's the right one, it's the bright one, It's (Thats ?) Martini... Other variations of lyrics following the opening line were used in more recent years (It's a new world, Me and you girl..). Suggestions on a postcard please as to the original words (and ad agency, composer, etc), and later versions. The word Martini in the context of media has now assumed an amusing additional modern meaning, referring to mobile and on-demand communications and media, and is also used as an ironic reference to someone exhibiting particularly flexible or pragmatic tendencies, especially politicians who pander to views and support for personal advantage above ethical considerations.


Apples To Oranges. Acronym to highlight any inappropriate comparison; a modern shorthand for 'chalk and cheese'.


Age, Build, Clothes, Distinguishing marks, Elevation, Face, Gait, Hair, Sex. Acronym used by UK armed forces and services staff for identifying people involved in incidents or crime.


Alive, Alert, Aggressive. One of very many triple-A acronyms. Somewhat macho but catchy nevertheless, and not a bad rallying call for self or team in a variety of situations (visit to the dentist, disaster de-debriefing with scary CEO, public speaking pep-talk, etc.) Apparently originated in the Seal Cove fishing community on Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick... (Ack G Myers) And by way of extending the theme:


Association Against Acronym Abuse. (Ack P Vallee).


Always Be Closing. Traditional selling process acronym which emphasises the need to be continually moving the customer towards action and agreement within sales discussions (ack T Rowe). ABC (along with ABC1) also refers to the JICNARS  demographics system of social grades classifications, and to the Airway, Breathing, Circulation first-aid reminder of what to check first in a casualty.


Above and Beyond the Call of Duty. Whether this acronym originated in the armed services is not clear. These days it is just as applicable to the civilian work environment, and particularly the need to ensure a healthy work-life-balance. A reminder also for all managers and corporations that people who go the extra mile, beyond normal expectations, are to be treasured and suitably rewarded, not exploited. (ack T Rowe)



Abbreviated Coded Rendition Of Name Yielding Meaning. Fine example of the 'backronym' art and very apt for near top of the list. A wonderful talking point for dinner parties, (thanks Ralph Johnston). Alternatively and brilliantly (thanks Marc Jones) this version is wonderful: A Completely Random Order Never Yields Meaning. Additionally and equally impressively:  Alphabetically Correct Representation Of Neologically Yclept Magniloquence (thanks B Coates). Here's what the unusual words mean: Neologically (describing a word that has been newly created, from French 'neologisme', meaning a newly created word); Yclept (meaning 'so called', or 'going by the name of', derived from an even older English word, 'gecleopod', the past participle of 'cleopian', meaning 'call', in turn from old Germanic language); Magniloquence (meaning 'the use of grand or powerful language' - from Latin 'magnus', great, and 'loquus', speaking).


Absurdly Contrived Representations Of Names Yielding Mass Stupefication. As above.. (Thanks A Brady)


A Classification Of Residential Neighbourhoods. Acronym for the CACI Ltd research organization's system of demographics classifications, used for consumer marketing in the UK. More about ACORN and other demographics classifications. In the US, ACORN also stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which claims to be the USA's largest community organization representing low-income and moderate-income families, "...working together for social justice and stronger communities..."


Action Conquers Terror. Straight to the point, very true, no-nonsense acronym (thanks P Myers). The human body and mind are capable of far more than we realise. Fears are truly conquered when we confront them. Action exposes fears and 'can't do' feelings as purely attitudinal. Action looks forward - completely disregarding the past or habit and inertia. Action - to start something new or to overcome an obstacle - is the simplest and surest way to make a change. See also  JFDI.


Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation. The process of innovation, any field at all. Deviate from it at your peril. (Ack. Don Clark)


All Day I Dream About Sex/All Day I Dream About Shoes. Perhaps the best of the wonderful ADIDAS backronyms (Thanks respectively PF and S Morissette). There are more and weirder ones in the ADIDAS entry in corporanyms section. If you have others to share feel free to send them. These backronyms are not a reference to the Adidas company, merely wordplay using the name.


... Overcome/Overtaken By Events? (or maybe ... Or Be Eaten?) It's a mystery. If you know please contact us.This seems to be a US armed forces acronym from WWII. See the pictures, kindly provided by Lorna. The picture is on a wall in a house in Liverpool, left by US troops billeted there in the Second World War. The AEOBE acronym is on the left breast of the soldier aiming the catapult. On the front of the Jeep the acronym SNAFU can be seen above the radiator grille. Thanks Lorna for these fine pictures, and C Yates and R Reid for the suggestions that the last three letters possibly/probably stand for Overcome By Events/Overtaken By Events. OBE is seemingly used in this way in US Defense and US Defense contracting, referring to plans or situations rendered obsolete for the reason implied. Apparently novelist Tom Clancy has used the term in this context. Maybe Attack Enemy Or Be Eaten (thanks T Baldridge), Always Eat Or Be Eaten (P Mead), Americans Eat Or Be Eaten (D Gregoire), or what about Adapt, Evade, Overcome By Endurance (J Patterson).


SNAFU world war II picture



Apoplexy, Epilepsy, Injury, Opium or other drugs, Uraemia, Dead Drunk and Diabetes. Medical acronym and useful mnemonic for remembering the different possible diagnoses of unconsciousness. (Ack Dr Duffield)


Another Flipping Learning Opportunity. A big mistake or onerous task. (Ack JC)


All Fine On Leaving. (ODSA) Nurses abbreviation on patient notes.


Ask For The Order. The 'psychological imperative' and one of the most important rules of selling, despite which, millions of sales people usually forget it.


Acute Gravity Attack. (ODSA) In other words, the patient fell over, from Nova Scotia orthopaedics and no doubt used elsewhere. See also PAFO. (Ack KP)


Asshole Of The Year Award. From the consumer electrical equipment repair industry, although widely applicable elsewhere. An amusing acronym which all decent folk can privately enjoy when faced with irrational, threatening, anti-social behaviour and those exhibiting it, be they ignorant customers, bullying bosses, or aggressive next-door-neighbours, etc. (ack PM Christian)



Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Your communications and communications processes in selling, advertising or any other efforts designed to motivate others to action must follow this sequence to succeed. The AIDA acronym is also extended to AIDCA, in which the 'C' is for Commitment or Conviction (on the part of the customer or audience), although many would assert that this is wholly implicit within 'Action'. AIDA is a fundamentally powerful and useful communications model. It is also known as the Hierarchy of Effects. See AIDA in sales training theory.


Also Known As. An remarkable acronym that's now so well established that it's virtually become a word, and certainly requires no reference to the original source words to be immediately understood. Aka is truly up there with the all-time great acronyms like radar, scuba, quango and yuppie.


A Kick Up The Arse/Ass. Motivational method of debatable value and limited use, rarely well timed or utilized (see the Aristotle quote about anger). In any event AKUTA is generally more effective when self-administered.


Always Listen First. Obviously great for training sessions generally, also counselling, customer service, selling, etc, and relationships overall. (Ack. M Booth)


Airplane Lands In Turin And Luggage In Ancona. Air travel acronym (strictly speaking a 'backronym' or 'bacronym') for those frustrating lost luggage moments. The metaphor is universal of course, although there would be certain destinations that could substitute and fit perfectly: Turkey, Tangiers, Australia, Alaska, etc. (Ack M Janes) Alternative meaning Always Late In Take-off Always Late In Arrival (Ack Chin). N.B. No offence intended towards Alitalia organization - these terms are generic and for comment on air travel experiences in general. More aviation acronyms are in the airlines acronyms list.


A Learning Opportunity. Generally something you'd rather not do that someone else has decided will be 'good for you'... (Ack. JC)


All Mouth And Trousers. Acronym version of an old English expression. See also BHNC.


Alert, Oriented times 3 (person, place, time). Nurses' and doctors shorthand used on patients' notes; this acronym transfers especially well to training sessions, to highlight the characteristics of someone fully alert and aware (and paying attention to the tutor). See also MEGO.


All-Points Bulletin. The classic USA police alert, as featured at least fifty times in every single episode of Hawaii Five-O, Cagney and Lacey, Kojak, Starsky and Hutch....


Attentive, Peripheral, Empathic. The three main types of listening. Empathic listening is the skill of understanding meaning and motive in another's words, a considerably powerful ability.


A Random act of Kindness. This is one of the most powerful forms of leadership. It can be performed by anyone, for anyone - and is entirely free of many of the usual constraints and restrictions found in conventional appreciations of leadership. No title or authority is required. There is typically no cost, other than a little time, although the giver may decide to spend personal funds towards the act. No permission or approval is required, provided it is offered sensitively and the recipient is given the opportunity to decline the offer, although recipients generally accept, and then become empowered and motivated to perform their own ARKs for others. We do not need to be wealthy or in high office to perform ARKs. In fact we become enriched by giving. A Random act of Kindness can change lives. The concept can change the world. It is an element of, and relates strongly to, Servant Leadership (see Leadership Theories and see  Love).


Annualised Revenues Per User. ARPU is a favourite and fundamental financial measure used by the big consumer services corporations, especially the massive global corporations in the broadcast, telephony and internet sectors. ARPU basically represents the average sales or billing value that the corporation is able to extract from each customer in a year. ARPU in the collective and inter-related markets of telephony, entertainment, information, internet connectivity and broadcast is likely to be threatened by the progressive development and availability of free or low-cost technology and content, the growth of which is arguably bound to squeeze the life out of some very large traditional profit-driven corporations now caught between two irresistible market forces: at one end by the free user-based content enabled by the world wide web, and at the other end by free broadband connectivity (and subsequent technologies) enabled by local and national schemes to establish free high-speed big-capacity 'wi-fi' access for everyone, on the basis that such infrastructure is vital for local and national competitiveness. This battle for control of content and internet distribution - now under way - will become one of the defining global issues of the modern age.


Assuming Room Temperature. Paramedic term for the condition of a patient when all hope is gone, ie., dead. Technically only a physician can declare someone dead, so the paramedics use this acronym to get around the protocol, not least when absence of life would be obvious to even a blind gerbil. In this context, 'assuming room temperature' means that since the patient is dead their body is no longer regulating its own temperature and instead is 'assuming the temperature of the ambient'. (Ack T Easton)


Anti-Social Behaviour Order. A controversial UK crime prevention mechanism in the form of a civil restriction issued by a magistrate's court, placed on a person who is deemed to have committed a public nuisance offence, which for example instructs the person not to visit a specified location, or to engage in a particular activity. By their nature ASBOs are not easy to enforce and their effectiveness has been long debated. The acronym term has grown to be used as a word referring to a type of young delinquent person associated with public nuisance offences and a recipient of the order. It is surprising that a bacronym seems not yet to have been devised for this abbreviation; perhaps one has. Let me know.


Age, Site, Depth, Area. This acronym illustrates the immensely useful aspect of the acronym as a teaching and communications device, aside from its value as a branding method. First, ASDA is memorable because it is the name of the UK supermarket chain, now owned by Walmart, but named ASDA in 1965 via the contraction of 'Asquith and Dairies' (not Associated Dairies, as commonly believed). The alternative recent 'bacronym' interpretation is a very clever technical healthcare acronym (ack Paul) used in emergency assessment of burns victims, devised by the Specialist Burns Unit at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside, used by the Merseyside Regional Ambulance service and no doubt elsewhere too. Age = age of patient; Site = where on the body; Depth = depth in mm or superficial/partial thickness/full thickness (redlining of skin/blister/all skin damaged charred); and Area = area of burn, usually given as a percentage of body area according to the ingenious 'rule of nines', a methodology based on proportions, because people are different sizes. The 'rule of nines' divides the body into eleven sections: head, chest, abdomen, upper and lower back, each arm, each thigh and each lower leg. Each section represents 9% of total body area. The balancing 1% is reserved for the genitals, which arguably would constitute the greatest emergency burn of them all. In one acronym we see many different aspects of how we use language and systems to enhance understanding, awareness and procedures. Fascinating.


Activity, Skills, Knowledge. Super acronym for training and development, especially sales and account management, since these three components are essential for success and productive performance. Arguably the order should be Knowledge, Skills, Activity, as this would be the order of training, but 'SKA' doesn't have quite the same ring. Alternative interpretation especially for roles where activity is reactive rather than proactively motivated, can be Attitude, Skills, Knowledge. (Ack RC)


Always Stating The Really Obvious. Various uses at work and play. Similar to calling a person 'Captain Obvious', which is very amusing as well. See also STBO. (Ack D)


All Talk No Action. See also BHNC.


Absent Without Leave. Military acronym, which implied a few days in the punishment block for the absconder when apprehended, the expression is now well established in life generally and applied to any missing, lost or wandered-off person or item causing breach of rules or mere inconvenience. An alternative meaning (ack A Gow) of AWOL applies in the healthcare industry as an abbreviation on patients' notes: All Well On Leaving.


Alert, Voice, Pain, Unresponsive. First aiders training acronym used in casualty assessment, relating to a victim's level of response: A means Alert; V means responds to Voice; P means responds to Pain; U means Unresponsive, (ack G Chamberlain). AVPU is a descending scale of brain state in which 'alert' is the highest level of conscious control and awareness, down to 'unresponsive', which is effectively unconscious or worse. When a casualty's condition moves down the AVPU scale this logically signifies a deepening affect on the brain. AVPU is a simplification and quick test based on the more complex Glasgow Coma Scale, devised by neurosurgery professors Graham Teasdale and Bryan Jennett of Glasgow University in 1974 (thanks G Wylie). Less conventionally the AVPU acronym might also be used as an interesting and amusing reference point in discussing or illustrating the 'fight or fight' unconscious reaction experienced in highly stressful situations such as public speaking, in which the higher levels or outer layers of the brain are temporarily shut down or over-ridden by the deeper parts of the brain associated with fundamental survival and bodily function.


Away With The Fairies. Medical/healthcare acronym from the ODSA stable. No longer politically correct in the clinical arena, this term is used on notes or charts to denote a patient who is in a confused or demented state. Doctors and nurses should use with extreme care, if at all, as it has become commonly known in recent years and relatives tend to get a little miffed. Having said which, the term is perfectly apt in the boardroom or shop floor if referring to senile old directors grimly hanging on to their old fashioned notions, as well as their dead men's shoes. (Ack Richard Beard)


Too Bloody Clever by Half. Polite and reasonably safe alternative to the fruitier 2FC/2 version. A warning for self or others as to the risks of complacency, over-complication, arrogance, pride (coming before a fall), etc.

B2B / B2C

Business To Business / Business To Consumer. B2B is widely used terminology in business and 'marketing-speak' to refer to a trading model where a business supplies other businesses, and by implication does not supply 'end-consumers'. B2C is a variation of the term and means Business To Consumer, for example all retail busineses, and online businesses selling to consumers. There are other variations, notably including B2G, which means Business To Government, i.e., a business which supplies governments and local authorities, such as the defence/defense industry, road-construction, and certain IT services forming part of government services. Somewhat less common variations are: B2E, which stands for Business To EverybodyB2A is Business To Anybody; and B2B2C is Business To Business To Consumer. More recently the internet has enabled massive development of the C2C sector ( Consumer To Consumer), also called P2P. See P2P (Peer To Peer), which is becoming an alternative to traditional B2C-based models, illustrated traditionaly by relatively insignificant 'car-boot sales' and 'yard sales', and more vastly and globally by E-Bay and other similar online shopping websites, which enable millions of private consumers to sell to each other.


Bugger All. Alternative interpretation of the famous British Airways initials allegedly devised by staff after pay cuts in 2009. It is also (thanks S Myles) a sarcastic alternative to Bachelor of Arts.


British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. This is a real organisation (thanks J Riley) and real acronym, which it uses prominently. BAAPS is based in The Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London. BAAPS states its aims to be the advancement of education in cosmetic surgery, and also the advancement of its practice 'for the benefit of society'. First pioneered as reconstructive surgery for injured soldiers in the First World War, plastic or cosmetic surgery is now more popularly associated with expensive and occasionally controversial cosmetic alteration of people's bodies, notably women's breasts, and also people's facial features and other unmentionable bodily bits and pieces that some folk wish to alter for one reason or another. This is not to say there are no vital and wholly worthy applications of the science; there are of course. Amusingly the BAAPS 2009 website says that the Association has 'ear marked' funding for half the costs of the Aesthetic tutor based at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Whether this pun and the bigger one involving the acronym name are intentional we can only guess. I was going to resist the temptation to tell the one about the plastic surgeon who sat down in front of the fire and melted, but I didn't.


Built Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. Partner acronym and ideal next stage to NIMBY. (Ack D Bodycombe)


Bang Another Nuisance Job Out. Sister acronym to JFDI. For those irksome tasks that won't go away, no matter how long you leave them at the bottom of the in-tray. (Ack. Julie Bramhall)


Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. Acronym name for the early computer programming language. Makes a good quiz question. (Ack R Leviton) See also COBOL. Additionally and alternatively (thanks T Bastock) BASIC has in past times been amusingly interpreted by IT technicians and to mean Bugger-All Sense In Computing.


Business As Usual. This is an interesting one (thanks S Rowe) - Business As Usual is a very common expression where outwardly a business, typically a shop or small trade premises, might appear shut or hampered, for example by building work or security/safety problem. In fact the expression was once an official UK government policy, during the First World War (1914-18), under prime minister Herbert H Asquith, and reinforced by Winston Churchill at the time (long before he led Britain in the 2nd WW) - in which the aim was to maintain social norms during wartime, thus not conceding any change or weakening, in spite of the enemy and the difficult times. The BAU expression - which is now used widely in various work situations where pressure/interruption seems present - retains a similar sense of tolerance and forbearance.


Bullshit Baffles Brains. Long-established alliterative (i.e., words together or close which strongly feature the same letters or sounds) expression more recently converted into an acronym (Thanks D Taylor). There is some truth to this rather rude maxim, in that highly persuasive people can often dominate highly intelligent people, if only by force of argument, or by securing the support of easily influenced associates and bystanders. The famous 'Emperor's new clothes' analogy aptly illustrates such an effect, since generally for the BBB phenomenon to withstand scrutiny there is typically a tendency among the persuaded to lack necessary confidence or courage or interest to challenge the assertions of the bullshitter. I am additionally informed (thanks A Payne) of the equivalent mock or false 'Latin' term: "Excreta tauri astutos frustrantur".

BBSS or B2S2

Big Boobs, See Soon. Appalling and very scary doctors' notes shorthand acronym. See the even more unsettling TUBE. (Ack JW)


Brain Dead User. Covert IT technical support staff acronym to describe a human failing instead of equipment or software fault. When you next hear reference to a BDU error, ask for an explanation... (Ack NM) See also ID10T, PEBCAK and PICNIC.


Behaviour, Effect, Expectation, Results. The headings by which to assess performance of anything, particularly a new initiative. A great discipline when working with a team or delegating another to conduct a review, when it's important to keep the review focused. (Ack. Don Clark)


Beliefs, Evidence, Needs, Desires, Wounds, Interests, Mentors, Proud of. A model, typically used as a table or template or matrix for identifying motivations and issues of stakeholders within a project plan. This has the look of something that could be protected intellectual property so I'd urge caution if you intend to exploit it outsode of a passing reference. The BENDWIMP acronym is apparently used by Tony Robbins, who seems also to be the originator. (My thanks to Steve Buonaugurio, who emailed to suggest it was first coined by Tony Robbins. Robbin's use of BENDWIMP is also confirmed by Robert Buttrick, who emailed me to confirm it featured on a Robbins seminar handout.)


Brute Force and Ignorance. An expression found in everyday language since the early 1900s, meaning a heavy handed unrefined solution to a problem (especially fixing something - like bashing an electrical appliance to get it working again). In more recent times BFI (and variant BFMI - Brute Force and Massive Ignorance) is aptly applied also to certain areas of design (for example software or computing systems) in which previous proven effective methods are ignored, resulting in a new but clumsy and unsuccessful outcome. Similar application of the BFI expression can be made to strategic thinking - notably in politics and business - where arrogant leaders, driven by subjective idealism, religious justification, ego, personal gain, etc., wilfully force through disastrous campaigns or changes, rather than using the lessons of history and real intelligence to help formulate proper sensible ideas. (Thanks E Key)


Big Hairy-Arsed Goal/Big Hairy-Assed Goal. The polite version 'Big Hairy Audacious Goal' doesn't have quite the same ring to it (no pun intended). (Ack M Cook) Provides an additional interpretation (and emphasises the WIIFM motivational theory) of the word 'bag' when used to refer to someone's area of interest or expertise, for example, when turning down an offer or opportunity with the response, "Not my Bhag I'm afraid...."


Big Hat No Cattle. What a great expression. The abbreviation is all the more amusing because it looks like some kind of highly official certificate for the construction or maritime industry. See also AMAT and  FCNK.


Boss Is A Twit/Twerp/Twat etc. No nonsense here... one of the more direct modern workplace acronyms. (Ack R Biggs)


Break It Down. When training anything to anybody never teach the whole thing all at once. Break the skill or process down to digestible parts. This will avoid destroying confidence, and enable gradual progress to the point that the whole thing can be practiced.


Basking In Reflected Glory. This is a wonderful old expression, made modern (and more fascinating too) by its recent rendering in acronym form and use in the psychology of social identity. This relates directly to human motivation in many ways. Psychologist Robert Cialdini and author of the best-selling book 'Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion' helped significantly to popularize the BIRGing terminology and concept, and conducted extensive research demonstrating BIRGing behaviour theory and its wide existence. The 'BIRG effect' or 'BIRGing' refers to a person seeking to associate him/herself with the success or appeal of someone or something else, and thereby (the person seeks) to enhance his/her own personal image/reputation in the opinions of others. (See also the Halo Effect.) Nearly all of us do it (BIRGing) in one way or another. The behaviour is rooted in self-esteem, self-image, security/insecurity. In turn, instincts and motivations around BIRGing may be more deeply driven, at an evolutionary survival and procreation level - basically humans exist to attract/form relationships and mate, or we would not be here at all. At a superficial level we see examples of BIRGing everywhere, fundamentally yet very subtly, in the wearing of strongly branded clothing and apparel. We see it in people who like to drive very aspirational car brands, and in the aims and effects of aspirational and lifestyle branding more broadly. BIRGing most definitely features very strongly in social networking websites and computer/phone applications involving 'liking' and 'following' people and things, and in affiliating to groups. The BIRGing phenomenon is very simply shown in the wearing of football club shirts, especially when the football club concerned is winning. Studies point to other evidence such as the tendency for political posters in voters' houses to be removed quickly after the candidate/party loses, compared to posters for triumphant candidates/parties, whose advertised support remains in windows much longer after the election result. More individually BIRGing can be seen when people affiliate seriously and very openly with a popular local person or entity, such as a leader or project or cause. The psychology of BIRGing can be related to Darwinian evolutionary theory, and also to Freudian theory on ego and self image, etc. BIRGing is a popular and light term, yet has serious influences and connections.


Babe In Total Control of Herself. Supreme interpretation or response for the typical insulting or envious use of the term. A small yet powerful example of redefining a negative into a positive. Finding the good angle - an essential instrument of success. (Thanks A MacGowan)


Back Later After Christmas Piss-up. Seasonal acronym for when work and customers must necessarily fit in around the festivities and holidays.


Base-Line Test. More boring and less tasty alternative to the more common usage - Bacon Lettuce and Tomato (sandwich). (Ack Don Clark)


Bottom Line Up Front. Simply this means (and warns the reader) that the key point is summarised at the start or top of the communication. BLUF is a wonderfully potent acronym, useful in many situations. BLUF (thanks M Callaham) originated in the US military in written communications, where it serves as as an immediate emphasis and prefix of the central point of the message or report. It equates to the expressions 'cutting to the chase' and 'without beating around the bush'. In structural terms, the BLUF technique equates to an 'executive summary', which is a very brief summary of the strategically essential point(s) positioned at the start of the communication. This itself is normally a very concisely reduced version of a larger summary at the end of the document, based on the greater detail within the main part of the document or communication. A major learning and usage aspect of BLUF is the communicator's responsibility to present information to the reader or listener or audience efficiently, especially for senior and very busy people, who often have neither time nor need to read and absorb lots of detail. Senior people especially want the main point(s) - the' bottom line' - first - 'up front'. In management, and in the military, senior people rely on junior people to take care of the detail and to provide the strategic interpretation by which big decisions can be made. Incidentally the term 'bottom line' is a figurative reference to the bottom line in corporate financial accounts, which contains the profit or loss figure, crucial to most organized ventures and organizations. While BLUF remains popular in US military communications, its usefulness has spread and its adoption can be helpful into very many situations where effective speedy communication is valued. This includes notably: business and management communications (especially involving strategic decision-making); quick report-writing and conveying updates and status; emergency response and reactions (reporting up and informing down the management structure); presentations and speeches and talks; writing of press releases, PR materials, and also advertising and consumer or 'general-public audience' communications (in which the actual inclusion of the term BLUF is generally not appropriate - here BLUF serves more of a structural reminder to the writer).


Before My Time. If you are a new broom trying to sweep clean, this is a useful response to the 'we've always done it that way' school of thought. In other words, 'that was then and this is now'. (Ack M Paretski)


Bitch, Moan and Whine/Whinge. Behaviour that can be exhibited by a group when stressed, demotivated or unhappy with their situation. Also a common subject area in meetings where the purpose and facilitation perhaps requires a more a positive focus or perspective. (Ack Denise) If you are a manager or team leader and ever find yourself having to handle a BMW session, give the group encouragement, responsibility and suitable freedom to identify and pursue constructive response, change and improvement. Focus on positive response rather than blame. Here are a couple of helpful quotes in this connection: "You have a choice whether to be part of the steam roller or part of the road.." (unknown) and"If you're not part of the solution you must be part of the problem.." (the commonly paraphrased version of the original quote: "What we're saying today is that you're either part of the solution, or you're part of the problem.." by Eldridge Cleaver 1935-98, founder member and information minister of the Black Panthers, American political activist group, in a speech in 1968). More relevant motivational quotes are on the quotes page. BMW is also interpreted in some police circles (ack P&J) as Break My Windows, being a reflection of the car make's tendency to attract envious attack, either through envy or because the mark is a favourite among gangsters who attract aggressive attentions. Additionally (ack Ed P) BMW is interpreted to form other ironic meanings such as the somewhat offensive Built by Migrant Workers; the irresitibly smile-inducing Big-up My Willy, and probably funniest of all to the folk who particularly resent the car brand and what they think it stands for: Bought Mainly by Wankers. There are some other automotive-related interpretations of BMW in the automotive aconyms list, interestingly including (ack G Boyle) Bersten Mal Wieder, which is apparently used by German folk, and means 'Bust Again'.


Bicycle MotoCross. Generally in modern times BMX is seen to refer to a style of small-wheeled, small-framed bicyle on which young people, especially boys, can perform more agile moves than when riding a conventionally designed bike. While BMX is a very widely recognized abbreviation, its origins and precise meaning are far less well known. The BMX term was introduced in the 1970s when bicycle enthusiasts developed bikes, skills, and tracks with obstacles similar to those featuring in motorbike motocross (off-road motorbike trials riding/racing). In addition to BMX off-road riding, BMX bike-riding quickly became very popular in urban areas, not least because pedestrianized areas of towns (shopping centres, etc) offered slopes and curves on which to ride and practise skills, much as in the development of skateboarding. BMX bikes, designed for rugged riding and acrobatics, also proved popular in young people's fashion, and no doubt with parents of kids who appreciated the strong design and construction of BMX bikes, which tended to withstand tough treatment, and encouraged a generation of youngsters to play outdoors perhaps more than would otherwise have been the case. Sadly local councils and planners were very slow to realise that BMX riding, and skateboarding too, are actually good things for young people to do. Aside from the social and sporting aspects of BMX riding, the abbreviation BMX itself is a very good example of a term which nearly everyone knows, but few understand its precise origins/meaning.


Bloody Near Dead. (Medical notes abbreviation) used since 1980s, in Australia; probably elsewhere too. See also BUNDY. (Thanks K Mildred)


Better On A Camel. Younger viewers perhaps will not know the old BOAC airline, which officially stood for British Overseas Airways Corporation. BOAC was the British state airline from 1939-74, after which it merged with BEA (British European Airways - amusingly alternatively interpreted as Back Every Afternoon, since night stops were uncommon for BEA) to become British Airways. (Thanks ET and R Jones) More funny BOAC bacronyms and other aviation acronyms are in the airlines acronyms list below.


Battery Operated Boyfriend. Amusing pet name for a vibrator, and perhaps the cleverest and funniest BOB bacronym. Unrelated to this, BOB also stands for a couple of common expressions which sometimes find their way into business-speak: Bend Over Backwards (describing a challenging task in testing circumstances), and Best Of Breed (the leading example within a certain category, notably technical solutions or products). Less seriously, BOB may also mean Betty Or Bloke (thanks C Carlson) in referring to a person of uncertain gender, which apparently, like other amusing and somewhat non-pc slang, originated in the British military.


Body Off Baywatch, Face Off Crimewatch. Nightclub and dating vernacular, and not gender specific. (Ack JHB)


Burnt Out But Opulent. Various applications, including references to property and people, the image is one of exhausted or useless wealth or luxury. (Thanks GJ)


Belief, Optimism, Courage, Conviction, Action. For the process of change. (Ack M Cook)


Brackets, Order (means power, e.g. power of two shown as 2), Divide, Multiply, Add, Subtract. BODMAS (thanks J McColl) provides the sequence for working out and constructing mathematical equations and formulas ('formulae' to be precise) containing more than one calculation. This methodology is commonly referred to as the order of mathematical 'operations'. For example does 2 x 5 + 3 = 13 or 16? BODMAS tells us to multiply before adding, so the answer is 13. Or the formula could be shown with brackets to give clearer indication, for example (2 x 5) + 3 = 13, or 2 x (5 + 3) = 16. In those two examples we calculate the brackets first. Remember that the word 'Order' in BODMAS means power, as in 102 means 10 to the power of two (i.e., 10 x 10, or 10 squared). Thus BODMAS helps both to construct and work out a formula such as (3 + 4)2+ (6 ÷ 2)3 = 76. A more complex example might be 25 + 33 ÷ 11 x (27 ÷ 9)2 = what? and where on earth do you start? BODMAS instructs us to work it out in the sequence below. BODMAS is therefore very useful for non-mathematical folk when trying to construct complex formulas (formulae) for spreadsheet cells. I hasten to add (no pun intended) that I am not a mathematician and I welcome suggestions for improving this item. Incidentally the final rule - work left to right - is not covered by BODMAS, but extending the acronym to BODMAWLTR somewhat spoils the effect. See also PEMDAS.

  starting formula 25 + 33 ÷ 11 x (27 ÷ 9)2 - 2
B Brackets first, giving: 25 + 33 ÷ 11 x (3)2 - 2
O Order (power) next, giving: 25 + 33 ÷ 11 x 9 - 2
D Divide next, giving: 25 + 3 x 9 - 2
M Multiply next, giving: 25 + 27 - 2
A Addition next, giving: 52 - 2
S Subtraction next, giving: 50


Buy One Get One For Free. Marketingspeak, but also great for emphasising the need for creative thinking to achieve cost-effective, high perceived value promotional selling.


Bunch Of Guys Sitting Around Talking. A reference to an aimless, unproductive or pointless meeting, especially of managers/executives, typically from the standpoint of excluded or unwilling participants.


Bend Over, Here It Comes Again. A fine motto for all who suffer under incompetent management. If you're a Theory-X manager (see Douglas McGregor X-Y Theory), your staff will regularly use this in your honour. For a free BOHICA colour poster see the free businessballs posters page. And if you are a CEO and you begin to see a few BOHICA posters appearing around the place, then perhaps start asking yourself some questions about your organisational culture and management style.. (thanks to Ralph Johnston for suggesting this acronym.)


Back Of Hand On Forehead. For those BOHOF moments.


Brotherhood Of Man (under the) Fatherhood Of God. Paternalistic - and thoroughly patronising - expression of traditional values still held by many, including some who lead us. Accepting modern politically correct adaptations, BOMFOG attitudes typically sit snugly alongside the marginalisation of women and all other historically brow-beaten groups. Nowadays more importantly, BOMFOG thinking undermines humankind's independence and development. Nigel Rees, the commentator and language expert refers to BOMFOG as an acronym for a pompous meaningless generality. This interpretation - and the wider implications of BOMFOG - have a very relevant modern resonance with a certain arrogant deluded leadership style (akin to Theory Y, but altogether more deeply insidious) that we often see in the western world, which seeks to suppress and control all good and honest folk - people like you and me, capable of mature independent thoughts and actions of far greater purity and truth than those exhibited by our leaders, supported incidentally by much of our media. Leadership - and government, and any organized system - should be a force for genuine individual aspiration and emotional maturity. Regrettably however many sorts of leadership - especially of significant scale - eventually degenerate into control, manipulation, sham, and BOMFOG principles. By the way the term BOMFOG is linked most famously with certain very grand quotes attributed to the Rockerfellers (Nelson and John D) around the mid 1900s, generally pronouncing how a new world can be established, based on their own (superior, western, 'enlightened') view of life, and the assumption that holding such a view somehow includes the right to impose it on others. Sounds familiar?...


Balanced, Observed, Objective, Specific, Timely, Enhancing, Relevant. Useful acronym for coaching and giving feedback to people. If anyone knows the origins please tell me. (Ack C Lloyd)


Background, Objectives, Scope, Constraints, Assumptions, Reporting, Dependencies, Estimates, Timescales. Very useful acronym (thanks J O'Connor) for inception of projects, committees, investigations (inquiries), studies, reports, etc, where purpose, parameters and ground-rules etc., have to be established. It was/is used (apparently originally by Hoskyns, who later became Cap Gemini) as a reminder of the headings for a terms of reference document. You will note there's no specific heading for costs/budgets/financial controls, so care needs to be taken to include these items, logically within Constraints and/or Estimates. For a fuller explanation of Terms of Reference see 'agreement of specification - project management'. Or see Terms of Reference in the business dictionary.


Business Process Outsourcing. An acronym from recent times, covering a multitude of activities that are commonly outsourced today, for example, call centre and customer services, IT, HR and training, telemarketing, recruitment, health and safety, quality assurance and accreditation, manufacturing, logistics, sales and promotion, R&D, and pretty well anything else that a corporation might have considered a core function before outsourcing came along. I'm wondering when the first example of an outsourced board of directors will be seen....


Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Nothing. Decision-making aid, applicable and useful for all sorts of situations. What are the benefits and risks from a particular course of action or option or default? What are the alternatives (also considering their benefits and risks)? And finally always remember that there is the option to do nothing, which on occasions can be the best thing. (Ack A Jones)


Brazil, Russia, India, China. In the early 21st century these are the 'Big Four' rapidly expanding national economies of the world. This increasingly visible acronym emphasises the growing significance of the emerging markets and economic powers, and the fact that the world is changing - in fact has already changed. It may not be long before the older economies (UK, US, etc) start to find manufacturing and low-skilled jobs returning, for the same reasons they were once moved away. The BRIC acronym is said to have been originated by Jim O'Neill, Goldman Sach's chief economist, in 2001. See also MINT.


BullShit. Normally shown as bullshit. BS is a very succinct expletive, usually referring to misleading language or nonsense, or frustrating bureaucracy, etc. It originated in the US and is now used widely in the English speaking world, to the extent that the BS expression is now very rarely considered truly offensive. Where it is, a polite amusing alternative version is Bovine Stool. I am grateful to J Kelmar for contributing the also amusing alternative rendering of university degree abbreviations (used in some parts of the world), beginning with BS (Bull Shit), through to MS (More Shit), peaking at PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper). Sadly in the UK, Bachelor of Science is normally shown as BSc, and Master of Science as MSc, which offer less opportunity for such mischief.


Bloody Sore Arse/Ass. The BSA motorbike was not famed for its comfortable ride... Of course the usage is not restricted to motorbiking. Apparently the expression can be heard in the Dambusters film in a conversation between pilot and co-pilot after a particularly long flight, illustrating the expression's succinct and flexible quality. (Ack S Adam)


British Transport Police. More amusingly the acronym allegedly takes on an alternative meaning among certain transport staff who translate instead to mean Be There Presently (or Possibly or Potentially) when enquiry demand from customers exceeds the staff resource that is available to respond. (Ack AB)


By The Way. One of the most commonly used abbreviations today, meaning 'incidentally' or 'in passing', and, BTW, originally meaning 'by the way of a secondary subject or matter', which was earlier shortened to 'by the bye', which has now almost passed out of use. 'By the way' is referenced in 1870s Brewer, so it's not a recent expresssion.


Buck Up For Flips Sake. Polite version of motivational expression used in the Royal Navy. The language might be crude, but the sentiment is a positive one (ack S Smyth). See also FIDO and  SUMO.


Best Universal Grit, Grime and Effluent Remover. A more polite alternative to the x-rated 'Finest Universal Cleaner Known' version below. Similar usage, for example, "..If Omo don't whiten it and Brasso don't brighten it, then BUUGGER it.." (Ack A Reeley)


Business Unit Leaders Leveraged High Intensity Training. Amusing bacronym from the business and training world. (Thanks A Smith)


Brakes, Undercarriage, Mixture, Fuel, Flaps, Pitch, Instruments, Carb heat, Hatches, Harnesses. Pre-landing checks system popular in private pilot licence training. Sometimes extended to BUMFFPICHHL and BUMFFPICHHLC to include Landing light and Clearance.


But Unfortunately Not Dead Yet. Nurses/doctors/receptionists shorthand, but has many other applications elsewhere. I am informed that an extended version: TF-BUNDY (where the TF stands for 'Totally Fecked') is in routine use in at least one region of the UK. A further example of how dark humour is used to counter the darker aspects of human experience. (Ack DW)


Be Undressed and Ready My Angel. Armed forces acronym code used typically on the backs of envelopes containing letters to sweethearts at home, as other examples NORWICH, SWALK, HOLLAND, EGYPT, CHIP, etc. (Thanks pointing out this glaring omission BC.) I am additionally informed (thanks A Sanderson) of the option to augment BURMA with SIAM.


Bankrupt Unemployed Rejected Person. Never use this, just try to be kind and understanding. See Maslow.


Breathing Valuable Air. (ODSA) Apparently used in Los Angeles by nurses as a comment about less deserving patients. Amusing and highly efficient, and transferable to a wide variety of situations. (Ack KT)


Beached Whale Syndrome. (ODSA) Nurses and doctors shorthand acronym.


Bring Your Own Booze/Bottle. Widely used acronym used by party hosts and operators of unlicensed restaurants, instructing or requesting guests to bring drink, rather than expect it to be provided or available for purchase at the venue. There are other variations, for example, Bring Your Own Beef (for barbeques), Bring Your Own Bagels (gatherings of Jewish folk, or anyone really who likes bagels), and Bring Your Own Bag(s) (for shops keen to reduce use of free carrier bags). The Australian version is commonly altered to BYOG, Bring Your Own Grog. It has been suggested that Bring Your Own Basket(s) (for picnics) was an older version of the term although this seems not to be substantiated, and frankly I doubt it will be because the notion is a little bit daft. (Thanks P Bruton)


Consumer To Consumer. Marketing/trading model by which ordinary people sell and provide products/services to each other. It's an ancient model, prehistoric in fact, virtually extinguished by the industrial revolution and corporate age, (see  B2B/B2C), although persisting in yard sales and private ads, etc., and latterly happily enabled to revive and grow in the 21st century to vast global proportions by the internet, for example E-Bay, Amazon, Taobao (China), etc. Also called P2P (Peer To Peer - see P2P for lots more detail) the model threatens the dominance or even existence of some very large industries, within which the internet actually or potentially now replaces most of the 'added value' ('middleman'/security/expertise/etc) services traditionally offered by corporations, notably and excitingly for example in banking, insurance, etc.


Can't Add, Doesn't Even Try. Assessment acronym for the numerically and motivationally challenged.


Cover All Possibilities. Versatile training and planning acronym. A more polite mnemonic than the P6 expression. (Thanks L Woodhouse).


Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. You will probably have used a captcha without realising that it has this strange name, or that it has a name at all. A captcha is the distorted code you copy and type into a website form. The code is unique and random and distorted so that computers (hopefully) cannot read and re-use it, which guards websites against mischievous or criminal automated attack. However, the speedy development of malevolent technology used by hackers and computer criminals (you could call it 'captcha catchup'..) means that the captcha designers must stay ahead of the bad guys, to keep captcha systems impregnable to automated computer violation. Incidentally when a captcha system is breached it enables what is known as a 'denial of service attack' (DoS attack), whereby a website or multi-user computer system is brought down by computer-automated enormous and unmanageable volumes of requests or actions, occasionally for the purposes of blackmailing the site operators, but often for reasons unrelated to monetary gain. The captcha is not the only angle of DoS attack, but the captcha does represent perhaps the earliest strategic battleground in the struggle to protect the web. Captcha is one of the most interesting and convoluted acronyms ever devised, seemingly by Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, Nicholas Hopper and John Langford in 2000. The acronym reflects its technical meaning and origins, and also reflects its purpose, which while primarily acting as a security device, also enables the 'capture' of data. The Turing test element refers to the exceptional English mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing and his theory and test work, first published in 1950, dealing with artificial intelligence and comparisons between human and computer 'thinking' capabilities. Alan Turing (1912-54) was a fascinating character in his own right - regarded as a founder of computer science, he was part of the famous and pivotal codebreaking team at Bletchley Park in the Second World War, and subsequently went on to pioneer the development of early computers and artificial intelligence. Shamefully his country later saw fit to prosecute and convict him for being a homosexual, following which he committed suicide in 1954, aged forty-one. Today Britain is very keen to patronise and impose our holier than thou ideas on the developing world. As with any situation where one seeks influence and change, perhaps a little more humility and awareness of our own past (and ongoing) failings would be more constructive.


Counselling, Advice, Referral, Assessment and Throughcare. Acronym used in HM Prison Service (of the UK) referring to prison drug services and the programmes therein. The term (sometimes understandably mistaken to be CARROT) also extends to the assistance and workers involved in the delivery of prisoner drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation. The acronym does not signify a sequential process, but instead the elements contained within it. The actual sequence would typically place the Assessment element ahead of Advice and Referral, but the resulting CAART was presumably not memorable enough, or perhaps too close to the slang term 'cart', meaning prison or gallows, derived from the the late 1500s when horse-drawn carts were used for prisoner transport, and which is the origin of the modern expression 'in the cart' meaning to be in trouble or difficulty. The element called Throughcare might alternatively be represented as Aftercare (after release). We must assume that Throughcare was preferred because devising a useful mnemonic with three A's, a C and and R would have been impossible. There is an interesting lesson in this, aside from illustrating the elements of a rehabilitation process, namely that a good acronym should be memorable and distinct in its abbreviated and full form, and unfortunately CARAT is not, despite the very worthy aims and activities which underpin it.


Cover Arse, Remain Employed. (US version: Cover Ass, Remain Employed) A clever and amusing acronym arising in employment, work and training situations, emerging in the 2000s, notably more so since the global funding crisis starting in 2008. Technically CARE is also a bacronym, and a very meaningful one too on the basis that 'care' equates to caution (in decision-making and freedoms extended to people) and prudence (in investment and funding and credit issues). Caution and prudence are fine if justified, but not if caution or prudence has an obstructive and choking effect on initiative, creativity, change, growth, success, etc., which fear-driven backside-covering often tends to do. (Thanks P Halstead)


Computer Assisted Self-Help. An acronym for the modern age. Computer-based methods for self-improvement, even therapy, are becoming increasingly viable, effective and common. Actually, and logically, Businessballs is a Computer Assisted Self-Help website, despite its limited functionality. Computer Assisted Self-Help can be very effective with or without the support of a real person, and we should expect to see significant development and availability of CASH products and services, offered via data storage devices and online through websites and intranets, etc. The additional ongoing development of artificial intelligence and its incorporation within computer-based applications will ensure that CASH websites and services become progressively sophisticated and widespread, across many different fields, from stress-management to life-change, marriage guidance to addictions counselling, and just about any other attitudinal or behavioural change you can imagine. (With acknowledgements to Steve Cottrell.)


Completely Bloody Ignorant. 'Backronym' apparently popularised by some Civil Service staff in response to remarks by Digby Jones (as Director General of the Confederation of British Industry) about Civil Service (public sector) pay and pensions. (Ack N Spargo)


Chief Has Arrived On Scene. From the Fire Rescue Service in Georgia US, and no doubt used elsewhere too. If not then it should be. For interfering bosses everywhere. (Ack J Attison)


Council Housed And Violent. Note this is not the origin of the word chav, it's a modern mischievous 'bacronym' based on the chav slang slang word for a vulgar and/or anti-social person (male or female). The bacronym meaning is entirely made-up, but reflects a certain view in society of the description. See the likely actual word origins of chav. See also TPT for what is arguably the US equivalent. I am also informed (thanks C Haynes) of the alternative bacronym rendering of CHAV, apparently in parts of the UK West Midlands, and no less disrespectful than the one mentioned already, in fact probably substantially more disrespectful - Council House Asbo Vermin. (See ASBO)


Chick Hunting In North Africa. Naval acronym, suitably toned down because the original meaning is too rich for this page. Possibly the most outrageous acronym in this listing. (Ack S Dancer)


Come Home I'm Pregnant. Another acronym gem from the 2nd World War, and potentially applicable today for husbands on prolonged residential training courses, drilling rigs and overseas work assignments - see also ITALY, HOLLAND, SWALK, BURMA and NORWICH, etc. (Thanks Sandy Fox)


Challenge, Location, Advancement, Money, Pride (or Prestige), Security. Employment and recruitment industry acronym: the six acceptable reasons for leaving your job if asked why in a job interview, cited by MJ Yate (interview guru and author). See the job interviews questions and answers page.


Clear, Loud, As an order, with Pauses. A very neat military acronym, actually also a backronym, transferable to various situations where very concise and especially compulsory instruction or delegation is required, for example in states of emergency or safety risk, or supervising young children, dogs or teenagers. The principle is easily applicable with a little adaptation for certain types of presentations. The key points also remind us to avoid waffle and unnecessary information when communicating vital and urgent instruction. (Thanks M Green)


Career Limiting Move. A reminder to think twice before embarking on any action that has an obvious whiff of disaster about it. (Ack R Gesling and S Phillips)


Cleaning Nasty Arses/Asses. (ODSA) Alternative 'backronym' intepretation instead of usual meaning, which is Certified Nurses Assistant, whose duties typically extend to feeding, changing linens, bathing, shaving, etc., and whose wages commonly do not far exceed minimum wage. (Ack Nick H)


COmmon Business Orientated Language. Acronym-derived name for the early computer language. (Ack RL) See also BASIC.


Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment. Relatively modern supply chain management term, sometimes more fully expressed as CPFDR (Collaborative Planning, Forecasting Demand and Replenishment). Alternatively and less likely: Continuance Policy - Domestic Relations Division (related to legal process in Philadelphia County USA). Or it's also a US Engineering qualification, or a microbiological term for a Mitochondrial-type Ferredoxin Oxidoreductase, when it would be shown as CpFdR.


Criminal Protection Society. Sarcastic alternative meaning to the official Crown Prosecution Service, the government body responsible for bringing criminal prosecutions on behalf of the state, (thanks J Heeley). CPS stands for many more relatively unexciting terms, notably in business Cost Per Sale, and in computing Cycles/Characters Per Second.


Cost Per ThousandCost Per Inquiry and Cost Per Conversion. Advertising terms and crucial measures of advertising and selling performance. CPT refers to the cost of reaching each thousand people of the target audience with the advertising message. CPI is the cost of each inquiry received, ie total advertising cost divided by the number of inquiries received. CPC is the total cost of each converted sale. Lowest CPT doesn't necessarily produce the lowest CPI, neither CPC. Lowest CPI doesn't necessarily produce lowest CPC. Conversion ratios or percentages between CPT, CPI and CPC are what count.


Can't Remember A Flipping Thing. Polite version. This acronym has various uses: for example Monday morning after Glastonbury or the Prague stag/hen weekend; those 'Senior' moments experienced by folk of advancing years. Or a tedious training course or meeting, or one of those awful 'pep up the workers' roadshow presentations by the new board of directors. (Ack L Speden, R Dale)


Chronological Random Ascending Pile. A common paperwork filing system particularly preferred by people of an Intuitive-Creative personality. The acronym and meaning are interesting and thought-provoking when exploring notions of  time management and personality, for example the theory of  Katherine Benziger. (This clever acronym, or technically bacronym, was perhaps originated by, and certainly referenced by T Bradford, freelance illustrator, writing in the Guardian newspaper 5 Feb 2011. If you know an earlier use please tell me.)


Currently Residing In The Where Are They Now File. The full expression perhaps originated, certainly features and achieved prominence in Rob Reiner's 1984 classic rock band spoof masterpiece movie This is Spinal Tap. A radio DJ refers to the band in this way. It's not the most easy to pronounce acronym, but is a fine example of the genre nevertheless. The term is widely applicable for all ideas, fashions, trends, personalities, must-haves, etc., which were once actually or hoped to be significant, but are now lost, hidden or conveniently forgotten. Use it to illustrate the fleeting nature of success, the whimsical nature of swarming humankind, or the fact, simply, that every dog has its day. What can seem in people's lives utterly crucial today, will almost certainly be insignificant given a little time. (Thanks P Smith for suggesting it.) See the CRITWATNF game


Can't Remember Shit/Stuff. (Thanks T White.) Alternatively Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, for that too-much-monosodium-glutamate-feeling. Perhaps the two feelings are related in some way.


Computer Says No. Needs no explanation.


Corporate Social Responsibility. A central aspect of capability and process within all all good organizations, and one of several related concepts within the 'ethical organisations' philosophy.


Cerca Trova. Italian, meaning 'He who seeks, finds' - more popularly interpreted to represent the expression 'Seek and you shall find'. Highly civilised and academic alternative to GAAFOFY, and  WIOFYFS. (Thanks Z Nóra for pointing out that Cerca Trova is Italian, and not Latin, as previously stated here.)


Circling the Drain. Healthcare acronym. Technically and originally Close To Death. Transferable to a wide variety of lost causes. (Ack L Russell)


Computer User Non-Technical. Outrageous of course. Apparently from the IT services community, see also DISFOB and PEBCAK. Alternatively, Can't Understand New Technology, or Can't Utilise Normal Thinking. (Ack JB and CL)


Compulsive Use Of Acronyms. Not guilty....... There is the true story of the meeting that took place in a particular government office to discuss the effects of EMU. Some considerable time into the meeting it was discovered that half of the participants thought they were there to discuss the European Monetary Union, while the other half were thinking about Environmental Monitoring and Utilisation. (With thanks to Kevin Thomas.)


Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results. The principle that the effectiveness of advertising can only be measured if the aims of the advertising are clearly specified before it takes place.


Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport. Sardonic reverse acronym at the Delta airline's expense. I'm sure they are every bit as punctual as all the other airlines. (Ack M Navaroli) See several other interpretations of the DELTA acronym in the  airlines and aviation backronyms list.


Director's Further Instructions/Different Flipping Idea. (Polite version). This wonderfully flexible and expressive term (thanks N Purcell) is commonly used in the film and TV industry when a change of plan occurs, typically after considerable (and now wasted) effort by the crew to achieve the original plan. In fact this frustrating and time-wasting shift in executive direction occurs very widely in all areas of management and leadership, including at the very highest level. The alternative interpretation of meaning - Different Flipping Idea - is the understandably sarcastic response from the teams, subordinates and victims of whimsical unthinking leaders, the world over. The original meaning 'Director's Further Instructions' conceivably dates from the 1930s golden age of film making when Directors of Photography (DoPs) wore white lab coats and Heads of Departments (HoDs) were always referred to as 'Sir'. Most film/TV technicians today are more familiar with the second ironic meaning of this acronym, perhaps reflecting an increasing tendency of mind changing among modern directors. The lesson of DFI teaches us the importance of good quality planning, consistent project management and communications, towards a properly considered aim. When leaders change their minds (methods and/or aims) half-way through a project it is nearly always the result of poor planning, even though leaders tend to blame changing circumstances and deny any personal failing. The advent of changing circumstances is not an excuse for poor planning. One of the most crucial and often overlooked elements of planning and leadership is to anticipate circumstances. This generally involves some good quality thinking and consultation, and probably some research too. Where the DFI effect arises, this aspect of leadership is almost certainly missing. By way of illustration, a certain ex-leader once said at a certain inquiry into a certain disastrous war: "It wasn't a lack of planning, it was that we discovered a different set of eventualities..." (See leadership tipsleadership theoriesproject management, and business planning.)


Don't Imagine Any Great Employment Opportunities. Not true of course... See the full entry in the corporation backronyms('corporanyms') list. (Thanks JV for correction.)


Dash In A Real Rush, Hurry Or Else Accident. A daft bacronym to remember how to spell one of the most difficult-to-spell words in the English language. The American spelling is diarrhea, which is only marginally easier to remember. The word is very old indeed, from the ancient Greek equivalent diarrhoia, and diarrhein, meaning to flow through, from the Greek words dia (through) and rhein (flow), which incidentally is from the earliest European language roots from which related words like river, run and (the German river) Rhine are ultimately derived. This highly memorable memory device is a fine example of the technique of using bacronym constructions to remember difficult words.

DIF (analysis)

Difficulty, Importance, Frequency. DIF Analysis is a method of assessing performance, prioritising training needs and planning training, based on three perspectives: Difficulty, Importance, and Frequency. The system can be used in different ways, commonly entailing a flow diagram and process of assessing (scoring) each activity according to the three elements, Difficulty, Importance, and Frequency, in that sequence. At a simple level, an activity that scores low on all three scales is obviously low priority; whereas an activity that scores high on all three scales is a high priority. Weighting (significance of each factor relative to the job purpose/aims) is required in order to optimise the usefulness and relevance of the system, especially if applied to a group or organization. Quicker simpler alternatives of prioritising training are the Essential/Desirable (one or the other) grading of activities or job competencies, whereby essential skills take priority over desirable ones; or the use of a matrix of high/low task importance and high/low skill capability, to identify priority training on the basis that there is a high need (low skill capability) in an important task or competency. DIF Analysis has roots in military training, where traditionally training and development tended to be oriented according to task effectiveness and organizational efficiency, rather than driven by individual personal development needs.


Do I Know What I Am Doing? Useful reminder to check readiness before starting anything which might cause problems if under-prepared. See also IKWIAD.


Double Income Little Dog Owners/Dual Income Little Dogs Only. This wonderful funny and illustrative demographic acronym (thanks A de Rooy) is relatively recent, perhaps 21st century, although the lifestyle itself has been evident among couples in the western world for ages. By implication having little dogs and no kids is not a genetic or hereditary tendency. This amusing demographic profile - plenty of money and no dependents other than a little dog or two - contrasts sharply with the millions of Generation-Y young people in relatively low-paid work facing a difficult and economically challenging future - far more challenging than is faced by established professionals already on the property and career ladders, and especially such people with double income and little dogs only. Please note that the word dildo otherwise refers to an artificial penis and so could cause offence if used in sensitive situations. See Generation-X, Y, Baby-Boomers, etc - and separately see the fascinating dildo word origins.


Does It Look Like I Give A Flying Fig/Do I Look Like I Give A Damn? The use of the word 'Fig' is a polite substitution. Alternatively DILLIGAF omits the 'Flying' element. Interpretation is also commonly altered to Do I Look Like I Give A Fig/Damn? There are also various alternative end words which are usually rude. This rather insulting and disrepectful expression is mainly used in dismissively emphasising a lack of time or concern for a particular issue, especially in response to a request or appeal from a co-worker, or when potential negative implications of an action or decision are described. DILLIGAFF/DILLIGAD expresses a personal disdain which could result from pure apathy, or more excusably from stress and pressure produced by more important/urgent responsibilities and priorities, hence the acronym's use in the healthcare industry, and other sectors where demand exceeds available resources and time. DILLIGAFF expresses the opposite of empathy, and can also be used in training to illustrate the 'apathetic worker' syndrome, created from an imbalanced psychological contract. (Thanks N Roney, S Didlick, A Burger and the many others.)


Don't Interrupt Me While I'm Talking. I rarely publish newly created acronyms in this listing, but this one is so good I had to include it. This was created and sent to me by writer Sandra McCarthy, thanks. An alternative interpretation (thanks P Myers) is Dual Income Mortgage We're In Trouble.


Do It Now. See JFDI.... For procrastinators everywhere. As the famous quote says: 'We all know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over..' (Aneurin Bevan).


Description Is Not Analysis. Simple yet profoundly useful acronym for anyone involved in helping others to think and interpret rather than simply paraphrase or describe. Commonly used by teachers when encouraging students to be more creative in answering questions. Readily transfers to corporate training and evaluation, business report writing, strategic planning, etc. (Ack Leena Cohen)


Double Income No Kids/Yet. The only people these days who can remotely afford to buy a few bricks of and a couple of fence panels towards their first house. The Y for 'yet' was a later addition based on the pluralised DINKIES version of the base DINK expression.


Digital Interface is a Shit FOr Brains. Tenuously and amusingly constructed, and an obviously insulting term, allegedly used by certain members of the computer technical support community to describe an inept user. The loose construction of the acronym - which technically should be the very unmemorable DIIASFB - probably owes much to it bringing to mind the word 'dysfuntional'. Appalling of course. (Ack GJ) See also the ID 10 T code, PEBCAK, PICNIC, DISFOB, BDU, ESO, EBCAD and UBAD.


Dual Income, Two CHildren, Expanding Debts. An amusingly inventive adaptation and extension (devised by Richard Burn-Smith, thanks) of the famous DINKY demographic acronym. Accommodates a slightly larger family; Dual Income, Three CHildren, Expanding Debts. Theoretically also ten, twelve, thirteen, twenty or thirty children...


Define opportunity, Measure performance, Analyse opportunity, Improve performance, Control performance. The Six Sigma process improvement model, used by Six Sigma project teams, as defined by Motorola Inc. An acronym - or strictly an abbreviation - from the 1980s. One would have expected that such an all-conquering management movement, as Six Sigma seems now to be, could have come up with a more memorable mnemonic...



Deoxyribonucleic Acid, represented by the famous double helix, and the Human Genome Project which successfully mapped human DNA in 2003. DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) was first identified in salmon sperm by Friedrich Miescher in 1869, and was generally accepted to carry genetic code of all living things following the published work of Crick and Watson in 1953. A mischievous alternative interpretation to the usual meaning of DNA is National Dyslexia Association, which is of course cruel if used as such, but does offer the opportunity to explain a little about Dyslexia, which is widely misunderstood. As regards the word Dyslexia, its meaning, 'difficulty with words' is derived from Greek (lexis is Greek for speech), and that's what it means - difficulty with words, notably spelling and reading - it does not mean that the person is daft or stupid, in fact often the opposite is closer to the truth. Dyslexia is often called a gift, since for many 'sufferers' that's what it is. Interestingly as many as 10% of people at work are thought could suffer with this disability to one extent or another (source: British Dyslexia Association - not the National Dyslexia Association, which is a made-up organisation to fit the acronym). Two important points about dyslexia: Dyslexia is technically a disability as well as a 'gift', so employers quite rightly have to make appropriate allowances for sufferers or risk falling foul of disability and discrimination laws. An innocently intended workplace joke or email, like the outrageously non-pc "Dyslexics of the world - Untie!" (thanks L Scott..) would be grounds for a disability discrimination claim, or perhaps even a bullying tribunal, so be careful. Secondly and more positively, dyslexia sufferers tend to have special strengths resulting from the way their brains work, notably in problem-solving, innovation, creativity, trouble-shooting, entrepreneurialism, intuitive feelings and judgements, sport, politics, and artistic expression of various sorts. Famous dyslexics include Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, David Bailey, General George Patton, Robin Williams, John Lennon, Nigel Kennedy, Cher, Muhammad Ali, Steve Redgrave, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, John F Kennedy, Richard Branson, Henry Ford, William Hewlett, Charles Schwab, Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves, Erin Brockovich - see, it's a gift. This aspect of alternative strengths relates to multiple intelligence theory, which like the whole area of individuality, is much neglected in education and work. Employers, teachers, and individuals seeking more information about dyslexia should visit the BDA website. Finally, and nothing to do with Dyslexia, DNA might alternatively be employed (thanks S McCarthy) to mean Do Not Ask, which aside from other purposes is a witty response for anyone seeking the full scientific explanation.


Day Off, Not Flipping Interested. Polite version. Most commonly used by off-duty staff of amenities such as hotels, swimming pools, holiday camps, bars, etc., towards fellow staff to signify their non-availability while using the facilities. (Ack R Banham)


Dignity and Respect At Work. Acronym mnemonic for workplace culture, attitude, behaviour, values, etc. (Ack M Andrews)



Dedication, Responsibility, Education, Attitude, Motivation. The DREAM acronym (technically a bacronym) has featured notably on rubber wrist bands, and is linked with Kevin Carroll, former NBA trainer, motivational speaker and author. According to Steve Wulf, an executive editor of ESPN's The Magazine (Oct 2005), "... Carroll, working at Nike at the time, noticed that clear DREAM bands were being put as giveaways in boxes of Kevin Garnett shoes..... Carroll asked if he could use them in the motivational talks he gave at schools and camps. Part of his spiel, in fact, had to do with the acronym DREAM: 'Dedication, Responsibility, Education, Attitude, Motivation.' Pretty soon, Carroll was handing them out by the thousands..." Also according to Wulf, the wristband penomenon can be traced back to the 1960s, when it was "just a series of rubber bands that urban basketball players put on their wrists as both a fashion statement and a shooting aid.... every athlete was wearing elastic cloth-covered wristbands.... But it wasn't until 2001 that the fashion statement took on some meaning.. " The DREAM acronym is now a well-established maxim for personal development and aspiring to be better. See also the NIGHTMARE acronym, which can be used alongside DREAM, to explore various fundamental attitudes, central to achievment and fulfilment, which are generally matters of personal choice and so can be altered at will given suitable enlightenment and purpose.


Don't Read If Busy. Only the email generation could have developed the need for such an acronym. (Apparently, I am informed, DRIB was devised in 1994/5 by Lorilyn Bailey, who contacted me to inform me of this; and indeed the original context was apparently the efficient management of email communications.)


Define, Review, Identify, Verify, Execute. Influential and useful acronym within the Quality Management field.


Documents, Records, Interviews, Visuals, Evaluation, Review. For checking or auditing a control process, especially for vehicles and maintenance systems (thanks J Hadler). In detail: Documents - check documentation is correct; Records - check procedures are recorded; Interviews - check staff understand and are committed to the system; Visuals - visually double-check that the system has not missed anything (records and interviews do not guarantee everything is covered); Evaluation - has the system worked properly?; Review - periodically involve all - especially staff - to identify system improvements.


Digital Rights Management. DRM might seem one of the most boring abbreviations in this list, but Digital Rights Management is a hugely far-reaching issue. Digital Rights Management is basically the means by which intellectual property (IP) is protected and its usage is controlled. This particularly applies to intellectual property of the digital age: music, film, news, and arguably more significantly: information, software, and technology. The implications of Digital Rights Management extend ultimately to the way that knowledge and created works of all sorts are spread and made available around the world, the process of which of course contributes to the development of human civilisation. The 'web 2.0' age of the internet (community-generated content and technology provision and sharing) is now challenging how we all think and behave towards intellectual property. The internet offers unprecedented opportunities for sharing knowledge and extending access to created works of all sorts, whereas many IP owners and exploiters have an entirely different priority, namely profit. The transference of knowledge and technology among people around the world, and from one generation to the next, is what determines human progress. And yet typical corporate interpretations of DRM essentially seek to frustrate this process. Where DRM is restrictive and greedy, so knowledge and human advancement are suppressed. Where DRM is open and giving, so knowledge and advancement are expansive. The begs certain questions of IP owners and also of those who might challenge their behaviour and motives. For example, to what extent can people and organisations who have already made vast fortunes from their intellectual property be a little more willing to share for free? Could multi-billionaires start helping the world earlier, before accumulating such an incomprehensible level of personal wealth? Does accumulating money and power and corporate success make people mean and greedy, or are they mean and greedy to start with, and that's what makes them so effective at protecting and exploiting what they create? What is most important: making a ton of money, or making the most of what you can offer the world? These and other unfathomable questions will not be answered here and now, but in the way future generations look back on it all. And anyway, will anyone actually want to pay money for Cliff Richard's music in 80 years time?..


Dead Right There. (ODSA) Doctors and nurses shorthand acronym for a patient found dead at the scene.


Dead Right There, There, There, and There. (ODSA) Nurses and doctors abbreviation, as DRT above, but used for pedestrian-train incidents. This outrageous acronym is an example of the human species' tendency to use humour when dealing with horrific trauma.


Dead Right There And Going To Stay That Way. Extended version of DRT used by certain US police and fire-rescue personnel in incidents involving catastrophic injuries. (Ack J Attison)


Danger To Shipping. Another healthcare coded shorthand term for particularly obese patients, very transferable (and equally insulting) to anyone who ate all the pies. Use with great care, in fact best not use it at all. (thanks D Chadwick)


Defer Until The Christmas Holiday Is Ended. Seasonal acronym explaining why most business comes to a grinding stop for two whole weeks at the end of the year. See also LUCID.


Ear To Ear Grin. A reference to a person feeling and/or showing considerable satisfaction or amusement. A slightly more sophisticated or understated alternative to LOL (Laughing Out Loud).


Errors and Omissions Excepted. Shorthand disclaimer notice, used as a rider at the bottom of invoices and other documents with potentially legal and contractual implications. Effectively means that no liability is accepted for mistakes and omissions. (Ack N Whiteley)


Error Between Chair and Desk. ITC helpdesk shorthand, but of course not necessarily restricted to IT applications. EBCAD (Thanks P Bretnall) is a lovely variation on PEBCAK, and actually is far more widely useable since it better defines the human element (carelessness, ruthlessness, greed, laziness, etc) typically found to be at fault when things go tits up. Even the great noughties Credit Crunch and the beginning of the end of the free market economy as we once knew it can ultimately be distilled to a single simple common EBCAD error, albeit replicated across the most significant executive offices of the financial and regulatory world. See also  PICNIC.


Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. One of a series of esoteric 'EB' (Earnings Before..) financial acronyms, eg, EBT = Earnings Before Taxes; EBIAT = Earnings Before Interest after Taxes; EBIT = Earnings Before Interest and Taxes; EBITD = Earnings Before Interest, Taxes and Depreciation; and the completely unrelated EBRD = European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. (Earnings are profits from operating and non-operating activities.) More financial terms and definitions on the financial terms and acronyms section.


Elated Darling, I'm Near, Book Usual Room, Grand Hotel. Lovers code from way back. You see, people have been using social and flirting short-hand for generations - before texting was ever imagined, see also SWALK, NORWICH, etc.


Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, Practice. This is such a brilliant simple teaching and learning model. Apparently (thanks G Webber) EDIP is used in explaining teaching methods to trainee instructors at the UK Fire Service College. It's applicable just about everywhere else too.


Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale. Retail acronym (thanks L Starkey). This is an extension of earlier EPOS (Electronic Point Of Sale) technoloogy which was initially concerned with stock management. Modern point of sale systems allow payment by electronic credit or debit method via connection to a central banking agency. It is now frighteningly easy to buy things, and this ease progressively increases. In fact the efficiency of the technology will inevitably and literally (with the replacement of PIN codes by iris recognition) turn the moment of purchase into a mere blink of the eye.


Eager To Grab Your Pretty Toes/Tits/Testicles. Non-pc armed forces acronym code used in letters to sweethearts at home, as other examples NORWICH, SWALK, HOLLAND, BURMA, CHIP, etc. (Ack R Tickner)


Evaluate, Plan, Action, Check, Amend. And so on.... The helix of continuous improvement.


Electronic Point Of Sale. The retail industry term for auto-readers - normally of bar-codes - at store checkout tills. EPOS caused a retail revolution, enabling massive advantages for retailers and sellers, including automated stock control and re-ordering, sales tracking, market research, staff de-skilling, customer service, customer spending profiling and loyalty card systems. Sometimes referred to as EPS. See also EFTPOS.


Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatoscopy/Pancreatography. A technical medical acronym. A way of examining the bile ducts/gall bladder and pancreatic ducts using an endoscope. However, the acronym is sometimes reinterpreted by healthcare administrators as follows: (apparently) if a newly admitted patient dies suddenly before having been examined ('clerked') by the ward doctor, then the 'admission' notes - which should have been written/recorded on the patient's admisssion - might instead be written up post-mortem (after death, obviously after they should have been, in other words), in which case the acronym takes on a more mischievous interpretation: Emergency Retrograde Clerking of Patient. (ack ET)


Emotional Reaction Impedes Control. Acronym version of the rule of 'counting to ten' to avert feelings of rage or distress. It is certainly true and generally forgotten in the heat of an argument or other stressful situation, that becoming overly emotional is rarely helpful, and usually damaging to all concerned. The theory and learning relating to Transactional Analysis is especially useful in understanding what causes emotional reactions and how to manage these feelings when you feel them rising up. Here is an ERIC poster pdf version of this fine maxim. (Thanks George Chamberlain, who in all likelihood originated this excellent mnemonic and aid to self-improvement around 1975. Incidentally the cartoon is from that time, and was drawn for George by Colin Howard.)



Equipment Superior to Operator. Coded acronym written on a work-order by a technician that means 'There's nothing wrong with this equipment - the problem is the owner.' See also PEBCAK, BDU, PICNIC, UBAD. (ack PM Christian)


Everything To Attract Men. It was suggested to me a while ago that this is the origin of the ladies fashionwear chain name. It isn't, but it's an amusing acronym all the same. I am grateful to Alain Xhignesse for explaining that ETAM in fact derived from the company name ETAblissements Mayer, which in 1916 created the first ETAM store - a hosiery boutique in Germany - which later grew into the famous ETAM chain.


Too Flipping Clever by Half. Polite version. One of the more creative acronyms. Alternatively shown as 2FC over 2, as illustrated right. Various uses for self or for others, to warn against complacency, arrogance, over-engineered solutions, pride comes before a fall, etc. (Ack S Bignall) See 2BC/2.

too flipping clever by half


Flip If I Know. Polite version. The mysterious 'F Eleven K' code has been appearing on technical query reports for many years. (Ack DR) See also the 'ID 10 T' code.


Features, Advantages, Benefits. A widely used selling techniques acronym within the traditional selling process and related sales training. People are more interested in what improvements a product or service will bring rather than a description of what is being sold. While modern sales methods have eclipsed the significance of the FAB principle, the fact remains: it's more important to focus on what a proposition will do for the listener, beyond merely what the proposition is.


Fecal Air Rectally Transmitted. Daft and amusing restrospectively devised acronym, so it's technically a 'backronym'. The word fart in fact is derived from Old High German 'ferzan' (pronounced fertsan) from older Germanic roots 'fertan', both of which are clearly onomatopoeic (sounds like what it is), as is the modern-day word, unchanged in English since the 1200s. Words and language might change over time, but the sound of a fart is one of life's more enduring features.


Fat And Stupid. Healthcare coded patient notes acronym. Use with caution, although safely describes those 4 inch thick system manuals, written by experts, which don't actually explain anything about how to use the system. (Thanks S Fox). Also means Feasibility Analysis Study, which is rather less contentious.


Face, Arms, Speech, Time. A first-aid acronym for the urgent recognition of, and response to, someone suffering a stroke, specifically: A lop-sided or distorted facial expression, inability to raise arms, and slurred  speech are strong and immediate indicators of a stroke, whereupon the time taken to administer serious emergency medical attention is crucial for survival and subsequent optimal recovery. The acronym FAST also cleverly emphasizes the need for urgency in checking the signs and reacting.


Final Acceptance Testing. Marketing or product development technical term, (ack. Don Clark). Crucial stage often overlooked by egocentric owner-managers and corporate chieftains, expensive designers and advertising agencies, politicians and government project commissioners, etc., who become seduced by their own magnificence, and make disastrous assumptions on behalf ordinary people who then decide not to buy/vote/turn up, etc. FAT also may stand for Factory Acceptance Test, for example in the quality control of contracted manufacturing facility, (thanks DC).


Failing Better Offer. A caviat for many occasions - business negotiating, social diaries, time management and planning, quality management, percentage management - a great alternative to simply saying maybe or perhaps, or yes, when you really mean FBO. (Ack. Ben Ball)


Fur Coat No Knickers. And with similar meanings, see also BHNC and AMAT. (Ack M Price)


Fall Down Go Boom. Hospital accident and emergency notes acronym often referring to a patient's injuries caused by alcohol abuse. (Thanks B Villona) See also PAFO.



Forget Everything And Run. Polite version. One of the best reverse acronyms (bacronym/backronym is the modern term) ever devised (thanks A Davice). The acronym explains what happens when the fear response takes over, and the primative brain switches to auto-pilot. Great for presentations training and 'training the trainer', to emphasise why nobody ever does anything really well under extreme stress except shut down. There are fruitier interpretations of the word Forget of course. An alternative acronym meaning which addresses the point that fear is 'all in the mind', and therefore not to feel so threatened by it, was popularised by Zig Ziglar: False Evidence Appearing Real. See the domino trick for a demonstration of false evidence. Additionally I am informed (thanks C Lane, who originated the following clever alternative) of another excellent interpretation of the FEAR acronym, for use especially in teaching public speaking and presentation skills, where one's natural FEAR response can be seen instead in terms of nervousness benefits: Focused Energized Alert Ready. Incidental to the notion of fear and pressure affecting performance, the funny Weakest Link answers and also the amusing Family Fortunes answers provide wonderful examples of how pressure is sometimes a major factor in human error.

FFFF (or the 4F's)

Find 'em, Feel 'em, Fondle'em, and Forget 'em. Polite version. This expression is in this listing for historical reference only and is not recommended for use anywhere. The Four F's probably originated and certainly came to prominence in the British Armed Forces, WWII. In its day the expression was of course gender specific but now in this age of gender equality is not necessarily so. (Ack G Day)



Forget It and Drive On. An acronym made popular by motivational writer and speaker Zig Ziglar. Dwelling on past disappointments or seeking revenge is self-destructive. It's far better to concentrate effort on the next challenge. See also SUMO and BUFFS.


Fart In A Trance. Every organization has a person who seems to be perpetually in FIAT mode. Most of us experience being in this state at least a couple of times a week, especially Mondays after heavy weekend, or while captive in corporate presentations or boring training sessions. Alternative to MEGO. (Ack Tony Lomas)


First In First Out. Originally an accounting term, to provide a convention for writing down the balance sheet value of assets of the same type. Applies to any situation where the oldest go first and the newest stay longest, but a perilous policy in terms of staff. See ageism. More controversially (ack GR) FIFO describes the uncaring autocratic culture of certain employers - Fit In or F Off.


First In Last Out. Again originally an accounting term for depreciation practice, whereby the oldest assets are the last to be written off. The term has wider applications, particularly rock festival car parks, overcrowded tube trains and airport buses.


Failed In London, Try Hong-Kong. Before handover of Hong-Kong by the UK to China in 1999, this acronym sardonically reflected the treatment by certain multi-national employers of under-performing or out-of-favour staff. (Ack JW)


Flip I’m Good, Just Ask Me. Polite version. Superb acronym, with Australian origins apparently, for show-offs and big-heads everywhere. Ideal code for referring to person or behaviour when someone holds a very high opinion of themselves, through self-delusion, arrogance, or because they happen to be held in unreasonably high esteem by a superior. '...he's full of FIGJAM...' (Ack NB)


French, Italian, German, Spanish. Shorthand used by some in considering or targeting the traditional four main languages of the European market and the demographics and communications variations required to address it.


Fanatical, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. Alternative ironic acronym response (thanks D Jenkins) to the universal question, "How are you?.." Perhaps more widely applicable is the version (thanks Dr P Cooper): Fed-up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. FINE is also interpreted to mean (thanks K Freeman) as a comment on someone else's mood: Feelings Inside Not Expressed, notably in the context of attitude, communications, coaching, life-change, etc. People commonly respond to the question, "How are you?" by saying "Fine," when they perhaps are anything but fine. Alternatively, ruder, and toned-down accordingly (thanks W O'Leary) - Flipping Incapable of Normal Emotion.


Find Inform Restrict Extinguish. One of those wonderful acronyms in which the new word actually relates to the subject; this one for student fire-fighters, and anybody else for that matter, since it represents the essential rules and process of dealing with fires. (Ack JH)


Forget It, Stuff Happens. This is the polite version of Feck It, Shite Happens, and its more obvious variant. Like FIDO(Forget it and Drive On), this is a wonderful maxim for picking yourself up after a disappointment, and getting on with the job, or life in general. FISH is more obscurely interpreted to mean First In Stays Here, which is a stock-control expression, similar to FIST (thanks A Chapman, no relation) also, Flip! I'm Staying Here, the polite version of a ruder Royal Navy expression, and no doubt said elsewhere too at times of pressure or threat (thanks P Burns).


Fighting In Someone's House & Causing Havoc In People's Streets. Army infantry acronym for urban warfare.


First In Stays There. Financial and stock-holding term, describing the practice of not rotating the stock, so that the first pieces of stock stay in stock and 'on the books' for ever. (Ack J Taylor)


Fecked In The Head. Marginally more polite version than the common form. One of many no-nonsense nurses' acronyms to describe a patient's condition in terms that fall some way short of being politically correct. (Ack Charli)


Four Letter Acronym. Arguable contradiction in terms, and companion acronym for TLA. See also UTLA and UFLA.


Funny Looking Kid. (ODSA). Used by medical and healthcare folk to describe an infant or newborn whose looks are unlikely to provide a passport to fame and fortune. Perhaps (aside from dark humour at work) this is a manifestation of some sort of envy, given that 'funny looking kids' often grow to be some of the loveliest people you could ever wish to meet. Where we fear and ridicule funny looking people, deep down perhaps we see in them a strength and resolve that normal looking folk don't possess, because we've never had to. (Ever read Mary Shelly's Frankenstein?...)


Funny Looking Kid, Funny Looking Parents. Healthcare acronym. See above. (Ack S Pennington)


First Lady OF The United States. Acronym for the president's wife, used by Whitehouse staff according to Richard Clarke, in preference to the more obvious and widely referenced FLOTUS. It's a mystery why the F is employed - perhaps FLOTUS means something else as well? Answers on a postcard please... First suggestion (ack Kit Watson): "I can think of a reason why they use 'FLOFTUS' and not 'FLOTUS'. Flotus is very close to the word 'Flatus', which refers to the gas passed in flatulence..."


Fat Little Ugly Fellow. Polite version. Normally the word 'fellow' would be substituted. For a short boss with Napoleonic syndrome. (Ack D Harrison)



Fast Moving Consumer Goods. An acronym that lots of people have heard and don't know what it means. FMCG typically describes products (and the entire industry behind these products) that supermarkets and other big stores, and increasingly online retailers, sell in big volumes, at relatively low profit margins, to domestic consumers. FMCG traditionally referred to foods and groceries, household consumables, small electricals, inexpensive toys and games, but the abbreviation extends more recently in this worryingly increasingly disposable age to clothes, books, kitchenware, fabrics and textiles, even furniture, and before long no doubt, to phones, TVs, computers, and all sorts of other products which people buy and consume, or discard very quickly, often because the product has broken or become obsolete, or is no longer compatible.


Flipping Nearly Died. Polite version of healthcare term, transferrable to descriptions of any traumatic aftermath, eg, sales conferences involving overnight stays and obliging night porters; excessive outward bound courses; car journeys with the firm's worst driver, etc. (Ack. A Carr)


Flipping New Guy. Polite version. Increasingly common acronym for the new recruit, especially in certain institutional environments (armed forces, police, etc) where new people stick out more prominently than the seasoned staff. Less relevant in organisations with a quicker staff turnover where the majority of the workforce can be FNG's. Alternatively expressed (ack T Birt) as a made-up word based on the phonetic quality of the FNG acronym: 'Fnoogy'.


First Of A Kind. An acronym to illustrate the development or attainment of uniqueness, relevant to developing sales and business propositions, USP's and value-added offerings. (Ack PL) See also GOAT.


Free On Board/Fresh Off the Boat. FOB is an import/export term relating to the point (outgoing port or airport usually) at which responsibility for goods, insurance, and costs of transport, passes from seller (exporter) to buyer (importer). The FOB expression originates from the meaning that the buyer is free of liability up to the point that the goods are loaded on board the ship. In recent years FOB is used less specifically, even to the extent that other meanings are inferred from the acronym, most commonly Freight On Board (which appears in many online dictionaries and acronyms listings), and I've also heard of Fixed On Board. These distortions reflect the fact that the FOB principle is not readily recognised or understood as the Free On Board original (and quite old) meaning. When language doesn't make obvious sense people are apt to change it. If you use or hear the term used in a shipping context it's sensible to clarify precise meaning. More explanation about FOB in the financial terms section. Aside from the shipping usage, FOB is a slang and derogatory expression Fresh Off the Boat, (thanks Clint S) referring, usually insultingly, to a newly arrived person or group lacking in local experience/knowledge, which alludes strongly to the notion of immigrants coming by sea into a new country.


Frequently Outwitted By Inanimate Objects. Ideal for anyone struggling with one of those ridiculous picnic tables, flat-pack self-assembly furniture, crisis situations caused by errant cars, computers, mobile phones, and the ultimate FOBIO challenge - removing the cellophane from a new CD.


Free Of Charge. Widely used acronym promising a good deal, however see TANSTAAFL.


Futuristic Observation Creates Unique Solutions (Enabling Development). Training and presentations acronym to emphasise that vision is essential for creating unique solutions and development. (Ack PL)


Feck Off and Find Out. Regrettably there is no easy polite alternative to the F Off term. I'm doing my best to tread a narrow line without resorting to those silly ****s all over the place. One of the great training and management acronyms, it emphasises the opportunity or requirement for people to find answers themselves rather than be spoon-fed, which achieves little. Generally the process of development is much strengthened using FOFO principles wherever possible. Nevertheless, use it with care and with humour - see the Transactional Analysis guidelines on keeping communications adult-to-adult. If in doubt use GAAFOFY instead (see GAAFOFY). See also WIOFYFS. (FOFO: Ack. Neal Stothard)


Fall On Out-Stretched Hand. Medical acronym describing cause of injury to hand, wrist, etc. (Thanks B Villona)


Focus On Reducing Costs Everywhere. From USA industry. An acronym that can be applied anywhere. Perhaps not the most progressive strategy ever invented, but sometimes necessary and helpful, provided the cost-cutting does not prevent activities that would otherwise bring good and fast returns on investment, and also provided that the long-term well-being of operations and people are not sacrificed. (Ack P Lock)


Found On Roadside, Dead. Apt and amusing acronym (backronym actually) to describe a project, idea, etc., not worth bothering with, due to high probabilty of ultimate failure. A quick explanation for not pursuing the non-viable. An excellent reminder of the need to invest one's time productively. (Ack D Compton) Alternatively, in relation to the car make, Found On Rubbish Dump. (Ack T Day). Alterntively and amusingly: Fix Or Repair Daily (Ack AJ), or arguably a more grammatically correct expression Fix Or Replace Daily (Ack SM). Then there is Flip Over, Read Directions, also First On Race Day, and how about For Outstanding Reliability and Dependability... (ack PL) See further automotive acronyms.


Fornicates Regularly And Chain Smokes. (ODSA) The polite version is arguably better than the rude one. Nurses and doctors acronym for covert patients notes. (Ack L Speden)


Flipping Ridiculous Electronic Device. Polite version. An increasingly popular acronym that many people now use to describe a computer or other gadget causing frustration or technical difficulty for the user.


Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition. Polie version. Sister acronym to FUBB below, dating from way back and like FUBB popularised by American forces in the 2nd World War. The more polite version is commonly altered to Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition. (Thanks M Cook) FUBAR is now particularly used in the IT industry and healthcare sectors, for example (it is alleged) to describe a patient with specialised needs who has been treated by non-specialist doctors, and for whom now it is impossible to tell what signs/symptoms are due to the disease and what are to the inappropriate treatment. The expression is sometimes combined with BUNDY, ie., FUBAR-BUNDY = a FUBAR, for whom it is now too late for effective treatment. See also related terms such as SNAFU and  VSF, etc. (Ack E Thomas and the many others)


Fouled Up Beyond Belief. Polite version. An old acronym that is just as useful today as when first devised. Probably originated in the 2nd World War.


Finest Universal Cleaner Known/Fornication Under Consent of the King/For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. First, let's deal with the 'Finest Universal Cleaner Known' bacronym. Apparently this was initially a Royal Navy acronym (bacronym) to describe 'elbow grease' and a reminder that physical effort generally produces the best results of all, irrespective of modern technology. The meaning behind this wonderful acronym is supported by the following story (thanks N Spargo): Apparently just before the Second World War, the British armed forces adopted new webbing, (the belt and harness to carry ammunition, water bottle, bayonet, etc). The new webbing was made of heavy canvas (khaki for the Army, blue-grey for the Air Force, white for the Navy), with numerous brass buckles and strap tabs. Of course the webbing had to be kept clean and bright, for which sailors were issued Blanco (whitening) and Brasso (brass polish). Early examples of the new webbing were particularly difficult to clean, whereupon official instruction from the old Chief Petty Officers was to use plenty of 'elbow grease', given that this was the 'Finest Universal Cleaner Known'. The sailors soon recognised the significance of the initials and developed a typical piece of folk wisdom: "If Blanco don't whiten it and Brasso don't brighten it then FUCK it.." See also BUGGER. Separately FUCK has been interpreted as a bacronym with the meaning Fornication Under Consent of the King, and separately (thanks B Murray) also For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, around both of which various stories assert that these expressions are the roots of the word itself, although sadly, none is true. See the fuck entry in the words and cliches page.


Failed Under Continuous Testing. In other words, broken. One of the all-time great acronyms, and nothing rude about it at all, surely. Used especially by technical people in the entertainment industry and deserves usage and recognition on a global scale. Also expands to FUCT UP (Failed Under Continuous Testing Under Pressure). Arguably both are reverse acronyms, however you can't argue with them being very funny and elegantly succinct. In addition to the acronym itself, a particularly amusing example of usage was sent to me (thanks P Giles): 'F U C T U P' written one letter each across the six broken channels of a lighting control desk.


Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Acronym from the marketing world, in which propositions leveraged by FUD create additional motivation for the target audience to buy or act - for example Y2K computer scare stories, various types of insurance, extended warranties and guarantees, security and surveillance offerings; typically most preventative products and services. (Thanks M Adamson)


Foul Up, Got Ambushed, Zipped In. Polite version. Seemingly the FUGAZI acronym was first coined by US troops in Vietnam. FUGAZI is potentially transferable to other disasters resulting from poor preparation and over-confidence, eg., training sessions which turn into mutinies and customer meetings which force the supplier to give away massive concessions. FUGAZI was a Marillion album title (they knew what it meant) apparently, and is also a band (who didn't know what it meant - apparently). See also P6, etc. (Ack M Andrews)


Feck You Jack I'm Alright. Marginally polite version. A fruity old acronym that's not a precise abbreviation, instead partly a clever phonetic structure in which the 'IYAM' element equates to the words I am, or 'I'm. The expression is from the rank and file soldiers of the 2nd World War, notably and almost certainly originating in the Pacific war zones. Interestingly this acronym also provided the origin of the more recent expression and humourous boast, at the expense of a lumbered mate: 'I'm alright Jack', which of course means the same as the full orignal FUJIYAMA version.


Go Away And Find Out For Yourself. Now this one looks like it's going to be packed full of swear words, but strangely it's not. A motto for self-reliance and taking personal responsibility. The quest for empowered people in organisations cuts both ways - the organisation needs to give people more freedom, and people need to take responsibility for finding their own answers and solutions. Managers of course need to support the process of achieving all this (see delegation and  Tannenbaum & Schmidt). GAAFOFY is also a super acronym for daft questions received in a training, teaching and coaching context. It's a reminder that we all need to seek our own answers rather than rely on 'received wisdom' or someone else's solution that might well be overdue for improvement. See also WIOFYFS. For a free GAAFOFY colour poster see the free businessballs posterspage.


Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. To non-accountants this may seem a contradiction in terms.


General Anti-Avoidance Rule. Pertaining to taxation and the avoidance thereof.


Generally Accepted Auditing Standards. Perhaps only marginally less contradictory than GAAP, but they do exist, honestly.


Generation-Attention Deficit Disorder (Generation-ADD). Amusing if slightly insulting (and ironically, envious) reference to the modern generation of young people who need and can effectively absorb information, learning, entertainment, advertising, etc., much more quickly than older folk. Previous generations (X, Y, Baby-boomers for example) were brought up reading whole books, writing memos, and attending meetings, so their brains tend to be less well-tuned to the dramatically abbreviated communications and speed of life which characterise the blackberryfacespace age. GADD people even have their own language - largely free of vowels, punctuation, capital letters, etc - which older people criticise, but this is exactly how life and society changes. Each successive generation becomes quicker and more efficient at sending and receiving information, and this also extends to entertainment and leisure activities. To older people this faster lifstyle seems like laziness or carelessness, but in fact it is more a reflection of the progressive sharpening of human brainpower. Interestingly, genius minds of any generation have very low spans of attention: a sharp mind grasps a concept extremely quickly, becomes bored very quickly, and naturally seeks alternative stimulus if the present issue starts to drag. Despite what we might read about the worsening standards of education, young people are very sharp indeed. Civilisation advances proportionately to knowledge transfer and human collaboration. Quick brains facilitate this, therefore so-called 'attention deficit disorder' among youngsters is a healthy indication that civilisation continues to progress, which is gr8. See the generational theory model.


Gates Are Down, Lights Are Flashing, Train Ain't Coming. Reference to a person or group exhibiting encouraging signs of understanding and capability, and then failing to act or respond due to some sort of serious and usually permanent malfunction. See also LOBNAHPEARL, MEGO


God Alone Knows. Originally British First World War doctor's shorthand on a traumatised soldier's medical report for shell-shock or other nervous disorder (this prior to any official recognition of nervous condition resulting from months or years active service under fire and bombardment). Nowadays GAK serves as an incredulous reponse to any unfathomable question. See also NYDN.


Group Against Smokers Pollution. Nothing to do with business, but a really great acronym, technically a bacronym.


Going the Extra Mile. GEM is a very memorable, neat and powerful acronym for all sorts of situations relating to effort, quality, commitment, motivation, development, design, creativity, selling, customer service, leading, inspiring, teaching - in fact any activity, responsibility, project or task which benefits from extra thought, enthusiasm and energy, to produce an effect beyond usual expectations or standards. GEM appears in themes and promotional messages for a variety of situations because it's an elegant impactful statement underpinned by a very potent concept - that of always striving to do better - to 'over-deliver' and to exceed expectations, in the (very correct) belief that doing so will produce great outcomes for the giver and receiver; supplier and customer. GEM is especially relevant for beating competition and delighting customers. It's also a wonderful maxim for building self-esteem, integrity, respect, credibility, reputation and positive human relationships. GEM is actually an attitude for life as a whole: if a job is worth doing then it's worth doing in the best way you can. GEM people are noticed and remembered; they become trusted and valued, and accordingly, GEM, simple though it seems, is a wonderful life-code. (Thanks N & N)


Garbage In Garbage Out. Originated as a computer metaphor but deserves a much wider exposure. Use freely for any situation at all that involves effort and output (esp. design, recruitment, purchasing, etc.) Variations include CICO = Crap In Crap Out, and SISO, which you'll be able to work out for yourself. (Ack. GJ)


Good Looking Mum. Healthcare industry shorthand. Less earthy and somewhat more detached than the MILF alternative.


Greying, Leisured, Affluent, Married. Another wonderful demographics acronym.


Garbage Made Carefully. A wonderful example of industrial warfare by acronym (no offence intended). "Lil' som'thing back from the Ford guys...." (Ack S Clory)


Godt Mitt You. (God be with you) The only Anglo-German hybrid abbreviation I know, used today as a sign-off in certain naval communications, notably still among Swedish vessels. Some believe its origin dates from the 2nd World War, when the message was sent between British and German enemy submarines operating in surface mode, when traditionally they would not engage, other than to communicate their mutual respect through this expression. (Ack Robert Stael Von Holstein) Others possible origins are suggested: That GMY was a greeting between German Wolfpack submarines during WWII who used the mixture of German and English words to confuse the allies; it was a traditional greeting between commercial ships; it stems from old unofficial telegraph code; is was an invention of a Swedish naval officer. Apparently the signal GMY is mentioned in "I nationens intresse", a novel by Jan Guillou. A retired WWII navy officer ascribes the origin of the signal to Christer Kierkegaard, who died 1999. There is apparently no mention of GMY in British or German signal books from WWII. (Ack Pieter Kuiper).


Greatest Of All Time. An acronym from the sporting commentators' book of superlatives, and transferable to all. Everyone can be GOAT at what they do and who they are. An alternative and related meaning for GOAT, as referenced by positive thinking writer Douglas Miller, is Goals, Objectives, Aims, Targets. In his excellent book about positive thinking, Miller uses the metaphor of 'herding' your GOAT's to explain the importance of organising personal activities so that they are focused on clear meaningful outputs, and in this respect there is a certain resonance between both GOAT acronym interpretations: decide what you want to be great at and then organise your plans accordingly.


General Body Crumble. (ODSA) Healthcare acronym to describe an elderly person with no specific diagnosis, but just generally deteriorating. (ack ET)


Government Owned, Contractor Operated. An admission by government that they have the expertise to run the country (supposedly) but not anything as practical as a hot-dog stall.


Genial Old Farts Enjoying Retirement. Super demographics acronym, allegedly originally seen on the back of a caravan touring Australia; now much used at retirement parties. Alternative meaning in similar context is Genial Old Fisherman Enjoying Recreation. (Ack LA)


God Only Knows. (ODSA) Apparently a popular healthcare diagnosis from many years ago, used especially on bank holidays/weekends, after midnight or when there was an important football match on TV. After a very quick visit to A&E the junior doctor would diagnose GOK and admit the patient to a ward, often adding LTNWIO (let the nurses work it out). Such patients not infrequently later had an ERCP. (ack ET)


Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden. For chauvinists everywhere. Especially at the golf club. This is a bacronym, not the  origin of the word golf. (Ack C Judd)


Get Out of My Emergency Room. (ODSA) Abbreviation used on ungrateful, unworthy patient's notes; another superb contribution from LA nurses. (Ack KT)


Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans, Activities. A simple blueprint and order of thinking for business planning of any sort, even for large complex challenges and entire businesses. (Thanks Chris Starke)


Get Off Your Arse/Ass. Acronyms are especially appealing when they are also a known word or name (see bacronym), although in this case the Spanish painter Francisco Goya was actually quite prolific and probably needed no such encouragement. Any connection is purely coincidental, as the saying goes. The acronym seems to have originated in the US military. (Thanks M Grasso)


Good for Parts Only. Healthcare acronym. Not the most optimistic diagnosis. Also (thanks J Fobian) used in similar deathly fashion in the automotive industry. Was originally the British General Post Office, and is still the somewhat infrequently used yet rather more exciting Giant Pacific Octopus. Three little letters... yet so many pictures.


Graduate(s) Renting, Employed, No Deposit. Demographics acronym, emerging as an increasingly common social grouping during the first decade of the 2000s, in which each element significantly reflects societal and economics pressures and circumstances of the times, notably that: there are more university graduates than ever; many graduates find work of one sort or another; but the type or work and/or the level of pay rarely enables the possibility to buy a property; and often not even the possibility to save for a rental deposit.


Group, Range, Indication, Type of fire. A military acronym which adapts strongly for marketing and advertising, and any situation where a message or approach is aimed at a target audience/customer group. In the military, the acronym teaches and reminds how to give fire control orders, but the key points relate with a little adaptation to all sorts of engagements with a 'target' audience:

  • Group - identify who will fire (i.e., the gun group - although for non-military situations the word 'gun' more memorably represents the source or medium of the communication)
  • Range - the distance to the target (or for non-military situations, the location/territory of the target audience)
  • Indication - describe the target (or for non-military situations, a profile of the target customer/audience)
  • Type of fire - describe the type of fire to give (or for non-military situations, define the message/communication/advert) (Thanks M Green)


Guardian Reader Of Limited Intelligence, Ethnic Skirt. (ODSA) See FLK and other ODSAs. Use with care if you must use is at all, and whilst not necessarily recommended, there is a potential application for explaining the more technical aspects of customer profiling.


Goals, Reality, Options, Will. A maxim from the life-coaching industry, which makes a lot of sense, and is relevant to any situation that requires realistic objectives to be established, and then the planning and determination to achieve them.


Grotesque, Unbelievable, Bizarre, and Unprecedented. GUBU is a sort of maxim of political and corporate infamy, effectively invented by Charles, J Haughey, Taoiseach of Ireland (Prime Minister) for three separate terms between 1979-92. Charles Haughey became embroiled in several outrageous scandals related to abuse of his position and financial affairs, and when questioned on one occasion prior to his eventual fall from grace he responded that the accusations were "...grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, and unprecedented..." GUBU has since become a popular acronym in Ireland, and it is listed here because the underlying meaning and message is obviously transferable to all sorts of corporate and political so-called leaders, who abuse their power and insult the intelligence and tolerance of ordinary people, and then shamelessly deny their shortcomings and deceit with the GUBU defence. (Ack S Doherty)


Goes When Ready. A 'bacronym' popular in the days of the original Great Western Railway (which makes it over 50 years old - see full entry in corporanyms section) and of course transferable to many situations and people which act when ready and not before. As such GWR is a novel way to describe or present a personality or system which cannot be moved or changed without suitable preparation and patience. GWR people tend to be process and detail oriented. GWR situations tend to be big complex systems or networks (large old organizations and institutions) with lots of entrenched practices and attitudes.


Helping And Leading Others - HALO is an inspirational and very elegant acronym (arguably also a bacronym) for many situations where benevolent/compassionate leadership qualities are called for, for example managing people, teaching and training, counselling, facilitating, parenting, and especially leadership, specifically relating to leadership theories such as 'Servant Leadership'. In the same spirit (please forgive the pun), HALO is interpreted a little cruelly by some to mean Help A Loser Out, in which the motive is decent if the attitude is somewhat patronizing or cynical. This is not to be confused with the term 'Halo Effect', which is not necessarily an indicator of goodness (see also BIRGing). More technically and entirely differently, HALO refers in military and parachuting/skydiving circles (again please forgive the pun) to High Altitude, Low Opening, which means that the parachutist exits the aircraft at very high altitude (typically 15,000ft up to 35,000ft), and skydives most of the way down (very quickly, in other words), opening the parachute late and close to the ground. It's dangerous because of oxygen/breathing, air pressure and temperature risks, but safer than HAHO - High Altitude, High Opening - (used when the noise of parachutes opening close to the ground needs to be avoided) where besides the ordinary risks of high-altitude jumping, the parachutist can be blown by the wind as far as 40 miles away from the intended landing spot. We can liken HAHO - High Altitude, High Opening (and juxtapose it interestingly alongside Helping And Leading Others) - to the difficulties of managing/performing any project/task where premature conclusions and decisions are made arrogantly/ignorantly at a great distance from the situation concerned, which tends to entail very big risks arising from poor information, miscalculations, faulty assumptions, and leads to misguided badly-timed off-target resources/efforts/actions, producing bigger problems, losses, disasters, etc. Obvious examples of HAHO misadventures are military interventions in far away territories, government interference in local services (education, health, policing, etc), and corporate takeovers motivated for the enrichment of the predators.


(This is now in the corporate backronyms 'corporanyms' list)


Height, Airframe, Security, Engine, Location, Lookout. Checklist system popular in private pilot licence training for stall recovery and also used prior to aerobatics.


Human Capital Management. Arguably the same as HRM (Human Resources Management), although many (especially in the HCM field) would disagree, pointing to various 'new' HCM components linked to such terms as 'new economy', but which strictly speaking could be covered simply by a modern view of HRM. As with many labels, differences between HRM and HCM largely depend on your own situation and interpretation. If it suits your context/audience to differentiate between traditional HRM and more open and progressive methods (HCM) for managing people within an organization, then using the HCM title might bertter emphasise the difference or change you are aiming to achieve. If are studying modern HR practices and methods then again you will tend to find such ideas being presented under the HCM heading. But don't be kidded that the label itself changes anything. Good HRM will always be better than crap HCM. The use of a new title doesn't automatically ensure a successful initiative or implementation. On a more specific point, you will see the word 'Reporting' commonly appended to the Human Capital term, which indicates the additional emphasis on analysis and accountability that perhaps most distinguishes HCM from the traditional HRM in practice, although there is nothing to prevent well run Human Resources activities enabling and generating just the same reporting needs and outputs. What these things are called is not the issue - it's what actually goes on that matters. Cynics would say that HCM is not so much a different field, it's more a different way to sell more services, books, training, and the like. The HCM term has arisen in recent years, as new buzzwords and abbreviations tend to, when sufficient people embrace the idea that a new approach is warranted or opportune, in which case a new brand or packaging usually happens. How long the HCM expression lasts, and the notion that it is very different really from modern Human Resources Management, remains to be seen. As ever, it's not the label, but the precise definition and practice that counts. That said, if anyone would like to suggest any aspect of HCM that is not possible under HRM, please feel free, and I'll gladly publish the comments, or better still put together some sort of matrix by which the two terms can usefully be compared.


High Earning Worker. Demographic acronym, representing the UK's 534,000 people who earn more than £100,000 per household and yet regard themselves as 'working class', according to the Future Foundation (May 2006).



Honesty, Integrity, Plain-dealing. This little acronym is a useful teaching item about management and business ethics, probity, corporate governance, and leadership, etc.. The three principles of Honesty, Integrity, and Plain-dealing were subject to considerable publicity in the 2012 aftermath of the Barclays Bank 'rate-fixing' scandal. Barclays Bank traders were found to have distorted (both for considerable corporate benefit and personal gain) crucial LIBOR (London Inter-Bank Offered Rate) and Euribor (Euro Interbank Offered Rate) reports in the run-up to the global financial crisis of 2008 and beyond, specifically 2005-2009, for which subsequently the bank was fined £290m. The UK House of Commons (i.e., Parliamentary) Treasury Select Committee, responsible for examining and making statutory/legal recommendations on financial issues relating to state monetary affairs, called Bob Diamond, the recently departed CEO of Barclays Bank, to appear before the committee in 2012 to answer questions about the scandal. Committee member Labour MP John Mann asked Bob Diamond if he could state the three founding principles of Barclays Bank. Diamond didn't know them. Assuming the stated principles are indeed the founding ethos of Barclays Bank (established by quaker John Freame and Thomas Gould, in London, 1690) then obviously Diamond should have known them. Whatever, John Mann's question very incisively exposed not only Bob Diamond's ignorance (Diamond was able to make no informed answer at all about the bank's founding principles), but also the contrast between corporate pragmatism/fraud, versus the integrity and prudence represented by the three guiding principles of Honesty, Integrity and Plain-dealing. Incidentally Diamond resigned from his post as CEO the day before appearing in front of the committee. He had earned personally in the region of £120m in his years as Barclays' most successful investment banker, and while he was responsible for massive growth in the bank's market position and profits, he also presided over the scandal as chief of Barclays' investment banking activities, and so was either ignorant of the fraud (according to his evidence) and therefore arguably to a degree was not a fully competent CEO, or he knew about the fraud and effectively sanctioned it, (in which case his evidence was untrue). If anyone can refer me to official confirmation that these principles - Honesty, Integrity, and Plain-dealing - were indeed Barclays Bank's early corporate motto please get in touch. Completely unconnected and rather less excitingly, HIP is a familiar acronym in the UK having represented controversially the  Home Information Pack legislative requirements of the early 2000s, which placed responsibility on house-sellers to provide prospective buyers with certain information about the property, at some cost and administrative nuisance to the seller, which many argued to be unnecessarily bureaucratic and expensive. HIPs lasted a few short years before the legislation was put into reverse and information requirements were greatly reduced. Separately in marketing terminology, and more widely relevant, HIP stands for High Involvement Product. This is a term for a product which requires a high amount of thought by the customer before purchase, such as cars, holidays, pension plans, houses, etc. By definition the selling approach must be different for HIPs compared to sales situations requiring less thought, FMCGs (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) and LIPs (Low Involvement Products) for example.


Hair Is Vanishing. Amusing alternative interpretation (thanks EP) contrasting with the seriousness of the more usual meaning of Human Immunodeficiency Virus.


Husband Is Village Idiot. (ODSA) Classic nurses' shorthand.


Hope Our Love Lasts And Never Dies. Acronym from the envelopes of wartime home-bound love letters (see also CHIP, ITALY, SWALK, EGYPT and NORWICH). Text messaging ain't got nothing on it...


Hard-up Old Person Expecting Full Useful Life. Another poignant demographics acronym. Could be a great name for the next governement initiative on pensions...


Human Remains. Cynical interpretation of the more conventional Human Resources meaning (thanks Gwen). Additionally, alternatively, and ironically, also: Hardly Relevant (thanks Nikki).


Hope This Helps. Email abbreviation when replying to requests. Potentially counter-productive if the recipient doesn't understand what it means...


Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol. Destined to become one of those abbreviations which nobody knows the origin of in thirty years time, and here mainly lest we forget.


How To Make Love. Amusing alternative interpretation of the more conventional HyperText Markup Language meaning of HTML, normally representing the code which underpins the workings of much of what we see on the internet. Alternative created and contributed by writer by S McCarthy, thanks.


Head Up His/Her Arse/Ass. Not a good place for one's head to be and arguably a lot worse than up in the clouds. (Ack P Farrant)


It's About Me Stupid. Elegant and wonderful acronym for many and various situations, especially explaining and understanding human relationships and communications. A great reference point for explaining the 'emotional contract' and the false notion that people will do what you say just because you tell them so. See also WIIFM, and the sections on empathyand Transactional Analysis.


I Am Not A Doctor/I Am Not A Lawyer. Informal disclaimer, usually followed by "but...", and then the advice, used in electroning postings of unqualified opinions, suggestions or advice relating to medical/legal matters. (Thanks D Rudloff)


I Blame Microsoft. A 'backronym' with different applications, aside from having a dig at MS, for example to highlight where a person finds it difficult to accept responsibility for their own actions, or more usually, inactivity. (Ack to Dr Neale Roney.) IBM is also interpreted (ack P&J) as I've Been Married, in dating circles, and in some jobs, for example the police service, which for some competes strongly with marital responsibilities. And with no slight intended to the IBM corporation (ack S Adam), since this can apply anywhere, Idiots Become Managers. More IBM acronyms (in fact backronyms or 'corporanyms') for IBM as used for the IBM corporation are listed in the corporate backronyms list.


In Case of A Balls Up. A wonderfully funny, memorable, and very meaningful acronym for project management and all kinds of planning or forward-thinking activities. ICABU serves as a reminder and teaching aid for putting something in place - typically a cost provision (technically you might call it 'contingency planning') - for the possibility that something could go wrong, or an unexpected obstacle/implication/cost may arise, during project implementation. It is always helpful to remember and allow for the ICABU factor. Origins uncertain. No doubt someone will tell me if they know. (Thanks J Hudson)


In Case of Emergency. While the acronym has had this meaning for a while, in recent times the termonology has assumed additional significance: apparently modern practice is increasingly to identify a special 'ICE number' within one's mobile telephone 'phone book' listing, so that in case of suffering a debilitating accident or emergency, a person assisting anyone in their moment of need is able immediately to contact the nominated friend, spouse, parent, etc. (Ack D Kugler)


Idiot. Not an acronym obviously but worthy of inclusion. The 'ID Ten T' code has been used by technical service people for years, and probably explains very well a large proportion of user-reported faults and queries. See also UBAD, ID10T, BDU, PEBCAK and PICNIC.


Identify, Design, Execute, Augment. Process for changing anything. Identify the issues, priorities, constraints, resources; Design the plan; Execute the plan; Augment, refine, adjust and improve activies to consolidate change. (Ack. Dean Whitehead.)


Identify, Define, Explore, Action, Lookback. Process for solving problems: Identify the problem, Define it, Explore possible solutions and effects, Action the chosen solution, and Look back at the SNAFU you've brought about (not really - Look back at a 100% successful outcome and a job well done). (Ack. Don Clark)


Investors In People. The UK system of human resources quality and development accreditation system. Or more amusingly, Intellectually Impaired Person (or Passenger or Protester) - being the unofficial term allegedly used by some London Transport staff to describe a person aggressively questioning staff and appearing not to understand the information or explanations provided. (Ack AB) See also PITSA.


Just About Managing. Most commonly referring to a demographic group of people and families whose earnings hardly allow a standard of living above poverty, that is 'poverty' according modern western definitions and standards. This is a recent acronym from the 2010s popularized in the news media and used by UK government ministers in 2016 when attempting to appeal to traditional 'working class' and 'ordinary people'. We might observe that western definitions of poverty and 'just about managing' equate to sublime luxury and comfort in most of the world (Africa, India, China, Central/South America, Eastern Europe, vast swathes of Asia, war-torn Arab nations, etc.) JAM and 'just about managing' might also be applied to any individual or situation where the main focus and peak achievement is survival or averting complete disaster.


Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd/I Know Everything Already. Ingvar Kamprad, from a place called Elmtaryd, in Agunnaryd, Sweden, founded the IKEA retail chain. Not a lot of people know that. This has become an inspiration for lots of intriguing quiz questions. (Thanks SJ for the spelling correction). Unrelated to the IKEA retail chain, the now highly familiar IKEA 'word' is also interpreted amusingly as a backronym to mean  I Know Everything Already, which offers wide and varied application to situations and people involving arrogance, decision-making, complacence, lack of consultation, political leadership, etc.


I Know What I Am Doing. Mantra for self-determination and reinforcing self-confidence. The expression logically extends to DIKWIAD? (Do I Know What I Am Doing?) for when a check of competence and preparation is helpful before embarking on new initiatives and challenges, etc. (Thanks B Heyn)


I'll Know It When I See It. Ironic and actually very prevalent alternative approach to WYSIWYG. The IKIWISI principle is not a great help when working with specialists who require a decent brief. People exhibiting IKIWISI behaviour generally need help to try thinking a little about aims and outcomes. See also IKWIWWISI below.


I'll Know What I Want When I See It. Variation on the above theme. The procrastinator's motto. Instead: sit down, think, write down some ideas or aims, and then you will get good results.


Identify, Manage, Change, Improve, Show. The basis of the Japanese approach to TQM, as in: Identify customer-supplier relationships, Manage processes, Change culture, Improve communications, Show commitment. (Acknowledgments to John Oakland.)


In My Humble Opinion. We don't list many acronyms and abbreviations used in web-messaging, emails and texting, etc, because there are millions of them and other sites do it better; however the IMHO acronym has a certain resonance for life and communications generally, and it's been around for ages, so it is worthy of inclusion here. (Thanks DH)


In-Service Education and Training. On-the-job training in other words, just sounds a bit more technical.


Idiots Out Walking About (or Wandering Around). For all those executives who haven't got a clue what's really going on in their companies, and think that a quick stroll among the workers will boost morale and uncover some great idea how to save or make the next million. (Ack Tom Calvert)


Intellectual Property. A common term meaning copyrighted or trademarked or otherwise protected work, owned by the originator unless sold or transferred. Most international law recognises the originator's rights in any type of original work or idea - in whatever media. If you doodle on a napkin or take a photo or write a poem this is all automatically your intellectual property. If you write a book or a play or a training programme or you design a better mousetrap, this would all automatically be your intellectual property (unless of course it replicates intellectual property already belonging to someone else). IP is a widely used abbreviation referring to any work of original creation. It's a complex area however. Many employers quite reasonably insist that any IP developed by their employees relating to their paid employment automatically belongs to the employer (since the employer has paid for it). Some employers seek to extend this to employees' ideas and creations that are not related to the work, which is less reasonable. For more detail relating to IP issues attached to important or potentially significant personal or organisational liabilities, licensing, etc., it's best to seek qualified advice.


Interrupt, Patronise, Argue, Threaten, Terminate, Apply Penalties. A less than ideal customer service process for dealing with complaints and dissatisfied customers - widely exhibited, especially by large organizations in the finance, insurance and telecoms sectors. The acronym is useful to remind all exponents of poor customer service how not to do it...


Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute. Long-established mnemonic (thanks P Goldstein, recalling this from 1970s USA) for risk analysis and responsive action. The acronym (strictly it's an abbreviation) is widely used in vehicle driving training and offers a very specific process-based method for all sorts of situations where chaotic circumstances can produce risks requiring reactive decisions and actions: Identify and analyze a situation; predict possibilities and risks arising; decide appropriate response or action; then execute or apply action. I welcome suggestions as to the origins of the IPDE framework.


Initial Public Offering. A stock exchange term and acronym widely preferred (instead of the full term) by media and corporate folk, referring to the first ('Initial') sale ('Offering') of privately owned equity (stock or shares) in a company, though the issue of shares to the public and other investing institutions ('Public'). While an IPO is technically the first sale of stock by a private company to the general public, in some cases the sale is effectively exclusively to investing institutions, such as pension funds and banks. Sometimes it's good that the general public are denied the opportunity to acquire lots of shares in IPOs because the risks are big and often the launch turns out to be a big loss for investors. While IPOs are most commonly small young companies raising capital to finance growth, IPOs can also be very big indeed, such as recently established technology corporations like Google and Facebook. IPOs are risky for investors as it is especially difficult to predict the value of the stock or shares in a relatively unknown company when they open for trading and in the short-term thereafter. An IPO equates to the expressions 'going public' or 'taking a company public'. It is not unusual for IPOs to fail to attract buyers for all the stock available, in which case the bank underwriting the offering is left with the stock. Setting the IPO share price is a tricky challenge for the company offering itself for sale, as is the assessment of the attraction of the investment by investors, since both are hugely influenced by demand, in turn driven by PR hype and often highly debatable interpretations of market conditions and future performance of company.


Internet Protocol TeleVision (Internet Protocol TV). I wonder if an acronym ever had a more serious fundamental meaning than this one? Full convergence between computers and TV is fast approaching, and its effects will be wide and deep. Nick Negroponte saw something like this coming nearly twenty years ago (they called it the 'Negroponti Switch'). Now it's almost upon us, bigger and scarier than he ever imagined. Just as VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is revolutionizing the phone and mobile communications markets, so TV over the web will do the same for TV, and the incredible implications of combining unlimited on-demand content, a high-speed virtually free internet, and mobile communications. Look out especially for Joost, being pioneered by Zennstrom and Friis, who have already succeeded with two sector-rattling developments - Kazaa and Skype - now safely launched and divested. Other modern age entrepreneurs are now emerging alongside Joost to challenge the traditional 'old economy' media giants, who will all have their work cut out to keep pace with their quicker more efficient rivals in the battle for a share in this unimaginably dynamic market. If you want to try imagining the possibilities, consider combining all types of TV and video content, computer games, virtual reality, web 2.0 interactive internet technology (and the artificial intelligence of web 3.0 when it comes), and wireless anytime-anywhere high-speed high-capacity mobile connectivity. And that's just for starters...


I'd Rather Be In Ambridge. You've seen people with that 'IRBIA' look on their face, when the real world is getting to be too much. When they'd rather be somewhere else, far away from the pressures of a particularly tedious meeting or training course. (Ambridge is the fictional and normally idyllic home to Radio 4's 'The Archers'.)


Innovations Subscribers Don't Need. Amusing alternative interpretation of the abbreviation's original meaning: Integrated Services Digital Network, in other words a digital telephone line. Another alternative meaning: I Still Don't Know. (Ack Q Armitage) And another amusing meaning of ISDN: It Still Does Nothing. (Ack D McNally)


International Standards Organization. The international standards-setting organization chartered by the United Nations, more properly called the International Organization for Standardization, whose 'initials' prefix various published standards, typically four digit numbers, for example ISO9000, the quality standard. The words 'International Standards Organization' are, fascinatingly, a retrospectively applied meaning - ISO was not originally an acronym. The word derives from the Greek 'isos', meaning equal (as in 'isobar' - meaning a line on a weather map denoting the same atmospheric pressure, 'isometric' - meaning equal measure, and 'isosceles' as in an 'isosceles triangle', which you will remember from your school-days is a triangle with two equal sides).


I Trust And Love You. Wartime back-of-envelope lovers code. (See also NORWICH, SWALK, and HOLLAND)


Just Another Flipping Observer. Polite version. A prominent acronym from the days leading up to 'Y2K' (computing and business term for the year 2000) when everywhere large tense business meetings grappled with measures to avert catastrophic computer problems associated with the date change. Anyone unable to contribute to the meeting typically introduced themselves as 'Just here as an observer..', and were known as a JAFO. The acronym is a fitting term for non-participants, hangers-on, etc., where others are taking responsibility. (Ack T Smith) The term however pre-dates Y2K by some years; for example, it appears in the 1983 film 'Blue Thunder', in which the character Richard 'JAFO' Lymngood (actor Daniel Stern) is presented with a hat bearing the acronym then spends most of the film trying to find out what it means. That the subject matter of the film is US military and flying perhaps provides indication as to the true origins of the term. (Ack Keith Young)


Jump And Pump All Night. Australian origins apparently. Various applications. Presumably something to do with bicycles and trampolining. (Ack R Knight)



Just Flipping Do It. The polite version. Pronounced 'Jifdi', this acronym is the antidote to procrastination, and a reminder that simply getting on with it is often the best answer to most moments of self-doubt or hesitation. JFDI is a must for management training, time management and a maxim for self-reliance and empowerment. The Latin equivalent is 'mox nox in rem' ('soon night, so to work')


Joint Industry Committee for National Readership Surveys. The body which established and runs the ABC social grades classification system, much used by media and marketing folk. See the demographics section.


Just In Time. JIT normally describes operational or production methods based on minimizing stock levels, the aim of which is to reduce capital employed in stock, which also has knock-on benefits to reducing storage space, decreasing dependence on logistics, easier supply chain management, and better overall quality. That's the theory anyway. JIT is a lot trickier than it sounds. Certain industries and technologies are far more amenable than others to Just In Time management, and the concept is typically most useful when viewed as a benefit or flexibility arising from strategic improvement within a business operation, than a cause of improvement itself, which it is not. Introducing Just In Time methods without creating the required efficiencies and reliabilities beforehand is not a viable change. There is no room for errors when employing Just In Time management methods, so where an operation is incapable of accommodating JIT methods the description 'disaster waiting to happen' is more apt. Be mindful of this risk whenever you see such examples or suggestions. JIT management requires total commitment to quality and efficiency or the supply chain breaks down and operations come to a halt. The term and methodology were developed within the total quality management field by the Japanese as a next step on from 'materials requirements planning' (MRP). The Japanese original terminology is 'kanban', and it is a vital part of the 'lean production' process methodology. The aim of kanban is actually zero inventory. JIT was and is used successfully by highly efficient manufacturing corporations, notably the Japanese, and has been enabled by computerization especially to analyse and manage timings rather than stock levels. Noted authors to have covered the subject include Edwards Deming, Taiichi Ohno, and Yasuhiro Monden. More generally, similar Just In Time principles can be applied to other functions besides manufacturing and stock and materials management; really any activity where cost and resource can be saved by minimizing leeway and contingencies relating to supply deadlines. The term arises in formal and cynical variations by adding suffixes with the initial letters of the particular Just In Time (or dangerously starved) activity or resource, for example: JITS = Just In Time Stock, JITT = Just In Time Training, JITIA = Just In Time International Aid, etc. Humorous antonyms include JTL = Just Too Late, and the frustratingly JTFL = Just Too Flipping Late.


Just Over Broke. Acronym for economic and financial life-change. A useful spur if you are contemplating self-employment, starting your own business, buying a franchise, becoming a consultant, plumber, etc. (Ack P Gosling)


Knowledge, Attitude, Skills. The constituents required for people to succeed at what they do, individually and collectively. Knowledge and Skills can largely be trained; Attitude can't - it's a factor of personality, emotion, personal circumstances, and the organizational environment - accountants and bosses can't measure it, so it's often overlooked, and then the boss and the accountant wonder why people aren't performing. (Ack. Don Clark) See also KASH below.


Knowledge, Attitude, Skills, Habits. Another useful acronym for trainers to explain different aspects of learning. Generally skills and knowledge are easier to develop and change than attitude and habits. (Ack SD) If you know the origins of the KASH acronym please contact us.


Key Ethical Value. More typically shown in plural as KEVs, referring to the Key Ethical Values of an organization or proposition.


Keep Extending Yourself. Coaching and motivational maxim. A reminder of the importance of striving to improve yourself, and always to be seeking new challenges.


Kids In Parents' Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings. See also SKI-ing for the antidote. (Ack. D Rowland)



Keep It Simple Stupid. One of the all time great acronyms, and so true. A motto and reminder that simplicity works - in communications, design, philosophy, relationships, decision-making, meetings, management and life generally. Apply and promote KISS to any situation to deter unnecessary complication, excuses, bureaucracy, red-tape, and to encourage practical positive outcomes, no-nonsense communications, integrity, truth, beauty, and honesty. (See also 'JFDI'). Variations on the KISS theme include Keep It Short and SweetKeep It Simple SunshineKeep It Simple and StraightforwardKeep It Simple SisterKeep It Simple Sweetheart, etc. For a free KISS colour poster see the free businessballs posters page.


Kick In The Ass/Arse. Motivation at its most basic. In fact not motivation at all. (See also AKUTA). Managers persisting with this idiocy will find that after a KITA session the recipient will be motivated to move only the small distance that Newton's Laws of Motion provide for them to do so, and then will do one or more probably a number of certain things:

  • sprawl to the floor in a useless heap (metaphorically) and be less committed and productive than they were pre-KITA, and/or
  • turn around and return their manager's KITA with a PITG (Punch In The Gob) and/or
  • say nothing, go home and begin preparations to STEFABOD (Sue The Employer For A Barnful Of Damages).


Key Lines Of Enquiry. System much used now by the UK Audit Commission (and no doubt by other highly centralised and high-control culture organizations) to set down extremely specific criteria for inspectors assessing and reporting on local government services. So much for empowerment... (Ack MC)


Kit Off And Legs Akimbo. Various applications, most obviously referring to sexual readiness. Incidentally the word akimbo normally refers to arms not legs - hands on hips, with arms bent at the elbow. (Thanks S Smith, possible/probable originator, c.2002) Early recollections of this acronyms welcome. Please send them.


Key Performance Indicator/Key Success Indictor. A measure, target or standard, used to manage and gauge the performance of an activity, process or project. Establishing a series of KPI's or KSI's is a very useful way to manage, monitor and assess the effectiveness of any organizational activity or process (Thanks for reminder Nick Whiteley). KSI (= Key Success Indicator) is a less common version of this acronym.


Keep Your Hands And Feet To Yourselves. For the youngest of audiences, or unruly adult ones. Originally a teachers' acronym but much too good to restrict to school assemblies. (Acknowledgments to Anstey Latimer School, Leicester, England.)


Longitudinal And Directional Distance Extremity Reacher. Perhaps one of the silliest and most wonderful reverse acronyms ever to have been devised. (Ack M Rand)


Life After Divorce Is Eventually Saner. Motto for independence and self-determination, from the so-named activist group.


Lower Academically-Minded Person. Euphemistic reference to an idiot, or someone who's behaviour resembles one. (Ack P Garbutt) LAMP® also refers to the Miller Heiman organisation's Large Account Management Process, which is an altogether more serious use of the abbreviation (see the sales training section).


Lights Are Not On. For people who aren't concentrating or simple unable to do so. See MEGO, PEARL and RHINO. The shorthand coded version of 'The wheel is turning but the hamster is dead'. (Ack L Speden) Alterntive acronym is: LONI = Lights On, Nobody In. (Ack MG)


Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The word laser was originally a scientific acronym, devised in the 1960s. The originators wisely based the abbreviation on the key words only, ignoring the connecting words. LABTSEOR is rather less memorable. (Thanks KBS)


Listen, Advise, Solve, Thank. A good aid for training customer service and complaints handling. (Ack Tumby). Certain organizations continue to pursue less positive methods, notably the IFO technique (Ignore and Fob-Off) or the IPATTAP model (Interrupt, Patronise, Argue, Threaten, Terminate, Apply Penalties).


Left Brains In Airport Carpark. As used by airport and airline ground handling staff the world over, and also very good for inattentive delegates who've had to make an expensive air trip just to fall asleep on your training course. (Ack. David Rawsthorn)


Low Decision Latitude. LDL is an occupational health term, increasingly finding its way into mainstream management discussion. Low Decision Latitude among staff fundamentally undermines performance and welfare at work. Latitude here means scope or flexibility. Low Decision Latitude refers to lack or loss of personal control and choice in the way a job is done. Low Decision Latitude contributes significantly towards workplace stress, and potentially other health problems such as heart disease. Despite this, many organizations persist with management and operational strategies which greatly restrict individual freedoms as to how tasks are done (called Job Decision Latitude), so that workers experience LDL and consequent productivity problems - the opposite of what the management pressure sought to accomplish. Restriction of choice and control is in itself stressful; also stressful is the restriction or imposition of  working/thinking style. LDL causes both. Low Job Decision Latitude is a longer version of the term. (Thanks P McAndrew)


Listen, Empathise, Ask, Resolve. A fine mnemonic for customer service and other problem-solving communications, which appears in John Stanley's highly regarded book Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know (thanks Stephen Carr, Dec 2007). John Stanley is a retail expert, writer and speaker. Here is more detail of the model represented by the LEAR acronym:

  1. Listen - You must show serious and honest concern for the customer seriousl, which you will begin to do by listening. By listening actively you also take the first step towards diffusing customer upset or anger.
  2. Empathise - Put yourself in the customer's shoes and see the situation from their perspective. Showing genuine concern and understanding is vital for empathy. Understanding is not necessarily the same as agreeing, which can be important where the issue needs investigating before finally resolving.
  3. Ask - Ask Questions: ask open questions (what, how, etc) to diagnose the situation or request, and never attempt to interrupt, or justify your point or argue. The customer is not interested in your point of view - the other person wants you to understand them, not present a defence or a counter-argument.
  4. Resolve - Resolve the problem to the customer's satisfaction as quickly as possible. Consider the value of the customer and not the cost of resolving this particular issue.

(Thanks Stephen Carr, and acknowledgements to John Stanley, who confirmed to me that to the best of his recollection he devised the acronym in the 1970s. Here is John Stanley's website, which will be useful especially if you are interested in the retail industry.)


Light Emitting Diode/Organic Light Emitting Diode - The term LED has become a general term for a light of various sorts which employs LED technology. OLED technology began to feature in television screens in the 2010s.


Listen, Empathise, De-personalise, Offer. Mainly for customer service, and also good for any conciliation or conflict resolution: listen to the complaint, empathise with the customer, de-personalise the situation (both of you stand back and look at it objectively), and then offer a solution. Brilliant and simple. (Ack. Matt Booth)


Lazy Ignorant Fool Expecting Retirement. One of the many amusing acronyms with miltary origins, with wider potential applications. The armed forces offer relatively short timescales by which staff can retire on a full pension, hence the expression to describe people who fail to make the most of their opportunities and efforts. The term has also been spotted in the education sector. (Ack DR)


Low Involvement Product. Marketingspeak for a product which doesn't require much thought before purchase. Question: Are all FMCGs LIPs as well?


Load, Individual, Task/Travel, Environment. Health and Safety manual handling checklist mnemonic. Consider the item characteristics (shape, weight, ease of handling, etc); the person (age, gender, ability, training, etc); the procedure and distance (awkwardness, duration, frequency, etc); and the surrounding situation (conditions, temperature, logistics, pressure, etc). (Thanks C Davis)


Lights On But Nobody's At Home. Great extension of LANO, LONI or as an alternative to PEARL. Also for people who say that they've been listening when really we know they haven't.


Lots of Love. (Or) Laughing Out Loud. Ubiquitous acronym found in email, chatroom and texting communications. Very probably the most common acronym in use today.


Lack Of Flipping Talent. Sardonic put-down or comment upon a daft action of a colleague found in banter across City trading floors and sales offices where such aggressive and competitive behaviours are part of the scene. (Ack R Werrett)


Loads Of Money But A Real Dickhead. As if any confirmation were needed; inheritence or accumulation of wealth doesn't necessarily correlate with decency and integrity. A good acronym for Maslow and  Herzberg emphasis. (Thanks DM for reminder) Lombard in fact is a very old word for a pawn broker, derived from Lombardy in Italy where the system first flourished due to religious constraints surrounding money-lending.


Lights On, Nobody In. Alternative acronym to LANO from the 'wheel is turning but the hamster is dead' category. (Ack MG)


Leave Until Christmas Is Done. Yuletide acronym, when procrastinators everywhere are joined by most of the western world in deferring anything other than a life-threatening emergency until the Christmas blow-out is properly organized and maximum enjoyment extracted.


Mad As A Hatter. (ODSA) This healthcare acronym has a certain onomatopoeic quality... (Ack E Thomas)


Moves All Extremities Well. (ODSA) Nurses and doctors acronym used on patient notes. The term is perfectly transferable to over-active team members, and delegates at meetings or training courses. See also KYHAFTY.


Most Applications Crash. If Not, The Operating System Hangs. Largely unfair but very clever reverse acronym.


Middle-Aged Man In Lycra/Leather. This wonderful relatively recent acronym (post 2000 almost certainly) apparently refers primarily to the increasing behaviour of certain men of 45-60ish years cycling - for pleasure or commuting purposes - in busy city streets, notably London, but elsewhere for sure too. Being of a certain aspirational disposition and reasonably well-off income bracket, no expense is spared in selecting an expensive bike and usually not very attractive stretch-fabric clothing. The meaning extends to describe a slight variation of 'mid-life crisis' males pursuing or rekindling teenage/twenty-something dreams of motorbiking, since discovering more spare time and disposable income now the kids are grown, and the mortage paid off.


Master of Business Administration. Not everyone knows what this actually stands for, and when you think about it, 'Master of Business Administration' arguably gives a somewhat lop-sided impression of what modern business management is all about. Too late to change it now though.. Alternatively and more mischievously (thanks P Eastham) MBA is interpreted by some to mean Master of Bugger All.

MBO (or MBO's)

Management By Objectives. The classic management, delegation and development technique, but which people's activities and aims - and the coaching support given - can be geared to organizational targets and priorities. See also SMART and SMARTER, and the techniques for effective delegation. (Thanks for reminder SD)


Management By Walking Around/Wandering About. (Or variations of these words.) Depending on who is doing the walking about and whether you are in the vicinity this could be either a good thing or a bad thing. If you are a manager and like to manage by walking about make sure you do it with humility and genuine interest. Better still why not actually do the job on the factory floor for a week and you'll really find out what's going on. (Thanks Tom Calvert for pointing out this omission.) See also IOWA. The term MBWA is generally acknowledged to have been coined by Tom Peters (In Search Of Excellence, 1982), but the MBWA style, and its extended variant MBWAL, were part of a new management ideology which seems to have been first pioneered by a few bright American companies as far back as the 1940s (eg Varian Associates, the healthcare company), along with Management By Objectives and Open Door Management. The style was later adopted and further evangelised from the late 1950s onwards by David Packard and William Hewlett, the founders of Hewlett Packard (who seem to have learned it from working at some stage with Edward Ginzton of Varian). This modern approach is also known as Silicon Valley Management - SVM - because that's the location of the first companies who used it, and where its effectiveness was first proven. The SVM style, and its contemporary variations, now a mainstay of recently successful big organizations like Cisco and Sun, is also indirectly referred to as the 'HP Way'.


Management By Walking Around and Listening/Management By Wandering About And Listening. (And other variations using these words.) Extension of the MBWA management technique. In many cases - notably managers and executives who merely walk about, smile or frown at staff, and remain aloof and ignorant of front-line and shop-floor issues - this is the crucial extension required for the MBWA method to have a chance to be effective.


Mutually Exclusive, Comprehensively Exhaustive. The MECE acronym, pronounced 'mee-see', is frequently used in a consulting environment. The term 'Mutually Exclusive, Comprehensively Exhaustive' describes a list of options in which all possibilities are covered, and where options can all be identified clearly and separately. The expression is potentially applicable widely beyond consulting, to any situation in which the identification of the full range of distinctively different methods, options, answers, etc., is useful or necessary. MECE very succinctly and elegantly signifies objectivity, transparency and quality of data, and so fits neatly with modern ideas of coaching and facilitation, as well as professional and clinical consulting. Interestingly and not surprisingly, politicians, and certain types of business folk, advertisers, and marketeers, rarely offer MECE lists of options because they prefer to point their audience in a particular direction (recommending or promoting, rather than enabling) and therefore present biased and narrow options, commonly supported by weak or inaccurate data. (Thanks D Rudloff)


My Eyes Glazed Over. Watch for this sign from your audience at your next presentation. If spotted you could need more acronyms.... See PEARL and LANO also.


Mediocrity, Ego, Limits, Vanity, Incompetence, Name-calling. Non-productive aspects of workplace behaviour and attitude. Various MELVIN terms (eg 'NO MELVIN', 'Don't be a MELVIN', 'No MELVIN's here', etc) help remind people of the behaviours to avoid, especially in blame cultures or negative-thinking environments. (Ack P Lubbers) Sits well alongside other motivational and positive attitude maxims, many examples on the quotes and  leadership sections, and links well with the philosophies of Covey's seven habitsCarter-Scott's rules of life and Ruiz's Four Agreements.



Maximum Impact, Little Effort. Acronym to express the principle of optimising productivity, and the value of identifying 'high-yield' areas on which to apply 'high-yield' methods and techniques. Especially helpful in sales and marketing training. See also PAY and MOFMOF. See  Pareto Principle (The 80:20 Rule). (Ack PL)


Mom I'd Like to Fondle. Polite(-ish) version. Thank you to the several million people who have pointed out this omission. Outrageous of course. Mom I'd Like to Feel offers some variety aside from the obvious and better known version. These are not references to incest. MILF came to prominence in the 1999 teen-movie American Pie, hence US spelling Mom instead of Mum. Variations include MILT (Mom In Leather Trousers), MILE (Mom I'd Like to Enjoy), SMILE (Soccer Mom I'd Like to Enjoy), SMILT (Soccer Mom In Leather Trousers) and  DILF (work it out). Please don't send any more. Oh alright then.. (Acknowledgements are too numerous to mention. You know who you are..)


Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey. An economic grouping of emerging economic powers (as at the 2010s), suggested to be the next tier below the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China). The MINT countries theory was publicized heavily in early 2014 by Jim O'Neill, Goldman Sach's ex-MD/chief-economist, who is considered to have originated the BRIC acronym/grouping, and by the power of PR inferred a claim to having originated the MINT concept too. There seems however quite strong evidence that the Fidelity Investments corporation more quietly originated the MINT acronym/grouping in early 2011.


Mobility Impaired Person. Semi-official acronym used by London Transport staff to describe a person who may have difficulty using stairs or escalators because of some physiological condition or because they are burdened with heavy luggage and/or children. (Ack AB) See also VIP.

MMM or 3M

Measurable, Manageable, Motivational. A great tri-pod or three-legged stool analogy - the three essential struts for any contracted arrangement or understanding, or delegated task. Remove any of the three legs and the structure falls over. See also SMART, and the Smartie Hunt team building game. Alternatively: Mrs, Mother, Martyr, with an optional fourth M for Mistress if appropriate. (Ack E Gidley)


Minimum Of Fuss, Maximum Of Flavour. The MOFMOF principle and acronym are advocated by, and should be attributed to, Italian chef Antonio Carluccio. The MOFMOF maxim is however extremely transferable to work, management, business, and to life generally, since it essentially emphasises the concept of focusing your effort on what matters most. 'Minimum of Fuss' equates to minimum effort, investment, time, resources, etc. 'Maximum of Flavour' equates to maximum return, result, reward or effect, etc. This is the secret of productivity, sustainable success, and effectiveness in all fields, not just cooking, and is one of the most widely neglected simple rules of achieving anything. The wonderful Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule) provides a useful scientific perspective to support the MOFMOF analogy, in which '80' equates to the reward and '20' equates to the effort. Thus, the aim is not to achieve absolute perfection (which is invariably a subjective judgement anyway), but instead to seek the best ratio between input and output - best output relative to input. See also the acronyms MILE and  PAY, which convey similar ideas. The Law of Diminishing Returns is another (converse) way of exploring or illustrating this principle, i.e., that beyond an optimum 'MOFMOF' level and type of effort (investment, resource, time, etc), which is commonly the crucial 20% of the maximum possible, the rate of return declines, such that, for example, the final 1% of improvement might easily require a whopping 75% of the total possible investment. N.B. The MOFMOF principle is not to be confused with or regarded as undermining Total Quality methodologies such as Six Sigma and TQM (Total Quality Management) which concern near-to 100% quality and reliability necessary in critical processes such as manufacturing and other activities with important safety and reliability implications. TQM and Six Sigma deal with absolute situations, where performance and quality is viewed in isolation. MOFMOF and Pareto Analysis are useful in relative situations, where performance and quality do not have to be perfected in every single absolute respect, rather optimised to produce the best result or effect, relative to the investment.


Massive Open Online Course/Courses. The term is relatively recent, apparently emerging first in 2008. MOOC is commonly pluralized - MOOCs - in references to the education market/industry and trends within education. According to Wikipedia 2012, "...the term MOOC was coined in 2008 by Dave Cormier, Manager of Web Communication and Innovations at the University of Prince Edward Island, and Senior Research Fellow Bryan Alexander of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education in response to an open online course designed and led by George Siemens, associate director, Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University and Stephen Downes, Senior Researcher at The National Research Council (Canada)..." A MOOC (a sort of VLE - Virtual Learning Environment) tends to have certain characteristics, although the concept is new and developing and subject to change, not least because some early market entrants/pioneers are commercially underpinned. MOOCs typically comprise the following elements: 'higher education' or 'further education', i.e., in the college/university space, not schooling for children; accessible via the web; free to learners (although some MOOCs require fees); available to/used by very big numbers of learners (from hundreds up to potentially millions per course); the learning is mainly learner-driven/controlled; registrations and certifications are (so far) less formal than in conventional further/higher education (although we can expect this aspect to become progressively more rigorous over time, and certain MOOCs and MOOC providers definitely require registration). MOOCs - and the concept itself - potentially represent a very big part of future further/higher education, especially for the 'mass market' of learners not wanting to be solicitors or doctors, etc., and especially considering the arguably declining and pressurized costs/value/quality of education in traditional 'bricks and mortar' universities, which, just like traditional books, newspapers, recorded music, retailing, etc., is an older, more rigid and expensive delivery model when competing with vastly more efficient supply/services available digitally via the web. MOOC critics and detractors may suggest that learning, like other forms of communication and relationships, always works best when conducted 'face-to-face' or at least in the physical presence of a teacher, and that the university life experience cannot be replaced by online activities. In many situations this is very true, except that an entire global generation is now growing up using phone/computer/tablet/digital systems for managing virtually every significant aspect of their lives. Future generations simply will not need the face-to-face contact that past generations did, just as nowadays we don't need horses for transport, and young people don't need watches to know the time. People living a few generations ago would never have imagined that the telephone (never mind email and texting) would completely eclipse the centuries-old tradition of writing letters. Picture-house/cinema customers in their millions never considered TV or radio as a threat. Even when computers first emerged commercially in the 1960s they remained purely a business/commercial tool for decades because no-one considered they could have a purpose for ordinary people. Now most children (other than those in genuine poverty) possess a smartphone which can outperform a business mainframe computer of the 1990s. So MOOCs - or something very similar - are very probably the long-term future of the main parts of higher/further education. MOOCs could also easily become very significant in teaching very young people. Young people find and use things that are useful, whether they are supposed to or not. The MOOC model will no doubt alter (probably financially, and the technology will become more sophisticated), but a big part of the future of higher/further education (for teachers and lecturers too) is online for sure. So perhaps we should begin thinking about what to do with all these university buildings everywhere.. They could help solve the homelessness problem, for example. (It is maybe not wholly coincidental that MOOC finds itself very close in dictionary listings and glossaries to MOODLE below, which is a closely related and often integrated system within the MOOC concept.)


Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. Moodle is a very popular open source VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) internet website platform. Platform in this sense means the technology and code on which a website operates. Apparently the M first stood for Martin, after Martin Dougiamas, the originator of the Moodle system. Also, apparently, the word moodle is now a verb too, referring to the process of improvisation and discovery leading to enjoyable personal development and learning. Moodle.


Matter Of Life And Death. Acronym for extremes and emergencies. (Thanks A Sanderson)


Measure Of Performance. Critical and essential aspect of all sorts of business activities (training, delegation, planning anything, product development, etc), often overlooked, which invariably produces unsatisfactory and un-measurable results that then surprise the perpetrators. (Ack. Don Clark)


Mean Time Between Changes of Mind. Originally an engineering abbreviation, which is actually applicable to all project work and delegated tasks, from the perspective of the delegate, or person expected to carry out the work. When designing, performing or carrying out any activity at the request or instruction of another person or group, it is usually best to wait a given time (the MTBCM) until the specification has stabilised. A few situations and instructions have a MTBCM of zero (for example when you have left your car in the CEO's car-park space); most other tasks (for example creating a new corporate brochure or a company-wide training programme) tend to change in nature considerably, and many times, before agreement is possible on final specification. The MTBCM factor does not allow of course for those projects which need to be started before a precise specification can be agreed, which is another matter altogether.... (Ack MG)


Most Useless Police Probationer Ever Trained. Not a recommended trainer's term, given the acronym's obvious disrespectful tone. (Thanks NT). See also Muppet in the word origins.


Middle-aged Urban Professional. Amusing twist on the YUPPIE theme. Another demographic social class acronym from the 1980s.


Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes. Again, one of those acronyms whose origins are not widely known. The NAAFI traditionally run shops and bars within forces establishments. NAAFI has been alternatively and mischievously interpreted within parts of HM Forces as Naff All Ambition F' all Interest or Not At All Flipping Interested in referring to certain NAAFI staff who display a lack of motivation, arguably resulting from low incentive, and by comparison with their customers, a relatively safe existence. (Thanks R Bolden and S Keightley)


Not A Chance Til After Christmas. Understandable response from overworked despatch departments and customer services staff when attempting to explain quite reasonably that it's not possible to process urgent last-minute orders received at lunchtime on the day before holiday shut-down. Variations include NACTAE (Easter), NACTAT (Thanksgiving), etc.


Nothing Abnormal Discovered/Detected. (ODSA) Nurses and healthcare staff acronym to describe test results that are within the normal range. However, NAD is alternatively often used when superiors ask for the results of tests that no-one thought to order, in which case it means Not Actually Done..... This form of the acronym is of course eminently transferable to all orgnisational situations where managers fail to notice their mistakes, and also fail to notice the generosity of their staff, who bail them out and never mention a thing.... (ack E Thomas)


Not A Lot Going On. Retrospectively applied meaning to the NALGO trade union name. The acronym's original meaning was National Association of Local Government Officers, which merged with NUPE and COHSE in 1993 to form UNISON, now the largest UK trade union representing over a million public service workers and volunteers. (Ack R Tickner)


Not A Team Operator. Excellent reverse acronym for emphasising verious aspects of team-working, and specifically for glory-hunters and autocrats everywhere (Ack. L Speden). Also mischievously interpreted as No Action, Talk Only (thanks G Cook), which given the meaning has far wider application than references to NATO, which properly stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO comprises 26 countries (as at May 2008), all supposedly '...committed to fulfilling the goals of the North Atlantic Treaty, signed on 4 April 1949...' If you are interested in what the treaty is and what NATO is technically for, here it is below. I love the irony where it says " settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations..." The interpretation Not A Team Operator is rather fitting don't you think in terms of certain NATO and UN members' behaviours in modern times.

The North Atlantic Treaty - Washington D.C. - 4 April 1949 
The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments. They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area. They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security. They therefore agree to this North Atlantic Treaty : Article 1 The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. Article 2 The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting conditions of stability and well-being. They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them. Article 3 In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack. Article 4 The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened. Article 5 The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security . Article 6 (1) For the purpose of Article 5, an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack: on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France (2), on the territory of or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer; on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer. Article 7 This Treaty does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations under the Charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security. Article 8 Each Party declares that none of the international engagements now in force between it and any other of the Parties or any third State is in conflict with the provisions of this Treaty, and undertakes not to enter into any international engagement in conflict with this Treaty. Article 9 The Parties hereby establish a Council, on which each of them shall be represented, to consider matters concerning the implementation of this Treaty. The Council shall be so organised as to be able to meet promptly at any time. The Council shall set up such subsidiary bodies as may be necessary; in particular it shall establish immediately a defence committee which shall recommend measures for the implementation of Articles 3 and 5. Article 10 The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty. Any State so invited may become a Party to the Treaty by depositing its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America. The Government of the United States of America will inform each of the Parties of the deposit of each such instrument of accession. Article 11 This Treaty shall be ratified and its provisions carried out by the Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional processes. The instruments of ratification shall be deposited as soon as possible with the Government of the United States of America, which will notify all the other signatories of each deposit. The Treaty shall enter into force between the States which have ratified it as soon as the ratifications of the majority of the signatories, including the ratifications of Belgium, Canada, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, have been deposited and shall come into effect with respect to other States on the date of the deposit of their ratifications. (3) Article 12 After the Treaty has been in force for ten years, or at any time thereafter, the Parties shall, if any of them so requests, consult together for the purpose of reviewing the Treaty, having regard for the factors then affecting peace and security in the North Atlantic area, including the development of universal as well as regional arrangements under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security. Article 13 After the Treaty has been in force for twenty years, any Party may cease to be a Party one year after its notice of denunciation has been given to the Government of the United States of America, which will inform the Governments of the other Parties of the deposit of each notice of denunciation. Article 14 This Treaty, of which the English and French texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the Government of the United States of America. Duly certified copies will be transmitted by that Government to the Governments of other signatories. The definition of the territories to which Article 5 applies was revised by Article 2 of the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the accession of Greece and Turkey signed on 22 October 1951. On January 16, 1963, the North Atlantic Council noted that insofar as the former Algerian Departments of France were concerned, the relevant clauses of this Treaty had become inapplicable as from July 3, 1962. The Treaty came into force on 24 August 1949, after the deposition of the ratifications of all signatory states. (As at May 2008 - see for the whole shooting match, so to speak.)


Nota Bene. Abbreviation of the Latin expression commonly used to emphasise the importance of a statement, literally meaning 'observe well'. Or less politely and more amusingly, No Bullshit.


Not in Employment, Education or Training. During 2009 the number of UK under-25s in this category rose to above one million people. It seems strange that when so much needs doing there are so many people not doing anything, and the authorities are incapable of matching one with the other (especially given so many managers out of work not doing anything either).


Normal For Londoners. (ODSA). Flexible and disparaging reference to a group of people deemed to be less intelligent or capable than those using the term. The third word is widely substituted for other areas, towns and cities (for example NFN = Normal for Norfolk, NFS = Normal For Selby, and NFF = Normal For Fife). Beware potential discrimination litigation hazards, ie., nationalities are not recommended for third words. The acronym potentially extends to corporate, organisational and inter-departmental rivalries, whereby third word options include: management, marketing, salesmen, engineers, officers, solicitors, accountants, etc. See also SNEFN.


Needs a Good Shag. Reference, apparently, to a certain type of human anxiety having little or no discernible cause. (Thanks RW)


Near-Instantaneously Companded Audio Multiplex. I bet you never knew that.... A great one for quizzes and smart aleks. 'Companded' is a technical compound word made from 'compressed' and 'expanded', like modem and codec, also featured on this page. (Ack KBS, and D Harte for further details). Alternatively and sardonically employed by some sound reproduction purists to mean Not Intended to Carry Any Music (Ack P Kirkpatrick).


Now I've Got You. An acronym specifically relating to Transactional Analysis 'games', however, the term is widely applicable beyond this, eg, uncovering deceipt or duplicity, solving a problem, mastering a new skill, etc.


Negative, Ignorant, Greedy, Hopeless, Thankless, Miserable, Angry, Rude, Envious. A bacronym which can be used alongside the aspirational DREAM aconym model. The 'NIGHTMARE' characteristics enable discussion of their implications as human traits, notably when exhibited by 'role-models' in the media and news, etc. This leads to exploring the opposite positive meanings of the traits, in terms of a moral/life code and philosophy, and the notion of transforming nightmarish tendencies and expectations into aspirational ones, given that such attitudes are usually a matter of personal choice. For example:

  • Negative (instead - be positive - 'always look on the bright side')
  • Ignorant (instead - seek knowledge and wisdom, and people will seek you)
  • Greedy (instead - give rather than take - karma - what goes around comes around)
  • Hopeless (instead have hope - dream - imagine who you can be and how you'd want to be remembered)
  • Thankless (instead be grateful - appreciate life - we are blessed compared to most of the world)
  • Miserable (instead be happy - spread smiles - be fun to be with)
  • Angry (instead, tolerance and patience are very powerful habits in life)
  • Rude (instead be kind and considerate to others - 'do as you would be done by')
  • Envious (instead, strive to be someone others look up to - envy nothing and no-one - be your own person)

Note: In this context the word 'hopeless' means lacking hope and aspiration, not 'useless'.

(Thanks M Dorgan)


Not In My Back-Yard. Term given to a person or group having the audacity to complain about a nuclear waste recycling plant or high security prison being built close to their homes. Gave rise to the term 'nimbyism' which is generally used by people to criticise others who are behaving in exactly the same way as would those making nimbyism accusations, were they to find themselves in similar circumstances (this type of person known as a PIGINIMBY - Phew I'm Glad It's Not In My Back-Yard). See also BANANA.


No Income, No Job or Assets. A relatively recent acronym which achieved prominence during the summer 2007 'sub-prime' loans crisis, in which banks and financial markets questioned (for a day or two anyway) the wisdom of lending too much money to people who would be unlikely to be able to make the repayments, especially when interest rates rose. (Ack S Gilbert) The term 'sub-prime' is a banking euphemism for dodgy, risky, unethical, idiotic, short-sighted, reckless, irresponsible, etc., (delete as applicable). The leaders of the big corporate banks don't actually really care if the loans are risky and irresponsible because their corporations are expert at laying off these debts elsewhere, and ultimately are effectively immune from even the most extraordinarily high levels of self-inflicted bad debts, because the losses can always be recovered from their millions of other fee-paying customers who are far too passive and trusting for their own good. You will gather that I am not a great fan of the big banks, and I enjoy very much the following question and answer: What do you call twenty 20 bankers at the bottom of the sea?......... A good start. I am sure there are one or two ethical corporate bankers out there who have experienced feelings of human kindness and consideration at some time in their lives - if only towards their wives and children, or maybe as infants themselves prior to suffering their own desperate childhood sadness and neglect as tends to produce a fixation on greed and exploitating others - but they are a rare breed indeed. "A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many and various and powerful interests, combined into one mass, and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in the banks." In essence nothing much has changed - other than the situation has gone global - since the American politician John Calhoun made this observation in 1936. The banks - and other similarly large and greedy industries (oil, construction, defence notably) - hold the well-being of our world, and the testicles of our politicians, in their hands. God help us all.


No Known Drug Allergies. (ODSA). Nursing and healthcre staff acronym, alternatively the abbreviation is used to mean Not Known, Didn't Ask. (ack ET)


Neuro-Linguistic Programming. A modern scientific model for communication and self-development. See the NLP sectionfor more information. 'Neuro' refers to the way your brain and senses, interprets and process your experiences. 'Linguistic' refers to the interpretation of experience through language. 'Programming' refers to and implies your actual or potential ability to affect your mind's control over your behaviour and language, and thereby to 'program' yourself.


Not Our Class Dear. Upper-class, snobbish, derogatory term for something of unacceptable quality. See NTD and PLU.


Not On Normal Courtyard Exercise. A slang prison word for a sex offender, derived supposedly from the term chalked above a culprit's cell door by prison officers, meaning that the prisoner should be kept apart from others for his own safety. Alternatively the acronym came after the word, which was derived as a shortening of 'a little bit of nonsense' being a prison euphemism for the particular offence.


Not One Of Nature's Gentlemen. Excellent term for covert customer service communications. Sarcastic acronym referring to a rude man, as used by various customer-facing roles, eg, nurses, waitresses, call-centre staff, etc.


(k)Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home. As featured on countless thousands of wartime envelopes containing letters to wives and sweethearts back home, sent from military personnel serving abroad, dating back to the early/mid-1900s. See other forces sweetheart acronyms, for example: ITALYSWALKEGYPT, and HOLLAND. NORWICH is also a bacronym for Name One Reason Why I Came Here, used notably by opposing football club fans visiting the city (thanks I Walters).


Not Quite Right. (ODSA) Nurses' shorthand acronym to describe a patient in such condition. An abbreviation applicable the problems we all encounter which defy reliable analysis, and so it's transferable to pretty well all situations beyond the medical world. (Ack Charli)


Not Top Drawer. Upper-class people's expression refering to something of less than acceptable quality. See NOCD and PLU for other snobbish code.


Not Safe For Work. Acronym to warn others (or remind oneself) that the information or content being sent, recommended or revealed is on the wrong side of political correctness or decency, and is liable to adversely affect career progression or even job retention, especially dodgy emails, websites. The acronym is of course transferable to a variety of other high risk behaviours or revelations, for example, certain fashion statements and haircuts; certain stories about your weekend exploits; revealing weird personal facts or accomplishments such as drunken tattoos or body piercings, possessing a huge collection of belly-button fur-balls, etc. The expression has also been applied to people themselves. (Ack C Purdom)


Not To Be Resuscitated. In hospitals in the past one occasionally saw NTBR on patients' notes (thanks G Philp), presumably when life/value expectations were at a low level, and before ambulance chasing lawyers began earning money from medicine and ethics. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I do not believe that such a note, rightly or wrongly, would be seen in modern times in the UK. As a follow-up to this (thanks I Walters) in the US, and so conceivably elsewhere in the world, where a very sick person's 'living will' dictates, the acronym DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) may be written on the patient's chart or notes.


National Television System Committee. Although the video and TV abbreviation is widely used, the meaning and origins are not commonly known. The abbreviation refers to colour television standard developed in the USA decades ago, and still used all over the world, despite its propensity to 'colour drift' (whereby the colour reference signal wanders off-frequency). This tendency gave rise to the amusing alternative derogatory meaning given to the abbreviation (allegedly by boffins at the BBC): Never Twice the Same Colour. (Ack D Harte) See also SECAM and PAL acronyms.


National Vocational Qualification. NVQ's are of course a significant presence in UK training and development. Some people love them, others loathe them. To help understand why this is look at the notes relating to multiple intelligence types and learning styles, also  Kolb's learning styles, and the big section on personality types and models. NVQ's are wonderful for very many people: Several million certificates have been awarded since NVQ's were first introduced in 1986 by the then NCVQ (National Council for Vocational Qualifications - incidentally, since 1997 and as at 2006, NVQ's now come under QCA, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority). But NVQ's don't suit everyone, (kinesthetic learners for example) particularly if delivery and assessment methods make no allowance for folk who not naturally inclined to the structured and strongly administrative bias that NVQ accreditation typically demands. (More explanation about NVQ's will soon appear on this site.) Of the people who are not overly impressed with NVQ's, especially if they happen to feel a little enviously or resentfully towards other people's NVQ achievements, the NVQ acronym has been known (ack O Golamaully) to be interpreted instead to mean Not Very Qualified, which is of course very unfair and is not to be recommended at all - even if the proud new owner of an NVQ level 1 in Paint-Balling is parading it around the office like a Harvard doctorate. (I don't believe there is actually an NVQ in Paint-Balling yet, which is a pity...)


Not Yet Diagnosed - Nervous. British Army Doctor's shorthand from the First World War, used on medical reports of soldiers suffering from shell-shock. Prior to official recognition of the condition, the term GAK (God Only Knows) was used. By December 1916 more than 17,000 British troops were officially diagnosed as suffering from nervous or mental disability (we'd say shell-shock or post-traumatic stress disorder these days), despite which the British military authorities continued to charge and convict sufferers with cowardice and desertion, and sentence to death by firing squad many of those found 'guilty'. In all, between 1914 and 1918, 346 British soldiers (including Commonwealth soldiers serving with the British army) were shot by firing squad. Over 300 of these men received the death sentence for what amounted to being incapable of fighting due to shell-shock and mental illness. The firing squads typically were made up from their own reluctant comrades. Most of the victims were very young men - some even less than the official recruiting age. Many had previously distinguished themselves for many months or years in the most savage conditions ever experienced in warfare. Few if any of the convicted men had proper representation at their 'trials'. Most were informed of their fate a few hours before the execution, even though the decision to carry out their sentence had been made some days or weeks prior, thus appeals were effectively prevented. Relatives were rarely informed prior to the execution and afterwards were refused access to any papers or details, incredibly because permission was required by the condemned man (difficult to believe, but true). Widows were denied normal pensions and rights, and many were ostracized by their communities. Other countries either did not shoot their own soldiers, or have long since issued full pardons, and in many cases have commemorated the victims. Only in 1989 did the British Government agree to release full details of the trials and the circumstances of the executions (on a rolling 75 year basis, so as to reduce the embarrassment and reaction). After decades of lobbying and campaigning by mostly ordinary people, on 16 August 2006, the British Government agreed to pardon 306 of these men (seemingly the number of British soldiers considered shot for 'cowardice' or 'desertion'), subject to ratification by Parliament, which came on 7 November 2006. It's a pity it took so long. The many government ministers who up until this time refused to do the right thing, and worse, who reinforced the 'guilt' of the victims and prolonged the suffering of their families, should search their own souls and learn from their failings. More about this subject is at the deeply disturbing website for the Shot At Dawn Campaign. More is also in the wonderful book 'The Thin Yellow Line' by William Moore, first published in 1974, revised in 1999, and still one of the most stirring accounts of institutional inhumanity and injustice that you will ever read. It took 90 years for this wrong to be reconciled. The story emphasises two things: first, that people in authority have a responsibility to behave with integrity; and second, that where people in authority fail to act with integrity, the persistence and determination of ordinary people will eventually force them to do so. See also the stories page for suggestions of how this all relates to ethics and responsibilities, and the related discussion ideas.


Over Anxious Person. (ODSA) Original doctors' shorthand seen on prescription notes, but applicable far more widely, and an alternative to the conventional Old Age Pensioner interpretation, which I predict will be deemed politcally incorrect within the next few years... OAP is might alternatively and mischievously be interpreted (thanks S McCarthy) to mean On Another Planet. Beware of ageism risks if relating this to the conventional meaning.


Other Buggers' Efforts. This alternative meaning probably began in the British Army (thanks M Jackson) where it was a jibe at senior officers said to have been awarded the OBE by virtue of their troops' work. The usage is transferable to commerce and other walks of life, although of course some OBE's are actually awarded to very worthy and deserving people. Incidentally OBE technically stands for Order of the British Empire, and in years gone by also carried the meaning  One Button Exposed - a reference to a man's open trouser fly (thanks P&J and N Spargo).


Ownership, Business processes, Applications, Systems, Hardware, Infrastructure. A methodology, and related aspect of Business Process Modelling, for mapping and developing how IT systems relate to organisational operations and enterprise, and optimising perfromance as a result. OBASHI seems to have been devised by UK consultants Fergus Cloughley and Paul Wallis in 2001. In October 2009 the name OBASHI was registered in the UK as a trademark, No 2521486 (classes 09, 35, 41, 42), by Cassini Software Ltd, run by Cloughley and Wallis.


Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion/introversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism. The 'Big Five' personality dimensions, by which modern day psychologists believe every person's personality and behaviour tendencies can be measured. Interestingly, between 30% and 50% of the variation between people's measurements in these characteristics are attributable to genetics (ie., 'nature' - inherited genes from ancestors and specifically parents), and the remainder to environmental factors (ie., 'nurture' - the way we have been brought up and our experiences). This means that in terms of the 'nature versus nurture' debate, on average 'nurture' factors have more influence over our personality than 'nature'. That said, certain character traits are more likely to be caused by inherited (nature) than others, and extremely subtle differences exist, for example, propensity to hold serious religious belief is more likely to be genetic (nature) than propensity to have strong political attitudes, and propensity to drink coffee or alcohol is more likely to be genetic (nature) than propensity to smoke tobacco. (Source: Nature Versus Nurture by Matt Ridley)


Original Doctors' Shorthand Acronym. There are lots of them, first used by GP's, consultants, nurses and other healthcare staff as secret coded comments about the patient. These dark and wonderful acronyms are now available for us all to use and enjoy, as most of them are applicable far beyond the medical world. 'ODSAs' are marked as such throughout this archive. (Ack Dr Phil Hammond for many)


O Great Responsible One. Sardonic acronym for committee chair-people, project leaders, department managers, etc., who have delusions of grandeur or difficulties delegating and sharing with their teams. (Ack PS)


Oh Flip I Never Thought Of That. Polite version of the ruder sister acronym of OSINTOT. For project management training, and many other situations that would benefit from improved attention to detail. (Thanks R Jones).


Over-Head Projector. These days a much under-rated piece of equipment, like a pencil and paper, and a flip-chart.


One Income, No Kids Yet. Amusing demographics acronym from the dating industry.


Out Of Office. Out Of (the) Office is one example (thanks Achyuth B) of the many and various meanings represented by this pleasingly elegant acronym, here meaning simply out or not on the workplace site, and so widely seen in diaries, schedules and movement/availability planners. Other examples of OOO meanings include: One-On-One (alternative to 'one-to-one', or '1-2-1', or 'head-to-head' in the sense of a meeting or confrontation between two people), Out Of Order (broken, out of service, or less commonly outside of acceptable standards or formal procedures), Out Of Options (in the sense of having tried and failed to find a solution or way forward), OpenOffice.Org (the excellent open source alternative to MSOffice - see, On Our Own (see also WOOO and  YOYO), Out Of the OrdinaryOf Obscure OriginOptical Optical Optical (a technical term in telecomms switching technology), Obshchestvo S Ogranichennoy Otvetstvennostyu(designation of a Russian limited company, similar to a British Ltd or American LLC, but allowing a maximum of fifty shareholders, beyond which it must become an OAO - Otkrytoye Aktsionernoye Obshchestvo), Object-Oriented Organization/Operation (relating to the complex technical notions of 'objects' in mathematical, computing and other scientific theories, typically seeking to explain, analyse and exploit relationships between entities, functions and processes, etc), and the amusing sports term,  Overly Officious Official. Strangely and sadly, considering the common and varied meanings of OOO there seems to be no term in general use for a four-letter OOOO version, unless you know better...


Oscillating Plumbism. 'Swinging the lead'. Very cleverly sarcastic medical note referring to a patient deemed to be 'swinging the lead' - meaning that the patient's sickness or injury is not genuine, he/she merely has an aversion to work. A plumb is a ball of lead - see swing the lead. (Thanks to the person who sent me this.)


One Recent Child, Heavily In Debt. These people are at Maslow Hierarchy of Needs level 3, so don't try appealing to their level 4 needs. See Maslow.


Oh Shit I Never Thought Of That. Rarely admitted but often thought. Osintot (thanks KT) arises especially in the context of planning and project management of all sorts. The best demonstrations of the Osintot principle are generally provided by leaders and politicians who believe they are somehow immune from its risks, or similarly protected or excused by their chosen god. Obvious sister acronym of OFINTOT (thanks R Jones).


Peer To Peer. Normally expressed fully as 'peer-to-peer', this is an increasingly significant and hugely influential concept, particularly when contrasted with traditional B2C (Business-To-Consumer) business models. Also called C2C (Consumer To Consumer) the P2P term was popularized in the 1990s, first describing computers connected via the internet to each other as mutual servers, to enable file-sharing, most famously for illicit music downloading. Since then the term has come to refer more generally to direct communications or transactions between people considered equals, where no hierarchy or authority or 'middleman' is required, other than the communications/transactions technology. Peer means a person of equal status and derives from Latin 'par' meaning equal. The P2P concept is fundamentally enabled by the internet and related technologies, and threatens/promises to alter dramatically how the world is organized, specifically the nature of major services which have traditionally required a hierarchical/supplier structure, but which now given modern computerized technology, connectivity, and data-handling, arguably no longer require such a processing/coordinating body. Banking and insurance are two obvious examples. Banks traditionally existed because a 'middleman' or agent was required to keep cash securely, and to broker arrangements between lenders and borrowers. Insurance traditionally operates in a similar way, by which brokers underwrite risks, but basically insurance claims are paid from the funds which are created by premiums from those seeking to insure themselves. Peer-to-peer systems effectively cut out the middleman. Advocates and developers of peer-to-peer services typically ask: Why pay for a bank or an insurance company - and for all their infrastructure, running-costs, profits, etc - if the service is instead available direct, peer-to-peer, at a fraction of the cost or for free? P2P concepts now extend to the issuing and operating of currency, to further education, and to major parts of the media, news, music, publishing, etc. The potential of P2P methodology to change the world is considerable. Modern communications technologies - enabling peer-to-peer services of all sorts - are progressively causing traditional 'bricks-and-mortar-based' organizations to become uncompetitive, cumbersome, and obsolete, especially where infrastructure is unnecessarily expensive and/or investors/owners/directors/executives seek unduly high rewards. Just as early 'cottage industry' was effectively wiped out by the Industrial Revolution, we can now anticipate many aspects (and corporations) of traditional commerecial/industrial supply to eventually be rendered obsolete, by a newer more efficient 'nil-corporation' P2P revolution, (which ironically could enable a newly resurgent P2P-connected 'cottage industry mark II').


Parent, Adult, Child. The three alter-ego states defined in Eric Berne's theory of Transactional Analysis. See the Transactional Analysis pages on this site.


Pissed And Fell Over. Healthcare acronym. Applicable in other situations, e.g., excessive indulgence at corporate hospitality events, conferences, weddings, etc. See also FDGB.


Phase Alternate Line. Television standard embraced and popularised by the BBC (not actually 'developed by the BBC', as previously stated here - see note below), as a more stable (self-correcting) technology than NTSC for handling the colour-carrier TV signal, by inverting its 'phase' on every line as the picture is drawn down the screen, (thanks DH). See also SECAM. In the television context PAL has also been given the alternative ironic meaning Pale and Lifeless (thanks R Blunden), and additionally Paid for Added Luxury, which is a reference to the (then) extra cost of the 'delay line' required to make the PAL receiver work, (thanks Mike). Also, unrelated to TV technology, PAL more generally stands for Price/Availability List.

PAL footnote (kindly sent by Jim McDonald): "...PAL, or sometimes Peace At Last, was developed by a German, Walter Bruch, at Telefunken. In essence he adapted NTSC to a 625-by-50 scanning system, and came up with an elegant (if slightly pricey) fix for NTSC's sensitivity to phase distortion. I never had the honor of meeting Mr Bruch, but know people who have and reported him to be a fine person as well as a dedicated engineer, and it is fitting he be credited. Incidentally, SECAM actually predated PAL, in concept at least. It was developed by Henri de France and patented in 1958, 4 years before the PAL patent was awarded to Bruch." (Ack Jim McDonald)


Pressured And Not In Control. Descriptive and useful acronym for all sorts of situations. A reminder also that pressure alone does not produce panic - it's whether you can control it. (Ack G Christie-MacAllan)


Prioritise Activities by Yield. The principle of 'working smart'. The word 'yield' means the result or productive effect of an action or activity. In life and business it's helpful to focus your efforts on tasks and activities that will give the highest return on your efforts. Identify and then work on things that will produce the best yield in your chosen area. When you plan how to spend your time, plan to spend it on efforts that will produce the highest yield according to whatever you are trying to achieve, be that business results, profit, etc, or any other desired impact, effect, benefit, greater good, etc. See also MILE and  MOFMOF, and the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80:20 Rule. (Thanks S Billbess)


Plumbum Oscillans. Very clever mock Latin phrase equating to 'swinging the lead', meaning pretending to be ill, or generally avoiding work by some other means. PbO seemingly first appeared as doctors shorthand on medical notes, and is worthy of far wider use in referring to shirking, work-avoidance, and failing to apply proper conviction to a task. Pb is of course the chemical symbol for the heavy metallic chemical element lead, traditionally used on the end of a string as a 'plumb-bob', to establish a vertical line, or depth/height. (Thanks RW)


Proctodynia By Proxy. (ODSA) Highly amusing healthcare abbreviation to describe a condition suffered by clinical staff. Proctodynia is the medical term for rectal pain, so a patient/colleague who is very demanding/unreasonable is a pain in the backside for the other staff, causing them PBP. The PBP expression is therefore extremely transferable to all types of work, relationship and service situations. (ack ET)


People Can't Memorise Computer Industry Acronyms. Far more amusing and useful alternative abbreviation than the normal IT industry interpretation, which for the record is: Personal Computer Memory Card Interface Adapter. (Ack A Fourie)


Public Display of Affection. Courtesy of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, as quoted in a press interview, circa early 2000, as part of an explanation as to why he can't hug his children. (During his formative years - nor now for that matter - PDA was not the done-thing in the royal household.) PDA is actually very good for the soul, whether you're a royal or not. Try it, you'll like it, and so will the recipient. Alternative meaning - Personal Digital Assistant (a small electronic personal organiser) - which is not nearly so interesting.


Polyester Double-Knit. A derogatory term for someone who is out of fashion, from USA 1980s campus society.


Pretty Damn Quick. Or Pretty Darned Quick. Simple and often effective abbreviation, for accelerating and prioritising projects, activities, requests, etc., actually from the late 1800s. (Thanks MR for reminder)


Pupils Equal And Reacting To Light. Original nurses' shorthand, and a sardonic form of MEGO. A good presenter should never hesitate to subject a bored seminar delegate to the PEARL test. See also PERRLA below.


Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard. One of the great modern acronyms. Usage not restricted to the computer operators - apply to any situation where the human element contributes the weakest link. (ack Don Clark) See also PICNIC, UBAD, DISFOB, and the ID 10 T code.


Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract. Mathematical order of operations (similar to BODMAS). The additional mnemonic 'Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally' can be helpful in remembering PEMDAS. (Thanks A Almaliah)


Paternalistic, Economic, Participative. The three main motivational styles found in organizations and management.


Pupils Equal, Round, Reactive to Light and Accommodate to distance. Technically fuller version of PEARL above, used by nurses and doctors on patients notes.


Program/Programme Evaluation and Review Technique. PERT is a specialised project management method. It is also referred to as Project Evaluation and Review Technique. In a more general and less technical context it might also be called Performance Evaluation and Review Technique. PERT is a specialised project management method, especially in project planning, in which its extensive diagrams enable a very detailed analysis of lots of related activities, especially the timings, implications and opportunities arising from connected events. PERT techniques were probably devised originally in the 1950s by the DuPont corporation (although some sources suggest the General Dynamics Corporation) as a cost/time analysis tool within the broader Critical Path Analysis project planning and management method (also referred to as Critical Path Method/Modelling). PERT was subsequently adopted by the US Navy and refined further, around 1958, supposedly for Polaris submarine development. PERT contains various standardized symbols within its diagram format. The method is not a trademarked or protected concept, although various proprietary systems and applications exist which make use of its principles. PERT remains closely related to Critical Path Analysis, for modelling effects in detail of large numbers of related timed events within a project. PERT is potentially helpful for big complex projects which have crucial deadlines, within which budgets may be more flexible than usual, and where there is a major need to exploit opportunities to shorten timescales by improving the integration of interdependent activities. PERT is a specialised tool within project management and so tends to be used alongside, or as a detailed feed into, broader project management methods.


Political, Economic, Social, Technological. Classic situational analysis headings, guaranteed to prompt nods of approval when used in business presentations. You may see 'Environmental' used instead of 'Economic' depending on the context. Either version is actually a very useful analysis and interpretation tool for business and marketing situations. PEST is sometimes extended to 'PESTELI' in which the headings: Ecological (or Environmental), Legislative (or Legal), and Industry Analysis are added, and other variations. See the free PEST analysis template. See also 'SWOT'.


Pubic Hair Design/Piled Higher and Deeper. Wonderfully mischievous interpretations of the usual PhD meaning of academic excellence and qualification (thanks respectively T Early and L Sarriola). Incidentally the conventional version Doctor of Philosophy is from the literal Latin origin Philosophiae Doctor. The two less serious versions are normally used quite independently of each other in different situations, although together they do have a certain ring, if that's an acceptable word in this context, which it probably isn't.


Problem In Chair Not In Computer. Shorthand of IT technical support staff to describe 'confused' users. Sister acronym to PEBCAK (Ack D Chadwick) See also BDU, ID10T, UBAD, ESO, EBCAD, and DISFOB.


Pride, Integrity and Guts. A reverse acronym (see 'bacronyms') created, it is said, by police in the US as a positive interpretation of the common derogatory reference to their noble profession. There is a lesson here to us all, in always seeking ways to turn negatives into positives. We cannot control how others treat us, but we can certainly control how we respond. (Ack P Caron)


Phew I'm Glad It's Not In My Back-Yard. A type of hypocrite who thinks they sit at the right hand of God, and loudly goes around accusing others of nimbyism (see NIMBY).


Profit Impact of Marketing Strategy. Important reminder of the aim, just in case the marketing effort threatens to disappear up its own rear end.


Persons In Need of Supervision. From the educational and social care sectors. Quite an apt expression for emphasising responsibility and grown-up behaviour. For example, training session syndicate work when groups leave the watchful eye of the facilitator, or for positioning unsupervised tasks and assignments.


Pull It Outa The Air. Think of a number (or a word, or an answer...). For those situations when not a lot of thought is required, or is being exhibited, in trying to come up with an answer or start-point.


Permanent and Irrecoverable State of Alcoholism. (ODSA) Medical acronym used by doctors and healthcare staff to describe patients with serious drink-related problems. (Ack MP)


Pain In The Arse. US version typically is Pain In The Ass. Various uses. (Thanks S Reid)


Person (or Passenger) Intoxicated Through Substance Abuse. Allegedly a London Underground tube system acronym used by certain staff to describe a member of the public found un-conscious or semi-conscious on station premises. The product of the victim's over-indulgence when present on the platform is known colloquially as a 'Platform Pizza', leading to occasional word play with the similarity in the sounds. (Ack A Butler)


Please Let Me Know. An example of an abbreviation designed with the aim of saving time for the writer, but which often turns out to be a false economy when the reader doesn't understand the request. (Ack B Butcher)


Press Lots Of Keys To Abort. Emergency IT acronym. Completely useless yet a widely practised computer trouble-shooting method.


People Like Us. Upper-class reference to describe others who have similar high-class aspirations and standards. See also NTD and NOCD for other semi-secret upper-class coded terms.


Persona Non-Grata. Abbreviation for the ageless Latin term for an unwelcome or disagreeable person, meaning literally 'person not pleasing'. (Ack ED)


Passenger(s) On Board. Primarily a taxi-cab drivers expression used when reporting back to base that they've picked up a fare and have the customer(s) safely aboard (Ack MP). The acronym transfers extremely well to describe certain work teams, and to explain the importance of teamwork (ie., if a team is a 'POB' team, then it contains at least one 'passenger', not contributing as fully as they might be). Also a reminder for team leaders and facilitators of the importance of setting up work teams and syndicate groups for team-building games so that all members of the teams are engaged in the activity (see the team building activities guidelines).

POETS (day)

Push Off Early, Tomorrow's Saturday. Polite version. Original rude version is Piss Off Off Early, Tomorrow's Saturday. Work expression originating in the UK, possibly London, first recorded in the 1970s (Cassells) but likely to be earlier in actual use, referring to Friday. In the UK piss off means go away or leave, as well as annoy. Usage for example would be: "Where is everyone this afternoon?" ...... "Gone to the pub - it's Poets day." (Thanks R Brennan)


Prisoners Of Her/His Majesty. Acronym alleged by some to be the original meaning of the Australian term 'Pom' or 'Pommie' for English folk; (many early English settlers in Australia were deported criminals). Alternatively (ack Gerry) it is shown as POME, interpreted as Prisoner Of Mother England. In fact a common view among etymologists is that pom and pommie probably derived from pome meaning a fruit like apple or pear, and pomegranate (pomme of course is French for apple), and that POHM and POME are retrospectively-arrived-at acronyms, or 'bacronyms'.


Pants Off Legs Open. Teen mating terminology, apparently. I am not aware of this being used in medical or gynaecological circumstances, despite the obvious possibilities. If you know better please tell me.


Position Of Maximum Opportunity. POMO is a very powerful concept. POMO emphasizes that timing and circumstances are critical in many types of decision-making. Specifically POMO reminds us of the importance of optimal conditions in any situation where a person or group wants to take action. This especially relates to business strategy (everything from selling, to business start-up and new product development), in which awareness and decision-making about timing, resources, geography, fitness, readiness, environment, etc., generally have a crucial influence on achieving a successful and sustainable outcome. POMO can be as significant in executing a plan as the quality of the plan/idea itself. See the decision-making process and 'pros and cons' weighting template, which offers an easy way to actually apply POMO in a controlled measurable way. Assessing and using POMO is also greatly aided by tools such as SWOT and  PEST analysis, which suggest the main strategic issues to consider when populating a weighted decision-making template.


Point Of Sale. Retail term, being the physical point at which products are displayed on shelves or paid for at the checkout, as in the EPOS acronym.


Port Out Starboard Home. Again, not really a business acronym, but interesting. The derivation is supposed by many (erroneously probably) to relate to the detail printed on P&O tickets denoting the more expensive cabins on sailings from England to India. See POSH in the clichés origins section.


Priorities, Outcomes, Sequence, Timings, Attendees, Date, Time, Venue. Nothing to do with Eastern Bloc broadcasting, these are the essentials for a good meeting, and what must appear on the agenda. ('Outcomes' meaning required outcomes, ie discussion, decision, etc.)


President Of The United States. Acronym used by Whitehouse staff. See also FLOFTUS.


Point Of View. POV is widely used and a very efficient modern expression (typically in business communications, referring a standpoint or opinion of a person or grouping) to the extent that we can imagine one day 'pov' will be officially recognised for this meaning as a word in its own right. An early or perhaps original use of the POV expression/acronym was in cinematography: a 'POV shot' is one which sees the action from the view of a (usually) central character to the scene. Where a POV shot is taken from the angle of a notional character - as if the viewer is in the scene - it is called a 'nobody POV'. POV angles are common in video gaming too, where the player sees the action as if experiencing it. Unsurpisingly POV filming happens a lot in pornography and has become a genre of its own in that industry. Quite apart from this, POV otherwise stands for Privately Owned Vehicle, and more technically Peak of Operating Voltage, which I guess is just before something explodes or bursts into fire. (Thanks B Carignan)


Product Price Close. The ultimate simplification of the selling process. And yet many still fail to remember even these fundamental steps. (Thanks M Booth)



Purpose, People, Planet, Probity (or Purity or Principles). Four cornerstones of sustainable success and a maxim for modern management and organisational philosophy. (Probity means honesty, uprightness - it's from the Latin word probus, meaning good). 'Purpose' is an apt replacement for 'Profit' and thus makes the acronym appropriate for use in not-for-profit organisations. Profit-focused corporations can of course substitute 'Profit' for 'Purpose'. More detailed explanation of the P4 model of modern leadership. See also Corporate Governance.

businessballs ethical management diagram

PPPP or The Four P's

Product, Price, Promotion, Place. The essential ingredients of the marketing mix, and the start of 75% of all marketing presentations.

4P (also PPPP)

Piss-Poor Prior Planning. Military abbreviation which spawned several variants, see PPPPPP, P6, P7, etc, below.

After an absence of many months, we are proud to present the return of the great Piss-Poor Performance chase...

PPPPPP (aka P6 - and more...)

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Extension of the P4 military abbreviation, eminently transferable to business and life, particularly time management. (Ack AD) See also FUGAZI. Alternatively, and arguably more grammatically elegant (can planning be anything other than prior?...), Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance, which inevitably opens the possibility of a P7 = Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance, or P7 = Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance, which in turn suggests a P8 = Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. P9 = Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Potentially Prevents Piss-Poor Performance, and in the context of training delivery, P10 = Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Potentially Prevents Piss-Poor Presentation and Performance (Ack S Thurlow). Alternatively and more politely P10 = Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Promotes Perfect Performance Preventing Poor Production (Ack P Valee). Now things start to get a bit more serious...

P12: Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Promotes Perfect Performance Preventing Piss Poor Production Processes (Ack M Verpalen).

P14: Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Promotes Perfect Performance Preventing Piss Poor Production Processes and Plummeting Profits (Ack S Spaulding).

P15: Potentially, Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Promotes Perfect Performance Preventing Piss Poor Production Processes and Plummeting Profits (Ack S Shaw).

P16: Potentially, Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Promotes Perfect Pristine Performance Preventing Piss Poor Production Processes and Plummeting Profits (Ack Nick Fox). Sorry, this one has been down-rated I'm afraid from P17 to P16 due to removal of a repeated word..

P17: Potentially, Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Promotes Perfect Pristine Performance Preventing Piss Poor Perfunctory Production Processes and Plummeting Profits (Ack Steve Cuff).

P19: Potentially, Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Promotes and Predicates Perfect Pristine Positive Performance Preventing Piss Poor Production Processes and Perenially Plummeting Profits (Ack Nick Spargo)

P19: Proper Prior Planning and Purposeful Preparation Potentially Promotes Perfect, Pristine and Precise Performance Preventing, Primarily, Piss Poor Production Processes and Plummeting Profits (Ack Andrew McArthur, especially for grammatical assistance), these last three of which combine to produce...

P23: Proper Prior Planning and Purposeful Preparation Potentially Promotes and Predicates Perfect, Pristine, Positive and Precise Performance Preventing, Primarily, Piss Poor Perfunctory Production Processes and Perenially Plummeting Profits. (Ack AM, SC and NS)

P24: Persistent Proper Prior Planning and Purposeful Preparation Potentially Promotes and Predicates Perfect, Pristine, Positive and Precise Performance Preventing, Primarily, Piss Poor Perfunctory Production Processes and Perenially Plummeting Profits. (Ack M Andrews)

P26: Persistent Painstaking Proper Prior Planning and Purposeful Patient Preparation Potentially Promotes and Predicates Perfect, Pristine, Positive and Precise Performance Preventing, Primarily, Piss Poor Perfunctory Production Processes and Perenially Plummeting Profits. (Ack J Crowthers)

P27: Persistent Painstaking Proper Prior Planning and Purposeful Patient Preparation Potentially Promotes and Predicates Perfect, Pristine, Positive and Precise Performance Preventing, Primarily, Piss Poor Perfunctory Production Processes and Perenially Plummeting Profits, Period. (Ack S Vallely)

P29: Persistent Painstaking Proper Prior Planning and Purposeful Patient Preparation Potentially Promotes and Predicates Perfect, Pristine, Positive and Precise Performance Preventing, Primarily, Problematic, Piss Poor Perfunctory Production Processes and Perenially Plummeting Pre-tax Profits, Period(Ack N Elliott)

The stakes are being raised...

P33: Perspicuous Persistent Painstaking Proper Prior Planning and Purposeful Patient Preparation Potentially Promotes and Predicates Perfect Pristine Perspective, and Positive and Precise Performance, Preventing, Primarily, ProblematicPernicious Piss Poor Perfunctory Projects and Production Processes, and Perenially Plummeting Pre-tax Profits, Period. (Ack S Kanive and HSX382, combined)

P36: Perspicuous Persistent Painstaking Proper Prior Planning and Purposeful Patient Preparation Potentially Promotes and Predicates Perfect Pristine Perspective, Principally Presenting Positive and Precise Performance, Perhaps Preventing, Primarily, Problematic, Pernicious Piss Poor Perfunctory Projects and Production Processes, and Perennially Plummeting Pre-tax Profits, Period. (Ack S Thurlow)

P40: Procedural Practices and Protocols Permitting, Perspicuous Persistent Painstaking Proper Prior Planning and Purposeful Patient Preparation Potentially Promotes and Predicates Perfect Pristine Perspective, Principally Presenting Positive and Precise Performance, Perhaps Preventing, Primarily, Problematic, Pernicious Piss Poor Perfunctory Projects and Production Processes, and Perennially Plummeting Pre-tax Profits, Period. (Ack M Glidden)

P49: Procedural Practices and Protocols Permitting, Pondering Pre-emptively and Provisionally Prevailing Preconditions Pertaining to Prosecution of Perspicuous Persistent Painstaking Proper Prior Planning and Purposeful Patient Preparation, Potentially Promotes and Predicates Perfect Pristine Perspective, Principally Presenting Positive and Precise Performance Per se, Perhaps Preventing, Primarily, Problematic, Pernicious Piss Poor Perfunctory Projects and Production Processes, and Probably Perennially Plummeting Pre-tax Profits, Period. (Thanks F Steer and SB)

P50, anyone?...... (Let me know)

The 29 P's of surviving bird-flu..

Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Promotes Pandemic Preparedness, Preventing Piss Poor Performance, Pernicious Pestilence, Pervasive Public Panic, Probable Personal Petulance, Pulmonary Pathogens, Poor Patient Prognosis, Preventable Pain and Poohing your Pants when it all goes Pear-shaped. (Ack I Miller)


Problem, Rectification, Investigation, Correction. Known as the corrective action loop. The essential four stages for good quality management practice, customer service development, quality of service, and general personal development. The main point is that rectifying the problem is only half the story; you need to ensure there is no recurrence.


Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence. A bit of an acronym cheat because 'for' would sound much better than 'in', but PRFDE doesn't have quite the same ring to it. (Courtesy Mr Bull, of the England Rugby Union national team coaching staff.)


PRojects In Controlled Environments. As the UK Office of Government Commerce explains, the PRINCE methodology "...was first developed by the UK government in 1989 as the standard approach to IT project management for central government. Since then, the method has been enhanced (and named PRINCE2) to become a generic, best practice approach suitable for the management of all types of projects, and has a proven record outside both IT and government sectors. PRINCE2 has been widely adopted and adapted by both the public and private sectors and is now the UK's de facto standard for project management..." PRINCE2 aims to enable:

  • consistency of approach
  • control and organisation at all times
  • regular reviews against plan
  • continuing business justification
  • flexible decision points
  • management control of deviations
  • appropriate and timely management and stakeholder involvement
  • effective communications between project and all involved and affected
  • identification of and learning from project lessons
  • options for project management skills improvement for all staff


Previously Undiscovered Recruiting Error. A relatively recent new employee who is not quite working out as expected... Remember - it ain't their fault - it's the organisation which makes the decision to hire, not the candidate.. (Ack R Gesling)


Quasi Autonomous Local Government organization. Younger brother to QUANGO, and not nearly so famous.


QUasi Autonomous Non-Governmental Organization. Now also ironically and alternatively interpreted (ack AM) as Quite Unacceptable And Nasty Government Offshoot. Either way, the QUANGO acronym is now firmly established as a word in its own right. In generations to come, folk will muse over its origins and whether the wrestler of the same name (Johnny Kwango - phonetically the same that is), who used to polish his forehead with a towel before administering his trademark head-but, had anything to do with the term.


Quod Erat Demonstrandum. The literal translation from the Latin is 'which (or what) was to be proved', and in this strict sense the expression has been used in physics and mathematics for centuries. However the QED expression has become more widely adopted in recent times generally meaning 'thus we have proved the proposition stated above as we were required to do', or perhaps put more simply, 'point proven'. Originally QED was used by Greek mathematician Euclid, c.300 BC, when he appended the letters to his geometric theorems. A modern ironic interpretation (thanks N Nasir) is Quite Easily Done.


Quality Function Deployment. Japanese quality and service development model.


RAdio Detection And Ranging. One of the best known acronyms to have entered the language isn't a true acronym at all, but then RDAR doesn't trip off the tongue nearly so well. RADAR also represents the quality management assessment process used in connection with the European Quality Management ModelResults, Approach, Deployment, Assessment, Review.


Running A Business And Doing A Degree. Members of this kind of virtual club (otherwise known as SISA - self-inflicted social abstinence) will recognise the need for such a concept. (Thanks Jane Penson).


Retards Attempting Poetry. Mischievous bacronym poking fun at the rapping art form.


Run Away People Coming. Properly RAPC stands for Royal Army Pay Corps. The mischievous alternative (thanks Malcolm Jackson) reflects the age-old tendency for soldiers close to the action to make fun of those further away from it. Similar dynamics are commonly exhibited and the subject of inter-departmental banter within commercial organizations too, for example between sales and administration functions.


Request For Information. Sales department shorthand. Special priority when use in conjunction with RFN (see below).


Request For Proposal. More sales department shorthand. Also high priority when accompanied by RFN (see above).


Rough Engineering Made Easy. More convenionally the acronym stands for Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. (Ack IB)


Really Here In Name Only. An acronym for when we'd rather be somewhere else, and a reminder for us when arranging activities for others: people usually have other priorities, so respect and make the best possible use of other people's time. See also MEGO, LANO, PEARL.


Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Medical acronym for the treatment of certain leg and foot injuries. I've obviously revealed the meaning now, nevertheless wanted to share the elegant way this was sent to me, a lesson in humorous and succinct communication in its own right: "Following from reading your entry under ASDA, I sprained my ankle and was advised by my doctor to use rice. What, eat it or rub it in? Nope, apparently it's for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation..." (Thanks P Hallums) Two lines, made irresistible to the reader. The power of words and language is fascinating and amazing.


Realization/Realisation, Investigation, Substitution, Embedding. This is a very clear sequential and elegant model for self-development, and a brilliant quick reference model for helping others work towards and achieve personal change and development. Dawn Stanley, a UK-based personal change therapist and counsellor/counselor devised the RISE model and acronym in 2010, and I am grateful for her permission to feature and share it here. Dawn Stanley's RISE method offers a clear, flexible and integrative framework for transformational change. It is a sequential process too, that's very easy to understand and convey. Like many very clever concepts (Google, Twitter, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, the wheel, fire, etc) RISE seems obvious, natural, and logical, now that it has been created. While the RISE model was developed chiefly for personal change therapy and coaching, excitingly its central principles are transferable far more widely, for example to organizational change, team development/improvement, strategic directional changes in business and marketing, parenting, relationships and mediation, sports and fitness coaching, etc. The sequential elements are, and therefore Stanley's 'RISE process' is, as follows:

  1. Realisation - the 'light-bulb moment' - knowing and accepting that change is needed, and committing to it - "knowing you want to change".
  2. Investigation - developing clarity about what, why and how change can happen.
  3. Substitution - out with the old, in with the new - creating conscious change.
  4. Embedding - transformational change - reinforcing the change at unconscious competence level.

(When/if referring to this RISE model please attribute it appropriately. ©RISE Method of Personal Change. Dawn Stanley 2010-12. More information at Dawn Stanley's website. The RISE model complements other personal change concepts very neatly, for example John Fisher's Personal Transition Curve/Theory. RISE sits particularly harmoniously alongside Kirkpatrick's learning evaluation model, and also offers a parallel 'how to' framework for the conscious competence learning model.)


Reasonable? Identify, System, Knowlege. Devised cleverly (by Colin Pitman in 2009, thanks) as a quick checklist/process aid for managing risk in organizations and teaching in this area. The elements enable adaptation for local practices, for example:

  • R - Is it reasonable to classify the issue(s) as a real risk?
  • I - Assuming the risk is reasonable identify its nature, implications, avoidance, and remedial measures.
  • S - Develop a system for this, or incorporate into existing risk systems (e.g., describe, assess, manage, evaluate.. 'DAME' - or alternative system according to local situation.)
  • K - Ensure knowledge of the above is extended appropriately.


Rich Ordinary Briton. Demographic acronym, wealthy people who regard themselves as 'working class', according to the Future Foundation, accounting for 2.67m of the UK population (May 2006), and the top 20% according to monetary worth.


Return On Investment. Fundamantal measure of business performance (of a whole business, a part of a business, a business activity or decision - anything with a cost and attributable profit). See the explanation in the Financial Terms section.


Retired Old Men Eating Out. A simple acronym which helps tell a very big story. The acronym is commonly credited to Tom Brokaw in his 1998 book The Greatest Generation (Thanks G Thompson), although the term and the custom surrounding the concept of 'Retired Old Men Eating Out' (alternatively Rich or Respectable Old Men Eating Out, or Enjoying Outings) seems to pre-date this, indeed a growing 'Romeo Club' sub-culture exists in the US and is bound to increase and spread in one form or another everywhere given demographic projections (many people living longer, getting richer, and being more active and useful in later years). The big story lies in the social and economic implications of the Romeo phenomenon, which are actually considerable and potentially very positive, if ways can be found for rich/retired old men (and women) to help a little with the next and needy generations. This challenge of 'generational utilization' is now one of the greatest opportunities for humankind - whereby people can (must) achieve greater fulfilment in old age, while and through sharing wisdom, experience and maybe even a bit of wealth too with others where it's needed. Generational transfer of knowledge and help has always been significant in human evolution. Interestingly some assert that this effect (and benefit) was responsible for the evolution of the female menopause (women who lived longer because they could no longer bear children ensured improved survival of their descendents and therefore their genes). In modern times however humankind benefits not just by people living longer, but also by the better availability of knowledge and practical help - first through books, and now through the internet, which will (and must) provide progressively improving connections and inclusiveness for generational teaching and learning.


Roll On Roll Off. Originally and still a type of cross-channel ferry, whereby cars and trucks board one end and disembark at the other. Now more widely applied to any form of relatively indiscriminate and fast-turnaround no-nonsense high-volume human processing method (eg., NHS dentists, general practitioners, Spanish holiday tattoo parlours, etc.)


Rolling On The Floor Laughing And... Internet and texting abbreviation prefix with too many variations to mention here, aside from two of the better examples: ROTFLABIC = Rolling On The Floor Laughing And Biting Into Carpet, and ROTFLAPIMP = Rolling On The Floor Laughing And Peeing In My Pants.


Resale Price Maintenance. The UK Net Book Agreement, as was. Means by which retail prices are controlled by primary suppliers. (Alternatively, Revolutions Per Minute, as in engine speed and 78, 33 and 45 records. In years to come how many people will know that LP stood originally for Long Player?)


Repondez S'il Vous Plait. Properly in French: Répondez s'il vous plaît - meaning 'please reply', RSVP is traditionally printed on invitations to weddings and parties, etc., as a request for the recipient to reply. Literally translated as 'reply if it you pleases', or more recognizably, 'reply please', since 's'il vous plait' has long meant 'please' in French, literally from the earlier full construction of 'if it pleases you'. See more about RSVP in the cliches origins page. (Thanks MK for raising RSVP, and thanks C Smith for spelling and diacritical corrections.)

RRR ('the 3Rs')

Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic. 'Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic' is the modern interpretation, also shown as "Reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic". The abbreviation has at times been interpreted using different words, for example 'Reckoning', and 'Reasoning' have been used to represent numerical/logical capabilities. Later below in this item you will see other alternatives. 'The three Rs' - or 'The 3 Rs' - is a fascinating abbreviation. The 'The Three Rs' is very widely used in referring to young people's education, specifically nowadays a focus on literacy and numeracy (language and numbers). 'The Three Rs' abbreviation works very well because its quirky phonetic interpretation (based on the R sounds, rather than the initial letters) makes it far more memorable than the strict abbreviation of 'Reading, Writing, Arithmetic' - RWA - which obviously is not memorable at all. The 'mismatched' abbreviation also has an ironically amusing quality given its educational and grammatical context. More interestingly however... 'Reading' and 'Writing' both refer to literacy, and given the extreme rarity of people of any age who are awful at reading and brilliant at reading, or vice-versa, it seems strange that such a well-used term could carry such a duplication of effort in its meaning. There is perhaps an explanation, and within the explanation maybe a little enlightenment: Commonly, the education of young people (UK particularly) adopts a very strong literacy/numeracy focus, with the consequence that much lower emphasis is placed on the value of capabilities in other areas, notably 'making and designing things', such as artworks and all manner of physical and mechanical things. 'Making and designing things' also entails the need to understand: 'how things work'; 'what are things made of'; 'what happens if?..'; 'using my hands'; 'using tools'; 'experimenting with ideas'; 'fixing and mending things'; 'how problems have been solved in the past'; 'how problems can be solved in future', 'materials'; 'how things are manufactured and produced'; 'what things cost'; 'durability and value'; 'physics'; 'chemistry'; 'biology and the natural world'; 'safety and first-aid'; 'waste and the environment'; 'recording results'; 'measuring things', and countless other aspects of human learning and development and capability and potential, which today's 'The Three Rs' largely completely ignore. (Again in the UK, and probably lots of places elsewhere too) this is interesting because the UK seems for some while (according to general commentaries and reports) not to have enough engineers and scientists and craftsmen/women, and to have lost its once-vast manufacturing pride and industrial base. Also there seem to be lots of young people who pass through the education system and do not do well at 'The Three Rs', and who do not go on to university, and who do not seem to do very well in life as a whole. Some of these people (having been told throughout their school years that they are useless at 'The Three Rs') not surprisingly become disillusioned and later fail to find work, or worse turn to crime, producing a considerable social and economic burden. So something is wrong and people wring their hands and wonder why.... Well, actually, a long time ago young people were taught a great deal more about 'making and designing things' than they are today. Young people who were natural makers and designers (many of whom were not naturally good at 'The Three Rs') could then grow in confidence, doing things that they were good at and enjoyed doing, and so develop self-esteem, and value, personally and to society, as makers, designers, or tradespeople, or scientists or engineers, or teachers of other kids who were naturally good at 'making and designing things'. Interestingly, and again not surprisingly, 'The Three Rs' hasn't always stood for 'Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic'. One of the superfluous literacy Rs stood alternatively for 'Wroughting' and/or 'Wrighting'. 'Wroughting' is an old word for shaping and forming things with a hammer, as in wrought iron, which later came to mean 'making things' generally, derived earlier from old English meaning work. The word 'wrighting' also means making things, or building things, and designing and manufacturing things too, as in the word shipwright - a builder of ships. This word derives from old English, wryhta, from Germanic, wyrhta, also meaning work. And so maybe a new more progressive modern-day interpretation of 'The Three Rs' should be one which is probably not new at all, attributed seemingly first to a politician and one-time Lord Mayor of London, Sir William Curtis in 1795, namely: 'Reading and writing, Reckoning and figuring (aRithmetic), and wRoughting and wrighting' - in short perhaps: Reading, wRroughting, and aRithmetic.


Read The Flipping Manual. Original computer-speak that has now established itself in everyday language and is used to point out the obvious solution to anyone complaining that they are unable to operate a modern-day appliance such as TV, burglar alarm, dishwasher, etc) using purely intuitive methods. (Thanks to L Lawrie and many others for pointing out this omission.)


Read The Question Twice. A very useful reminder for text-based exams of all sorts, notably multiple choice tests, to help avoid making silly mistakes when the answer is known but given incorrectly due to rushing and misreading the question. (Thanks D Ward)


Read The Flipping Question Twice. Polite version of more emphatic twist on RTQ2, which is perhaps appropriate for folk who require telling twice. Where the answer is not known, no matter how many times you read the flipping question, the WAGtactic is a reasonable option. (Thanks A Wilkins)


Rich Urban Biker. Another amusing demographics social category acronym. See also GLAM, HOPEFUL, DINKY, ORCHID, etc


Skills, Strategy, Structure, Style, Systems, Staff, Shared values. The McKinsey organizations's famous 7S model for organizational culture, analysis and development. The idea is that the first six S's combine to form the seventh: 'shared values' (Ack S Dockerill)


Same Stuff Different Day. Toned down version. This motto of the downtrodden has been around for decades. If your work really makes you feel this way then perhaps it's time to suggest a few changes or move on. We are all here on this Earth only once (depening on your religious outlook) - whatever, life is too short to waste it doing a job that you hate. And if you are managing people who feel S2D2 about their jobs then for goodness sake do someting about it. A free SSDD colour poster is available from the free businessballs posters page for anyone suffering in a S2D2 organisation and wishing to give a bit of free feedback to the hierarchy. And if you are a CEO and see a few SSDD posters appearing around the place then perhaps ask yourself why. It's not the people who are bad - it's the organisation, and that's down to you mate. The S2D2 mathematical acronym interpretation may well have first been suggested by author Tom Clancy (Ack V O'Grady and L D Gray) - if you know more please contact us.


Such A Bad Experience, Never Again. This now widely applicable acronym was seemingly pioneered by Belgian people, referring, in English interestingly, to the Belgian Sabena airline company (which for the record was properly titled 'Societe Anonyme Belge d'Exploitation de la Navigation Aerienne'). See also DELTA. (Ack Anon and M) Other airline-based acronyms.


Self Adjusting Balls Up. The problem will work itself out (thanks F Lawton). The acronym reminds us that many crisis situations become less of a crisis given time and tolerance.


Single And Desperate For A Baby. Modern demographics acronym, reflecting changing times. The world is becoming a lonelier place seemingly.


Suburban Asset Lightweight. Demographic acronym, representing not so well-off people who regard themselves as 'middle class', according to the Future Foundation, accounting for 1.84m of the UK population (May 2006), and the bottom 20% according to monetary worth.


Stupid Ass Test(s). Ironic and wholly understandable misinterpretation of the many different possible 'correct' original meanings of the SAT/SATs acronym, referring to the controversial testing systems in school-children's education, US and UK, particularly so in the UK. In America the SAT testing system has been known by various full names, beginning with Scholastic Aptitude Test, changing later to Scholastic Assessment Test, and now (2009) seemingly called the SAT Reasoning Test, in which the actual meaning of the 'SAT' element seems no longer defined, and technically produces a full term containing the word 'Test' two times, for example 'Scholastic Assessment Test Reasoning Test', nonsense deliciously ironic given the context. In the UK the situation is even more confusing, both in terms of the meaning of the SAT acronym, and aptly, the meaning and value of the entire testing regime, which has done for a generation of British children what our great leaders have in the same period for world peace (see FUCT). No one seems to know why SATs are so called in the UK. Possible origins include Standard Assessment TasksStatutory Assessment TestsStandard Attainment Tests, and Standard Assessment Tests, and any of the several US interpretations which perhaps provided the misguided inspiration for the wonderful UK notion that it is possible to improve something merely by measuring the hell out of it. Aside from all this, the abbreviation SAT has probably one of the longest lists of various possible different meanings of all TLAs. Other SAT acronyms may refer to, for example: Science And Technology - Sorry About That - Substance Abuse Treatment - Self-Assessment Test/Tool - Systems Approach to Training - Security Awareness Training - Site Acceptance Test/Testing (thanks DC, see also FAT) - Surgery, Anesthesiology and Trauma - Suspended Acoustic Tile - and many more. The lesson is to seek clarification whenever you see the acronym used, because it could mean just about anything.


Syndicat des Constructeurs d'Appareils Radiorécepteurs at Téléviseurs. It must be said that this acronym is here for interest rather than humour. It's a good quiz question, especially if you insist on the accents over the letter e's. It's also an example of an acronym entering everyday language whose origins are unknown by 99.99% of the population. A SCART cable or lead is of course the 21-pin device for linking TV and audio and video equipment, developed from the French standards group represented by the root words above, (thanks M Andrews). Alternatively (thanks H Jones) one of the more amusing ironic translations of SCART is Something Clever And Really Technical.


Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Classic acronym now established as a word in the language, and another good acronym for quizzes, (ack KBS). A wonderful contribution from Tim Boyd suggests an amusing alternative SCUBA interpretation, from a diving instructor in Hawaii, who suggests that the 'real' meaning of SCUBA is Swimmer Comes Up Barely Alive, which is a lot more fun than the technical origin. The diving instructor apparently trades as 'Charlie Dolphun'. Anyone able to shed any light on his true identity for proper attribution please let me know.


Substitute, Combine, Add/Adapt, Modify/Maximize/Minimize, Put to other uses, Eliminate, Rearrange/Reverse. Useful model/process for brainstorming and creative/problem-solving activities. (Thanks A Almaliah)


Shape, Colour, Registration, Identifying features, Make & model. Acronym for identifying vehicles involved in incidents, used by UK forces and services staff.


Systeme Electronique Couleur Avec Memoire. The French virtual-equivalent to the UK-originated PAL TV broadcast standard, alternatively and amusingly known as System Essentially Contrived (from the) American Method, or perhaps more fittingly as System Essentially Contrary (to the) American Method, both probably originating from early US TV engineers who developed the forerunning US NTSC standard. The notion that the SECAM system probably owes less to the Americans than to the British method is lost, since although 'Anglican Method' fits the acronym more accurately, it would have entirely different connotations.... (Ak DH and Mike)


Someone Else's Problem. Originally from Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy; now in wider use: eg., customer service applications, inter-departmental negotiations as to ownership of issues and follow-up, etc. (Ack P Resheph)


Ship High In Transit. This is a hoax bacronym which somebody somewhere created a while ago around which is built a convoluted story supposedly but entirely wrongly claiming to account for the etymology of the 'shit' swear word. See the shit entry in the cliches and words origins page. Alternatively (thanks A Smith) SHIT is an amusingly ironic bacronym in the business and training world standing for Special High Intensity Training.


Should Have Ordered This In Time. Customer services and despatch expression, especially appropriate approaching department close-down for weekends, holidays, Christmas, etc., and a personal reminder not to leave things until the last moment.


Sexual Intercourse At Midnight. Acronym bedfellow, so to speak, of BURMA, (thanks A Sanderson). Completely unrelated to the acronym interpretation, Siam is now Thailand (since 1939), and was birthplace (and thereby terminology derivation) of the original Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker (1811-74), brothers joined at the chest and by a fused liver. Interestingly Chang and Eng remained joined until their death, which was within hours of each other; apparently Eng woke one morning to discover Chang had died in the night, and Eng died of shock as a result, after refusing to be separated. It's easy to write and read casually about this now, but can you imagine the traumatic scene? Very strange. More intriguingly they both married (two different women) and fathered respectively ten and eleven children. Seemingly after a few initial relationship problems they sustained their respective marriages by alternating joint attendance (excuse the pun) between their two homes (and wives) every three days. Perhaps fewer modern marriages would fail if more people tried this sort of arrangement.


Standard IDiot test. A risk reduction technique vital to the process of producing good instructions and user manuals, etc., whereby a non-expert layperson is shown the (proposed) instructions for a particular operation, to check whether the instructions actually enable understanding of the task/procedure and achievement of the desired result. SID checks should for example be part of the development of instructions for flat pack furniture, computer systems, and increasingly complex household equipment like TVs. Ignoring the need for a SID check tends to result in lots of impossible treeswings, square-wheeled bikes, and very many frustrated users/customers. Standard Idiot Test obviously translates as SIT, but SID is a more fun. The acronym is also a useful analogy for any initiative which would benefit from practical testing instead of relying on theoretical assumption. (Thanks A Allen)


Subscriber Identification Module/Subscriber Identity Module. The former is the exact technical origin according to the OED. This is the little-known full meaning of SIM, as in SIM card. Also SIM is text-speak for Sorry I'm Late, and more amusingly/disgustingly, (having a little) Sick In Mouth, as when burping or nearly vomitting.


Safety Is No Accident. Acronym of the clever double-meaning maxim from USA industry for health and safety training and promotion. (Ack P Lock)


Single Income No Boyfriend And Desperate. Demographics acronym from the Bridget Jones era. (Ack. John)


Solution In Need Of A Problem. Acronym describing any pointlessly over-engineered gadget, system or service for which no real or meaningful demand exists: a sledgehammer to crack a nut, or a sales-centred approach to relationships. SINOAP represents push and persuade, rather than facilitate and enable; it reminds us of the importance of understanding and empathy. SINOAP is a also product or service designed from the supplier's perspective rather than from the customer's view. The acronym warns against inappropriate marketing or selling, where the proposition fits the supplier's or sales-person's needs (for profit, sales quota, commission, etc) but not the needs of the potential customer. (ack J Tallon)


Sign In Sod Off. An acronym said to be used by certain British MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) in referring to their £180 daily attendance expenses allowance system. If true this is indeed nice work if you can get it, although the likelihood is that most MEPs and MPs are good people doing a good job. I would welcome clarification, confirmation, or denial of this slur on the integrity of those who presume to represent us. Aside from the MEP rumour, SISO is an excellent illustration of the attitude displayed by certain people (often in fortunate positions) who are more interested in what they can take from work than give to it. The uproar over UK parliamentary expenses (May 2009) demonstrates well that usually chickens one day come home to roost, and that whether such behaviour is human nature, within the rules, or largely a fuss created by schadenfreude-obsessed media - there is usually a personal price to pay for a monetary or material gain which has been extracted in less than wholly ethical ways. Karma - or we might say, the natural inevitable law of cause and effect - bites yer bum.


Single Income Two Children Oppressive Mortgage. For consumer customer profiling, Maslow Hierarchy of Needs examples, etc. Sitcom, meaning situation comedy, is in itself a 'made-up' portmanteau word (ack Noor). Alternatively SITCOM might be interpreted more desperately as Single Income Three Children 0 Money (thanks B Gardiner).


Spending the Kids' Inheritance. Antidote acronym to KIPPERS. (Ack JW)


Service Level Agreement. A remarkably simple and effective mechanism for ensuring good working or trading relationships, typically between customer and supplier, but also between departments, partners or any parties co-operating to achieve a consistent result. A Service Level Agreement establishes mutually understood and acceptable expectations between two or more parties, for instance, quotation request response times; breakdown service response time; chargeable and non-chargeable support items. SLA's are useful also in establishing co-operation between departments, in order to maintain quality, efficiency and supply chain or order flow service quality, for instance complaint escalation timescales; survey requests; pricing requests, anything where one party expects something of another. There is no limit to the number of SLA's that can be established, although recording and publishing them in a sensible format are essential or they won't be observed. (SLA also stands for Strategic Link Analysis, the process which measures a website's search engine rating by virtue of the number and type of links to it from other websites.) See also trading agreements and templates.


Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time. An amusing, informal and critical reference, used mainly when summarising a misguided or poorly managed venture. Typically found at the end of written reports, or heard uttered in hand-wringing disaster review meetings, about actions, events, initiatives, etc., which are subsequently found to be ineffective, damaging, embarrassing, etc. The acronym originated sometime towards the end of the 20th century. As an example and training pointer towards planning/management ineptitude, the expression sits very nicely alongside the famous 'Six Phases of a Project' ironic model of organizational incompetence, and the wonderful OSINTOT acronym. (Thanks M Fletcher)


Social, Legal, Economic, Political, Technological. 'SLEPT analysis' is a business review method similar to PEST or SWOT for assessing factors enabling or obstructing the business's performance, and typically its development potential.



Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-bound. If you're setting a standard, or an objective for yourself, or agreeing an objective with another person, the task or standard must meet these criteria to be effective. The same applies to communications which urge some sort of action or change by the audience/listener/reader. See for example the SMART planner template, for which more detailed explanation exists on the delegation page. Other interpretations of the SMART acronym exist, for example Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. The version which includes 'agreed' is arguably more powerful because this represents the emotional contract with whomever is expected to meet the objective or standard. The SMARTER version below is more powerful and relevant for the moden world because it includes the essential philosophical aspect. Avoid interpretations that include both Achievable and Realistic because the words effectly mean the same so is a waste of a word. (See the Smartie Hunt team building game and MMM acronym.) See the different SMART and SMARTER posters on the posters page. Other words are used for depending on the situation, listed in the SMARTER entry. The SMART acronym/model is often very effective in conjunction with the AIDA communications model.



Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-bound, Ethical, Recorded. The deluxe version of the SMART acronym, a blueprint for all objectives and responsibilities, especially delegation, for oneself or when agreeing objectives, tasks and projects with others. Traditional interpretations of the SMARTER acronym use 'Exciting' or 'Enjoyable' instead of 'Ethical', but in a delegation context, let's face it, it is not always possible to ensure that all delegated work is 'exciting' for the recipient. Whereas the 'Ethical' aspect is fundamentally important for everything that we do, assuming you subscribe to such philosophy. See the different SMART and SMARTER posters on the posters page. Other words may be substituted depending on the situation, although if doing so consider the need to avoid overlapping or duplicated meanings, for example Achievable is arguably the same as Realistic in this context, and so it's not sensible to include these two words together in the same rendition the acronym's meaning. Other words occasionally substituted include: Significant, Simple, Stretching; Meaningful, Motivational, Manageable; Attainable, Achievable, Appropriate, Actionable, Ambitious, Assignable, Action-oriented; Relevant, Results-focused/oriented, Resourced, Rewarding; Time-framed/based, Timely, Timed, Timetabled, Trackable, Tangible; Evaluated, Enjoyable; Rewarded, Rewarding.


Small to Medium Enterprise/Small and Medium Enterprise(s). A term widely used in the UK and English-speaking Europe, and notably institutions such as the World Bank and European Union, SME refers to a business of (loosely) up to 250 employees and a turnover up to £10-50m or Euros. The term is often pluralised - SMEs - equating logically to Small and Medium Enterprises. The terminology is popular among business executives, marketing folk, politicians and economists. Marketing people use the term a lot in referring to targeting and profiling of market sectors, and in reporting commercial statistics and performance. From a marketing and advertising perspective, the SME market sector is notoriously difficult to target, measure and reach, because it is vast, highly fragmented, fast-changing, and relatively poorly analysed and reported, even within a single vertical sector. In other words, not much is known about the precise composition of the SME market, especially compared with the large corporate market, which requires far more data about the corporations (size, structures, activities, personnel, financials, etc) to be made public and transparent. In 2012 various European standard-makers began considering more precise and consistent definitions for the SME term, aimed at defining levels within the SME range, typically called: 'micro-businesses' (loosely up to 10 employees), 'small businesses' (loosely up to 50 employees), and 'medium-sized businesses' (loosely up to 250 employees). In the US the term is usually SMB - Small and Medium Business(es). The German equivalent is 'mittlestand' (which also refers to a family-owned business). Terminology and definitions vary in many countries outside of Europe, so it is rather difficult to imagine a time when SME/SMB means precisely the same thing all around the world.


Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration (and logistics), Command (and signals/communications). This is an excellent well-established model for task/project management used by the military, and is very transferable and useful elsewhere. It is a proven process for delegating and managing a task or project, especially involving a large group of people in different locations, with complex resources and system support. SMEAC offers an additional (and potentially bigger) approach alongside the SMART delegation models. See also delegation. In more detail, SMEAC is:

  • Situation - Consider, interpret, convey all relevant background information - often useful to cover 'why'.
  • Mission - Clarify aim or purpose of the action - 'what' are we trying to achieve? - ideally including some measurable targets/outcomes/deliverables.
  • Execution - Decide and define how the action/project is to be performed - - keyword is 'how' - the strategic and tactical methods, process, responsibilities.
  • Administration and logistics - Establish organizational systems for recording and managing information, resources and activities - and ensure all supporting materials and equipment are planned and available when and where required.
  • Command and signals/communications - Crucially this element details the responsibilities and connections, especially communications methods, from leadership, to and through managerial and team-leading roles, to enable effective coordination and group understanding, awareness, and successful working to achieve the stated aim. (Thanks M Green)


Simple Matter Of Programming. SMOP (acknowledgements to D Hall) is typically used in an IT or ITC context, but the principle extends widely: SMOP is a deserved dig at those who make commitments while ignoring the implications (workload) arising for other people. For example when a project manager casually tells a customer "Oh, that's just a Simple Matter Of Programming," when in fact the commitment entails considerable work for the programmer, who has not even been consulted and must then somehow absorb the additional work into normal hours. SMOP is a more impactful acronym than the full OTJASMOP (Oh, That's Just A Simple Matter Of Programming), although the long version does have a certain ring to it if you can remember it. SMOP - or OTJASMOP - is also a common tendency among sales people (or those acting in that role, like interfering CEOs), who, eager to clinch a deal or to satisfy a complaint, make promises which cause a lot of extra work for someone else in the delivery team which is not budgeted or recoverable. In such cases SMOP might be adapted - and can serve as an excellent illustration of negligence and poor decision-making in communications, management, etc., for example:

  • SMOR - "Oh that's just a Simple Matter Of Re-engineering/Re-design/Re-wording/etc.."
  • SMOP - "Oh that's just a Simple Matter Of Process/Production/Procedure/etc.."
  • SMOD - "Oh that's just a Simple Matter Of Definition/Delivery/Distribution/Discipline/etc.."
  • SMOCTS - "Oh that's just a Simple Matter Of Changing The Specification/Schedule/.."
  • SMOCAFS - "Oh that's just a Simple Matter Of Cracking A Few Skulls.." (the autocrat's maxim)
  • SMOPWAFF - "Oh that's just a Simple Matter Of Playing With A Few Figures.." (the banker's maxim)


Short Messaging Service/Short Message Service. SMS (texting) generally refers to the sending of text messages from one mobile phone to another mobile phone or several other phones. The meaning of the SMS abbreviation seems obvious when you know it, but as with many common abbreviations, many people don't know or remember the derivation and would struggle to guess. It's a loose term however and is liable to alter in reach and application over time. For example text messaging which connects mobile telephony with computer/internet is also called SMS. This is ironic given that (probably) the first ever 'SMS text message' was sent by computer to a phone, not phone to phone (the famous "Merry Christmas" message, Neil Papworth [Sema Group, later Mavenir Systems] to Richard Jarvis [Vodafone] in 1992, UK). The merging of television and smartphone/computer/internet technologies inevitably further broadens possible use of SMS technology and its describing terminology. Incidentally SMS texting provides a wonderful analogy for explaining and teaching business/product/market development, notably its unpredictable and uncontrollable nature: During the early 2000s SMS text messaging became the most widely used electronic 'data application' in the world. The (2012 approximate) numbers are hard to imagine: over 200,000 messages every second; over 12 million every minute; about 20 billion every day; and between 6-7 trillion in a year, producing revenues for the phone companies of more than $120bn per year, which is in the region of the gross domestic product of a country such as Vietnam, Hungary, Iraq, New Zealand, or Ukraine. The lesson for business development and marketing people is that nobody saw a remote possibility for such a vast industry when the technology was first devised and made available. What made it happen, despite its basically very clumsy and limited functionality, was millions of people who found it useful. There was no advertising, no flashy branding or packaging; it just grew. It will grow even more in the shape of Multimedia Message Services (MMS), which will become another very big story no doubt.


Situation Normal - All Fouled Up. Obviously this is the more polite version, included here because of its historical interest. The acronym is from the second world war, when widely used by the Americans forces, and incidentally later used as name by 1970s UK rock band, SNAFU, obviously (incidentally the 1970s band was British not American as previously stated here - thanks for correction M Reynolds). SNAFU Remains a widely used description by front-line staff of an incompetent management. See the wonderful wall picture showing the SNAFU and AEOBE acronyms.


Sensitive New-Age Guy. Demographics acronym and dating term.


Sub-Normal Even For Norfolk. Medical notes shorthand. Other counties/towns are routinely substituted. An adapted extension of NFN. (Thanks RW)


Snot-Nosed Egotistical Rude Teenager. Demographics acronym of sorts.


Situation, Opportunity, Action, Result, (Reflect). Action-based mnemonic with sound principles. Apparently favoured by the Royal Mail. (Ack M Andrews)


Shortness Of Breath/Souls On Board. The nursing/healthcare acronym SOB, meaning Shortness Of Breath, is a commonly used medical abbreviation when writing patient histories. I am informed (thanks DC) that the abbreviation is also occasionally doubled-up for amusing effect to describe a particularly obnoxious patient with the complaint, i.e., SOB - SOB, on the basis that SOB additionally and more crudely means Son Of a Bitch. Quite separately SOB represents the international standard maritime and aeronautical term Souls On Board, which in the context of safety/accountability/emergencies, has for many years been the official terminology for the total number of people, including all passengers and crew, on board the vessel. The use of the word 'souls' originated in the maritime industry, where 'Save Our Souls' - derived from the morse code distress signal SOS - is an earlier long-standing term, originating around 1905. While 'souls' is seemingly an archaic term, it is commonly and logically suggested that 'souls' remains the best word for reliably and consistently referring to the number of people on board, because other word possibilities (people, passengers, bodies, persons, etc) may have confusing or different technical meanings, moreover 'souls' is the quickest shortest word and code option.


Senior Officer's Good Idea. Sardonic and amusing acronym from the military and emergency services. (See also WAGII - thanks Mick Whelan)


Small Office/Home Office. Acronym expression for the 'virtual office' environment and characteristics found in self-employed and small businesses, that are increasingly prevalent in the modern business age.


SOund NAvigation and Ranging. The SONAR acronym, which typically describes anti-submarine underwater detection technology, originated as an American term in World War II. The SONAR acronym, a natural sister expression to RADAR (neither is strictly a true acronym, more an abbreviation) like RADAR entered the language as a word in its own right many years ago. The British equivalent of SONAR, was ASDICS, which stood for Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee. It is easy to see why the SONAR version was preferred.


Say Only Nice Things To All People. Devised originally for school-children, this acronym touches on a fundamental principle for peace of mind and a happy fulfilled life. See particularly The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (agreement 1 - Be impeccable with your word), also links to Buddhism, NLP, etc. (Ack Anstey Latimer School)


Save Our Souls. The traditional international distress signal - a request for help in an emergency - originally transmitted in morse code by mariners in peril, later extending in use to endangered folk anywhere (for example scratching 'SOS' in the sand if marooned on an island, or spelling 'SOS' in stones, clothes, etc., on a mountainside). The SOS protocol became increasingly standardized internationally from about 1905. SOS was actually first established as the morse code signal ...---... [expressed in words] 'dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot', or 'dit dit dit dah dah dah dit dit dit') because the code signal was quick, simple, and distinctly recognizable. The 'Save Our Souls' meaning was applied afterwards, and has alternatively less correctly been interpreted as 'Save Our Ship'. The SOS signal was replaced as the international standard in 1999 by a vastly more complex and relatively incomprehensible computerized system called Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (producing the very dry abbreviation GMDSS). For separate interest see also the 'Mayday' emergency call word origin, and  SOB (Souls On Board).


Situation analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action, Control. SOSTAC® is a business marketing planning system developed by writer and speaker PR Smith in the 1990s. A summary of the SOSTAC® model is here. Contrary to popular thinking, SOSTAC® is a protected trademark owned by the originator PR Smith, whom you can find at As with any protected intellectual property the use of SOSTAC® methods and materials in the provision of training and development is likely to be subject to licensing conditions. If in doubt ask the IP owner. (Thanks PR Smith and T Rowe)


Stupid Pathetic Annoying Messages. A reverse acronym for the modern age, here the word spam refers to unwanted bulk messages or postings typically via internet technology. The original SPAM®, a trademarked canned meat product, is much earlier, named in 1937 following a competition run by its makers, Hormel Foods. Hormel corporation apparently have said in the past that SPAM® stood for Shoulder of Pork and Ham, which is contrary to the popular myth that SPAM® derives from Spiced Meat and Ham. The SPAM® name has attracted numerous more amusing and sarcastic reverse acronyms over the years, such as Something Posing As MeatSpare Parts Animal MeatSpecially Processed Artificial Meat; and Stuff, Pork and Ham. There is perhaps no greater accolade than its modern association with today's communications, although considering what we all think of spam in this sense, perhaps not. (Thanks P Methvin)


Statistical Process Control. Forerunning quality theory from the 1960s to TQC and TQM.


Silly People Expect Computers To Replace Useless Managers. At the time (16 Apr 2010) of adding this clever bacronym (thanks Barry Johnson, Shene Training) this particular interpretation seems not to be known on the web, although Barry tells me he heard it on a training course several years ago, so it's not new. The sentiment is nevertheless very apt for the modern age - training is usually the best way to strengthen management capability, not mindless systems and computerisation. The word Spectrum itself is a strong clue that the acronym was devised in the earlier days of the computer revolution: the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, launched in 1982, was the first UK colour home computer, and along with the Commodore 64 and models from BBC and Amstrad, effectively moved personal computing into the mainstream and everyday work. Incidentally the basic ZX Spectrum machine had a 16KB RAM. It was called Spectrum because it offered a colour display. Sinclair, founded by Sir Clive Sinclair, also designed and launched the not-so-successful C5 electric car-scooter; a lesson that innovation is not a perfect science. Please tell me if you know the origin of this acronym.


Single Person Evaluation Worksheet. A timesheet, in other words. Sarcastic term for a list of activities and times, etc., that you have to submit to justify your existence within an organisation. (Thanks R Oakley)


Situation, Problem, Implication, Need. One of the most enduring selling acronyms, developed by Neil Rackham during the 1970s-80s; the SPIN® Selling model remains a mainstay of the (UK/US) Huthwaite training organizations that he founded. The SPIN® selling process is an extremely popular method for teaching and practising sales discussion with a prospective customer. Incidentally Huthwaite actually say 'Need-payoff' instead of 'Need', but 'SPINP' just doesn't have the same cachet.. Note that the copyright rights in Neil Rackham's book, SPIN Selling, are owned by Huthwaite, Inc. Depending upon the geographic territory, the rights and sales jurisdictions for SPIN® and SPIN SELLING® are owned by either Huthwaite Inc of the US, or Huthwaite International of the UK. See SPIN® Selling in the sales training section for more details. SPIN® and SPIN SELLING® methods and materials are not to be used in the provision of training and development products and services without a licence.


Single Point of Contact. Used by the UK MOD (Ministry of Defence), apparently, and a useful pointer for anyone considering communications strategies in dealings with organizations, especially large ones, where having multiple contacts (individuals and/or departments) can produce confusion. There are many situations which benefit from multiple contacts, for example a customer having access to technical advice, in addition to sales information, however, where a relationship is essentially concerned with one main channel of information or service, a SPOC arrangement is often beneficial, subject of course to ensuring suitable contingency where the SPOC is a single person who might be unavailable when required in an emergency, or absent through sickness or on holiday. The SPOC acronym is a good example of a memorable and meaningful acronym which can be used to convey a helpful point or principle during a training session. In this particular case Star Trek's 'Spock' character comes relevantly and amusingly to mind concerning many ideas relating to communications. (Thanks S Thomas)


Single Point Of Failure. A useful quality/reliability term, or aid to teaching project management and planning, etc., referring to a crucially isolated person or process step which were he/she/it to fail then disaster would inevitably follow. A reminder that any important process should contain checks so that no single point of failure exists. (Thanks C Davis)


Safe Pair Of Hands. Describes trustworthy people and organizations, especially when valuable and important responsibilities are being delegated or awarded. Very modern business-speak, much loved by men in suits who use terms like 'a big win' (a new contract) and 'leverage' (being able to exploit a situation or aspect of strategy for advantage).


Stripped Pine, Olive Oil, Laura Ashley. A lifestyle and demographic-type acronym (thanks J McGovern) from the 1980s referring to a certain grouping of aspirational consumers characterised by such product choices. The term was more commonly used in its plural form, SPOOLAs, but has now largely faded from use with shifting tastes, although olive oil can be found in virtually every kitchen nowadays, and so is no more of a demographic indicator than stripped pine, which has become something of a rarity. SPOOLA people still exist, but the term is no longer a fitting reflection of the fashions they follow. I'm open to suggestions of the modern day equivalent acronym.


Survey, Question, Read, Recall, Review. Impossible to pronounce, but nevertheless a great discipline for the learning-through-reading process. It basically means quickly Survey the whole thing (ie look but not in detail), next note down your Question areas, then Read it in detail, Recall your questions and Review the material you've read. (Ack. Don Clark)


Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. In recent years this has become a popular and visible representation of targeted educational priorities and citizen capabilities, among many groups and authorities with varying agendas in the US, UK and elsewhere in the English-speaking world. STEM factors for example feature in US immigration criteria. STEM 'fields' are seen to improve national competitiveness in the global economy, as well as enabling better national progress, innovation, efficiency and self-sufficiency. The growing attention on STEM subjects is something of a reaction against the trend in recent decades for education and certain national economies to have shifted towards 'softer' and 'easier' and more 'fashionable' subjects and services sectors, while, according to the STEM lobby, there are desperate shortages of skills and people in the vast and vital engineering and scientific disciplines. Such disciplines encompass and enable highly significant sectors of work, skills, and services, for example manufacturing, and development in science and technology, extending to inventions of all sorts, and computing and communications in all guises. The STEM lobby has probably become bigger since the 2008 financial crisis and resulting recession, combined with the growing economic power and competitiveness of the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) plus Japan and Germany of course, which are all traditionally strongly focused on STEM-related skills in education, work, and even arguably as a feature of national culture and pride. The STEM acronym is therefore interesting not only as an educational term, but also as a revealing perspective on very broad international socio-economic theory.


Subject, Target, Emotion, Perception, Plan, Pace, Adapt/Act. The STEPPPA acronym represents a coaching (notably life-coaching in a business context) model devised and advocated by expert coach Angus McLeod, which is now central to much UK formal accredited life-coaching training. Based partly on NLP (Neuro-Linguistic programming) principles, the STEPPPA process entails:

  • Subject - validate the subject (the issue or matter) for the person being coached (coachee).
  • Target - validate or help to establish the specific target (or goal) of the coachee - called target identification.
  • Emotion - ensure emotion is addressed and resolved relating to the coachee, the issue, and the target, which if appropriate should be re-evaluated.
  • Perception - widen the perception and choice in the mind of the coachee.
  • Plan - help the coachee establish a clear plan (process with steps, not choices).
  • Pace - include pace (timescale and milestones) in the plan - (the two elements of plan and pace can be combined, and are sometimes expressed as P2).
  • Adapt or Act - review plan, adapt if necessary, before committing to act on the plan (equating to action).

(N.B. STEPPPA is sometimes wrongly shown as STEPPA, reflecting the combination of the Plan and Pace elements. I am grateful for the confirmation from Angus McLeod Associates that STEPPPA is the correct form.)


Sod This For A Game Of Soldiers. Saint Fagos - the Patron Saint of thankless tasks. When you next hear someone utter the oath, 'For the love of St Fagos...', while struggling with a pointless report or piece of daft analysis, you will know what they mean. Also St Fagoc - conkers instead of soldiers... (Ack T Beecroft) A suggested origin of the 'game of soldiers' phrase (ack R Brookman) is as an old English and slang name for the game of darts, seemingly used in Yorkshire. See  sod this for a game of soldiers in the cliches origins page. If you know more or better about the origin of this phrase please tell me.


SupraTentorial in Origin. Nurses' and Doctors' healthcare acronym. Supratentorial means above the neck, so the acronym is a covert way to say that the illness is all in the imagination. (Ack LR)


Skill, Task, Measure. The classic process for developing skills in people: identify the Skill, agree a Task for the trainee to perform that will involve using the skill, and then Measure the performance, ie the trainee's command of the skill.


Sense of direction, Understanding, Courage, Charity, Esteem, Self-confidence, Self-acceptance. Wonderful acronym devised by American plastic surgeon, writer, and advocate of cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz (1899-1975), who asserted that these listed qualities feature in the attitudes and thinking of successful personalities. Maltz was intrigued that many of his patients achieved increased self-esteem following plastic surgery to correct a significant bodily defect, whereas other people's feelings of inferiority persisted despite improvement to their physical being. Maltz explained his ideas in his 1960 book Psycho-Cybernetics.


Shut Up Move On. Now a trademark associated with motivational speaker and author Paul McGee ('The SUMO Guy'), the SUMO acronym is a powerful maxim for a positive successful approach to life and work. SUMO has strong connections with the  Transactional Analysis and NLP principles of self-reliance, emotional maturity, and focus on future not blame. See also  FIDO.


Silicon Valley Management. Modern management style pioneered by David Packard and William Hewlett, HP founders, and other successful US companies based in the area of California known as Silicon Valley (so called after the silicon chips, central to the computer industries) including principles such as MBWA (Management By Walking Around), MBO's (Management By Objectives) and Open Door Policy/Management. See also MBWA.

SWMBO ('swambo')

She Who Must Be Obeyed. The theoretical partner acronym HWMBO has for some reason never really caught on... (Ack. D Pagett)


Scientific Wild Arsed Guess. This is ideal for those situations when someone can't bring themselves to come up with an opening estimate, even though they're the best placed person to do so. Great for encouraging technical/detailed/finisher people who might be uncomfortable with the vagueness of the start of the creative process. WAG = shortened less scientific form. (Ack. Don Clark)


Sealed With A Loving Kiss. A kind of wartime envelope text message to a loved one. (See also HOLLAND, EGYPT, CHIP, ITALY and NORWICH)


Sell What's Available Now. Sales acronym from 1970s or perhaps earlier, the purpose of which is to encourage and remind sales staff to sell products or services which the sales company has within its range (or current stock), rather than selling solutions (or raising customer expectations for them) which do not actually yet exist, or are out of stock. (Thanks C Cassidy)


Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Famous marketing analysis headings acronym, and actually a very useful framework for interpreting and explaining business situations. See the free SWOT analysis template and examples, and  free SWOT exercise team building game. See also the PEST acronym. Use either or both in business presentations to impress and convince your audience that you know a bit about marketing.


Some Will, Some Won't, So What, Next.. A maxim used in motivation and training/coaching in the  selling and cold-calling professions, and applicable far more widely, for example starting your own business. The word 'some' refers to prospective new customers, or people you attempt to recruit or motivate in pursuit of any cause or venture. 'Will/won't' refers to whether people decide to buy from you or not, or join/follow you in some other way. 'So what' is an acceptance of a central philosophy of selling, business, and motivating others, i.e., that more people say no than yes. 'Next' means move on, notably when someone says no. This wonderful expression/acronym is the invention of Welsh businessman Neville Wilshire, whose Swansea call-centre achieved fame when featured in a BBC TV fly-on-the-wall series in the 2010s. The SWSWSWN maxim became one of Wilshire's main catch-phrases. The philosophy underpinning the SWSWSWN maxim is actually fundamental to most forms of business: not everyone will become a customer, but some people will if you approach enough prospects, and so the real issue is enthusiastically communicating your offerings to people and markets, rather than dwelling on lost sales, or folk who are not interested. The maxim particularly warns against adopting a negativity which can undermine sales people and businesses (or indeed anyone attempting to recruit/convert/persuade others to an action or decision) when success is difficult to achieve. SWSWSWN is therefore a maxim for persistence and determination - in anything demanding sustained effort to overcome rejections, obstacles, and mistakes along the way.


Technique And Practice (or Pressure) Equals Skill. Technique alone is not enough. Application of a new technique in a practice or pressure situation is required to turn the technique into a skill and then improve it.


There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. A double negative, but who cares - it's a great acronym. For anyone who needs reminding of the realities of the business world. (Ack Dr Neale Roney.) For detail of the origin of TANSTAAFL see the entry in the cliches origins section.


Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. Dr Who's company car, so to speak. I can confirm that it is 'Dimensions' not 'Dimension'. This begs the follow-up question as to whether the Dimensions are relative to each other or to time, or to both, or to something entirely different. Apparently this is complicated, as one would expect. Essentially it means (probably) that the Dimensions In Space are relative to each other, and perhaps also this refers to the fact that the TARDIS time machine was a lot bigger on the inside than the outside - because the inside and outside were in different spatial dimensions (thanks S &D Hiscoke). I welcome further speculation about this just as much as unequivocal confirmation. Please feel free to  get in touch.


Tired All The Time. (ODSA). In a medical context this refers to a wide range of mind/body conditions, obviously where a person has for whatever reason become lethargic, seemingly perpetually, or he/she says that's how he/she feels. The state of ongoing 'tiredness' is a really interesting subject and perspective - both the assessment of a person's health in such a way, and the wider idea that 'tiredness' might be applied to other things. Where people are concerned, 'tiredness' can result from so many things, and importantly 'tiredness' itself is a symptom not a cause, and rarely the actual issue. Interventions can often change 'tiredness' into energy and enthusiasm quite quickly, or over time. 'Tiredness' is also a major clue as to other things happening. In certain situations, tiredness might actually be a necessary and helpful condition, for example if recovering or grieving, when it is actually ok and normal to feel tired, and 'tiredness' is a way of giving the mind/body space and time to heal. When we extend the notion of tiredness to other things, it's all dependent on context. Is a pen or pencil and paper or notebook a 'tired' technology compared to computers?.. I don't thing so. Are books a 'tired' medium vs screens? I don't think so. Is a walk a 'tired' concept vs driving? Is a philosophy or idea 'tired' because it is old? Certainly not. Is a junk shop piano less worthy than a modern electronic keyboard? No. It depends on what is appropriate. Tired can mean resting and recovering. Tired can be a well-earned period of calm. Tired can mean natural and authentic. In this age of disposability and pressure to be new and energized all the time, TATT reminds us that tiredness can be a good thing, and if it's not then we must understand it and how best to energise or renew or adapt accordingly. (The above replaces a previous lighter not very useful interpretation of this acronym - thanks J Payne for the prompt.)


That's Another Week Shot Up the Arse. For fatalists and weekend lovers, an elegant and amusing alternative to POETS day. I should clarify that's lovers of weekends, not lovers who get together at the weekend. (Thanks D Hornby)

TBL (or 3BL)

Triple Bottom Line. The modern criteria for sustainable organisational and business success: the Triple Bottom Line - Profit, People, Planet. TBL (or 3BL) is fast becoming a highly significant and influential factor in the success of businesses and organisations. While the robustness of '3BL accounting' principles are still subject to much debate, there is no doubt that customers and staff are increasingly aware, and expect ever more, in terms of corporate responsibility and all that it extends to: business ethics, social and community responsibility, environmental sustainability, fair trade, etc. Organisations which understand and incorporate TBL principles into their fabric and behaviour are therefore more likely to thrive and grow, assuming staff and customers continue to assess and make decisions about supplirs and employers from a 'triple bottom line' perspective.


Total Control Under Pressure. Acronym to emphasise the need for concentration and focus, alternatively interpreted as Think Correctly Under Pressure, or Thinking Clearly Under Pressure, which according to interviews are versions used by the England rugby coaching staff, notably during their 2003 Rugby World Cup success.



Together Everyone Achieves More. A simple truth, and a great acronym for training and team building. (Thanks C Keeble). Alternatively Teach Everyone About Motivation. (Thanks M Andrews). And here's a very amusing and useful ironic meaning, which can illustrate many aspects of 'non-team play' - for example competitiveness, individual need, ambition, selfishness, greed, etc: Totally Engaged in Assisting Myself. (Thanks M Pascoe). The counter-positioning of the two 'TEAM' interpretations - Together Everyone Achieves More vs Totally Engaged in Assisting Myself - offer an interesting way to explain/discuss/present the concept of teamwork/teamplay, etc., and how in reality people's responses and approaches to the ideas of teamworking are actually subject to huge variation, depending on circumstances and personalities, especially reconciling real personal pressures and needs with the demands and aims of the group and wider situation.


Tried Everything Else?..Try Homeopathy. Another ODSA, but perfectly admissable outside the medical arena, such as counselling or stress training. Also good for sales and marketing campaigns that never seem to work.


Tell me, Explain to me, Describe to me.. Selling and communications (specifically questioning) acronym reminding sales people to ask customers open questions, which gather helpful information about the customer's requirements and needs. Open questions typically begin with what, how, which, when, who, why, and the TED phrases, and are used for gather information and building rapport (which is dependent on good listening). Closed questions, which generally prompt yes or no answers, typically begin with phrases such as: Is it..?, Do you..?, Have you..?, Are they..?, etc., and are used for filtering (determining the relevance or 'fit' of customer/offering) and for closing (for example, 'Would you like to go ahead...?') and for gaining commitment ('Do you the xyz aspect...?') and for clarification ('Do you mean in the next week or the next month...?). Sales people (and many other professional communicators) often use closed questions when they should be using open questions, and so TED is a very useful reminder. The TED questions, which for politeness can be prefaced with the words 'Can you please...' are especially effective when questioning senior capable people who are happy and comfortable to speak at length in giving a long explanation to a very short question. See questioning on the sales training page. See  empathy also, for help with listening and building rapport and trust, and for diffusing conflict. (Thanks C Cassidy for TED)


Tastes Expensive, Pension Inadequate, Dammit. Alternative to HOPEFUL.


Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. At first glance this acronym is only of use if you are involved in teaching English as a foreign language. There are other applications however, for example, to emphasise the need for technicians and bureaucrats to use plain English in writing technical manuals and instructions for users. Aternatively (ack LC) TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language.


Thank God It's Friday. (Ack E Swietlik) Polite and probably US version of the English 'POETS day' expression, and later adopted as a brand name for the TGI-Friday's American themed restaurant-bar chain founded in New York in 1965. TGIF also prompted the crude adaptation 'TFI Friday' name of Chris Evans' boundary-breaking 1990s UK Friday evening TV show.


Those Having Insufficient Cerebral Kinesis. Amusing, esoteric, and utterly non-politically correct term. If using this it's as well to understand exatly what it means to avoid being undone by someone bold enough to demand a proper explanation, so: in this context kinesis means broadly 'body activity', from the root Greek kinein, meaning to move. Cerebral of course relates to the brain and thinking, from Greek kara, meaning head, and later Latin cerebrum, meaning brain. (Ack F Guertler)


Taken Into Consideration. As found in legal margins. (Also Tongue In Cheek - a device for reducing the risks associated with using humour or sarcasm. Ack H Niklaus.)


Theory Into Practice. General call-to-action acronym. A good mnemonic for end-of-training or meetings, when responsibilities and accountabilities need to be attached to ideas and plans, with commitment to implementation and timescales. (Ack LW). See also the suggested origin of 'Tip' meaning 'gratuity' in the cliches origins page.


There Is No Alternative. For that extra bit of emphasis - interestingly attributed to Baroness Margaret Thatcher.


Three Letter Acronym. Of course. Or more precisely (thanks W Green, A Smith, and others who have sent me either version) Three Letter Abbreviation.


Two-Legged Rat. Healthcare acronym referring a little unsympathetically to a patient undergoing treatment of an experimental or desperate nature.


That Looks About Right. The TLAR standards - recognised all around the world - amusing and very important sounding Quality Assurance Standard acronym, ideal for giving humourous emphasis to sorts of issues relating to quality management and customer service. (Ack KH)


Three Meaningless Initials. Antidote to the TLA. Also 'Too Much Information'. (Ack M P)


Training Needs Analysis. The TNA term is most commonly given to the process of identifying and planning personal/skills development for an individual, group, or entire workforce. This can be the responsibility of a supervisor, group leader, senior manager, executive, or more usually nowadays an HR or training department. Increasingly, and in many ways ideally, much of the TNA process can be managed using online/intranet systems. The process actually comprises several and often very many other component processes and reviews (connecting to methods such as Performance AppraisalsSWOT analysisPEST analysis, etc). TNA of some sort is generally considered essential for the planning and management of any level of useful training and development in organizational context. However TNA can become highly complex, and at worse self-defeating, if its design and implementaion are overly detailed, and/or if the people, administration and systems controlling TNA are more focused on detailed analysis than on the basic training that the people/organization need in response to the most important internal and external priorities. The potential for TNA (when mismanaged) to waste time/resources has given rise to the more cynical and somewhat amusing interpretation of the TNA acronym, meaning Training's Needless Activities. More information about TNA, and tools for designing and operating TNA are in the Perfomance Appraisals section.


Thanks, but No Thanks. Shorthand for the rejection letter pile, for unsuccesful job applicants, inappropriate sales propositions, or anything worthy of polite refusal (Ack S Parkes). In the world of chemical explosives TNT of course stands for  Trinitrotoluene, which is neither memorable nor easily pronouncable until (like lots of things) you break it down into recognizable chunks: Tri-Nitro-Toluene. And now it's easy. See BID.


Take Out Back And SHoot. (ODSA) Superb nurses abbreviation shorthand for the worst patients. Commonly and covertly used in Los Angeles, and no doubt elsewhere. (Ack KT)


Time Off In Lieu. Very neat acronym/backronym used in flexible working, where overtime (working for more than one's normally contracted hours) counts towards hours or days off in the future. TOIL specifically refers to the additional time off work accrued in this way. The expression is well-established in the UK public sector, and no doubt in other situations which offer flexible working ('flexi-time') employment contracts. TOIL is a less familiar concept to workers in certain environments/roles having more elastic hourly/pay working conditions (such as for the self-employed, entrepreneurs, much of commerce, and senior mangement) within which extra hours are generally regarded as an unrecoverable job norm, rather than a tradable working-hours concession. See in lieu meaning/origin. (Thanks LA)


Task Oriented Instructional System. The basis of experiential learning and training - as in 'I do and I understand' (see the Confucius quotation). Use in conjuntion with TAPES. The Task provides the Pressure element which when applied to the Technique produces Skill. (Ack. Don Clark)


Total Productive Maintenance. An aspect of Total Quality Management and Lean Manufacturing, TPM (thanks P Eastham) is the empowering of production staff with responsibility for proactive maintenance and improvement of especially their own machinery, extending to their immediate working environment, and potentially more depending on the sophistication of the staff and surrounding management situation. More amusingly and alternatively, TPM refers sarcastically to Toss Pot Management.

TOTB (thus TOTBoxer and TOTBoxing)

Think Outside The Box/Thinking Outside The Box. A TOTBoxer is a person who thinks outside the box - i.e., very creatively. TOTBoxing is thinking outside the box. Cleverer than a straightforward TOTB acronym, the expression elegantly describes a creative thinker, or the creative act. (Devised and contributed by Janet Disney, thanks. First published here on 8 Jan 2009.)


There Ought To Be A Law.... Sounds like it should be a TV game show. Cliche-based acronym and a good basis for discussions and exercises - see team building games.


Trailer Park Trash. Derogatory US reference to unsophisticated folk supposed to inhabit static caravan sites, especially in the Southern USA. The term became popular in the 1990s and (according to Cassells) derives from the 1800s black American slang 'White Trash' referring to white people considered socially dysfunctional, burdensome, ill-educated, etc. Trailer Park Trash and the shorter Trailer Trash expressions equate in some ways to the UK slang Chav, notably in that the slang increasingly describes people of a certain lifestyle or behaviour rather than according to a social class or where they live.


The Powers That Be. Typically referring to autocratic managers or bosses at work, extending to all other figures of authority, especially those too arrogant or important to be seen by or talk face-to-face with the people under their control, (thanks DC). If you are one of TPTB ask yourself why people refer to you as this and how you might become more like a human being. Alternatively The People To Blame (an expression which can arise in anyone's vocabulary in moments of weakness) and Too Poor To Be... (whatever, which is a very neat way to sum up the inevitability of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, and the fact that motivation at desperate levels tends to be determined by circumstances).


Total Quality Control. Forerunning theory from the 1970s to TQM, and successor to SPC..


Total Quality Management. Most people believe that the Japanese TQM philosophy, if not all the products, was home-grown in Japan. Not so. A little known fact is that the two American gurus, Juran and Edwards-Deming, taught the Japanese all they know about Total Quality Management in the 1950s. To the Japanese, they are both still revered as industrial icons.


Total Quality Management System. Extension of TQM, describing the system by which a company manages Total Quality. Allegedly when the Lockheed Aircraft company introduced their own Total Quality Management System some years ago their engineers devised an alternative meaning - Time to Quit and Move to Seattle (home of competitor Boeing). (Ack SG)


Transaction, Relationship, Information, Partnership. The sequential development of a successful customer-supplier co-operation.


Thousands Standing Around. An ironically amusing if gently insulting acronym, used by airline passengers frequenting US airports, and increasingly apparently also by TSA staff themselves, in referring to Transportation Security Administrationsecurity service personnel, some of whom (it is alleged) might be seen from time to time standing around not doing very much, clustered in great numbers, at the many and various checkpoints that travellers must negotiate in the course of modern-day airplane travel. TSA in this ironic sense is arguably also a bacronym, since it reinterprets the acronym's original meaning. The expression is most certainly transferable to all sorts of other situations where large numbers of staff or volunteers are gathered in an under-employed or 'ready' status when observers and customers might imagine more activity, especially where work needs doing but isn't being done, through lack of good direction or local initiative. (Thanks P Mackay)

TSSBAT (tissbat)

The Student Should Be Able To... This is a terrific acronym for emphasising and agreeing expectations of responsibility, capability, action plans, objectives, etc.; any situation where responsibility or knowledge is needs to be confirmed. (Ack. LW)


Ta Ta For Now. In other words, see you later, or 'bye for now. TTFN became strongly associated (along with BFN - 'bye for now) with the daytime BBC radio DJ Jimmy Young who said it every day at the end of his shows in the 1960s. TTFN originated in the BBC radio show It's That Man Again (known as ITMA), a popular 1940s weekly comedy launched in 1939 featuring Liverpool comedian Tommy Handley, in which TTFN was a catchphrase of Mrs Mopp the office char, played by Dorothy Summers. Ta-Ta meaning goodbye is first recorded in use as a nursery expression in 1837. (Thanks H Sinclair-Hyde for alerting me to this omission in the list, and to R Farley for pointing me towards the ITMA origin.) I am further informed (thanks Dr P Rutherford) that TTFN is used in morse code to signify "I have no further messages". The TTFN code is dash, dash, dot dot dash dot, dash dot, which interesting equates to to the morse code message ZZN, meaning "I am closing down" (dash dash dot dot, dash dot, dash dot). When the pauses are removed (dash dash dot dot dash dot dash dot), the code sequence for TTFN and ZNN is the same.


Teams, Tools, Systems and Culture, Communication, Commitment. The hard and soft elements of the Total Quality Management model. Every quality company has these things in place.


Totally Unnecessary Breast Examination. (ODSA). Allegedly seen occasionally on patients medical notes. Not recommended for use in any circumstances whatsoever. See the similarly disturbing BBSS. (Thanks P Gover)


Transfer of Undertakings for Protection of Employment. The UK's TUPE regulations are employment legislation which dictate proper process and employer's obligations regarding the transfer of staff from one employer to another, for example in the case of transfer of staff to an outsourced (contracted out) services supplier. Employers transferring out and transferring in staff should ensure they understand these laws, especially before concluding negotiations about the sale, purchase or transfer of business interests.


Technology Without An Interesting Name. 'TWAIN' is the de facto compliance interface standard for scanning devices, and the name of the group formed in 1992 (by vendors such as Adobe, Ricoh, Xerox and Kodak) with the purpose of developing and promoting the 'TWAIN Initiative'. TWAIN actually originated as as a metaphorical name - not an acronym - based on literal meaning of twain, which is 'two' or 'two things'. Inspiration for this came from the opening line of Rudyard Kipling's 1889 poem, Ballad Of East And West: "Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." Considering that the technology is concerned with connecting two functions - that of driver and application - this seems perfectly logical. However, the clever folks at TWAIN decided to use the word in upper case (apparently to improve its distinctiveness), which contributed first to the belief that is was an acronym, and next to a competition to create an acronym root phrase retrospectively from the word (sponsored by who or what I don't know), with the result that many now believe the word came from the acronym and not vice-versa. The TWAIN group iteself acknowledges that the expression continues to haunt the standard. Incidentally the next lines of the poem are:

"...Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat; 
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, 
When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth!"

(Ack. M Rosling)


Taking Without Owner's Consent. Legal and police acronym describing theft of some sort. This gives rise also to the use of the word in slang verb form: 'twoc' meaning to steal, or more euphemistically, to fail to return something borrowed. For example: "Did you buy that rather fetching hotel bathrobe or do you twoc it?....."


Unexplained Beer Injury. (ODSA) Drunk, with injuries of unknown origin. Acronym from Nova Scotia orthopaedics nursing, and widely applicable elsewhere. (Ack KP)


Unidentified Four Letter Acronym. Companion acronym to UTLA.


yoU Foul (it/up), yoU Fix (it). Polite version. Clever no-nonsense reminder of the rule of clearing up one's mistakes. See also (YFI)2. (Thanks G Harrison)


yoU Must Be Really Old. Acronym remarking that someone's choice of attire or other tell-tale behaviour gives their age away; for example, mobile phones over a year old, wearing a coat in the winter, cooking fresh vegetables, phoning instead of emailing, never having heard of, using a pen and notepad, walking anywhere, etc. (Ack P&J)


Unusually Nasty Infection; Vultures Are Circling. (ODSA) Wonderful dark humour self-explanatory healthcare acronym from orthopaedic nursing in Nova Scotia, Canada. (Ack KP)


Unique Perceived Benefit. Your USP from the customer's perspective. What your USP means to your customer, which is a very different way of approaching selling than from the traditional angle of seller-oriented USPs. It's essential to discuss your offering in these terms with your customer. The UPB acronym and concept was developed by The Marketing Guild, who specialise in practical, innovative, and effective sales and marketing.


Unique Selling Point (or Proposition). You can't be very successful in any business unless you have at least one USP, that is to say - you've got to be doing something that nobody else is doing.


Unidentified Three Letter Acronym. More interesting than the straight TLA. See also UFLA above.


Very Egotistical Stupid Twit. Slightly toned down interpretation. Socialising/Dating terminology. Transfers easily to other environments, including work situations. Typically applicable to the male of the species, and especially applicable when subject is wearing said garment.


Visual Book Enhancement. Visual Book Enhancement is video-based content to support or illustrate text-based material, for example a DVD with a book, or conceivably a video file within an online text-based tutorial. A simple powerful concept that (as at the early 2000s) we've not begun to see exploited widely yet, but surely will. This neat acronym cleverly conveys its meaning in the word since a VIBE adds sensory information to text. Older readers will recall that the word vibe was 1960s slang for atmosphere or feeling, derived from the word vibration. The acronym VIBE is however a very modern acronym from and for the digital age - rather like cartoon illustrations have been used traditionally to support text instructions or details, so video enables a wider sensory experience. I first heard the term VIBE used by Jackie Stewart in November 2007 when referring to his autobigraphy, Winning is not Enough, which contains a 'VIBE' - a DVD - to augment the words on the pages. If anyone knows who coined the VIBE acronym originally please tell me.


Village Idiot On Tour. Informal acronym used by London Transport staff to describe certain types of visitor to London, particularly those struggling to comprehend the Underground system and blaming everyone but themselves for their confusion. (Ack A Butler)


Visually Impaired Person. Semi-official acronym used by London Transport referring to a blind or partially sighted person needing assistance. A fitting customer service variation on the traditional 'Very Important Person' meaning. (Ack AB) See also MIP.


Vital Information Resources Under Siege. Said by some to be the origin of the computer term 'virus' but sadly the 'Vital Information Resources Under Siege' meaning is a bacronym. Incidentally the word virus, referring (since c.1728) to a harmful self-propogating micro-organism which causes disease in people and other living things, is from the original Latin 'virus', meaning a 'slimy poisonous liquid', such as plant sap, or snake venom, or bodily/pus secretion, because this was the common visible and perceived symptom/cause of viral infection, and so (in the late 1300s) considered to be the infection/source itself. (Thanks S Hunter)


Virtual Learning Environment. Acronym emerging in the late 1990s/early 2000s. A VLE is a web-based or intranet-based learning/teaching provision, enabling users to do 'virtually', i.e., via computer, much of what would normally be done in conventional school or college situation. Social networking connectivity is typically a big part of a VLE. Generally learners have more control of their learning (what, how, when, etc) in a VLE than in traditional teaching/training situations. A VLE may be established by an existing conventional teaching/training/educational provider, or employer, (for example using a VLE computer/website platform such as MOODLE) or may be set up in a stand-alone dedicated way, notably in the form of a teaching website, such as a provider of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).


Wind Assisted Flaming Idiot. This interpretation is obviously the polite version. Essentially a maritime term, but actually transferable to anyone who blusters and blunders about, having no regard for the safety of others, and no control of the forces that they seek to dominate. The acronym originates (Ack E Creswick) from the UK Coast Guard, RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) and other maritime agencies, who use WAFI in marine VHF messages to describe an incident or potential incident at sea in which lives are at risk, usually due to the actions of an idiot in charge of a small sailboat getting into difficulty or causing trouble to others. The WAFI expression is however far more potent and meaningful when applied to certain leaders of governments and large corporations who embark on or maintain activities and policies which recklessly and arrogantly endanger and undermine people's well-being and safety everywhere. The WAFI leader is a sad phenomenon of the modern age that will come to an end when ordinary people use their collective power to change things.


Wild Arsed Guess/Wild Assed Guess. Shortened form of SWAG, and earlier in the creative process - even before the project makes it onto the cigarette packet or napkin. (Ack. Don Clark) WAG is not to be confused with WAGs, meaning 'Wives And Girlfriends', as seemingly first concocted by the UK tabloid press with reference to the partners of England's footballers at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.


What A Good Idea If... Sardonic term from the armed forces, but eminently transferable and just as effective in describing any daft instruction from the idiots above. (Ack. Mick Whelan)


Wild Assed Guess, Not Easily Refuted. Extension of the SWAG and WAG acronyms. Perhaps based ironically and unfairly on the admirable Wagner Free Institute of the US which provides the oldest free adult education programme in America, as well as a huge library and information service covering scientific history. The acronym more likely originated as a means of poking fun at those who habitually quoted the Wagner Institute as a 'source' for statistics and research information. (Ack D Maguire)


What A Load Of Crap. Multiple use acronym. Fascinatingly, the meaning is almost entirely conveyed phonetically in the abbreviation, such is the way many people, speaking lazily or fast, would pronounce the phrase, ie., " wa' lo' cra' ".


Wet Arse No Fish. Acronym to describe one of those days when you've planned to do all sorts of things and yet not managed to achieve any. (Ack A Humphreys)


White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. The first and original demographics acronym? As featured in countless American police chase movies when the good guys are rushing out the description of the bad guys in the first frantic APB. WASP is alternatively and amusingly interpreted (thanks S McCarthy) to mean Women Are Superior People.


Where Do I Sign? An acronym said to be from 1980s Wall Street (New York's financial centre) used by brokers when referring to investors who fail to scrutinize what/whom they are investing in. The WDIS effect is the major factor in any large-scale financial scandal, at the top of which is an idiot or a crook, followed by lots of people who ask too few questions.


What Have You. Alternative to 'etc'.


Wash Iron Fornicate Etc. Polite version. Alpha-males might not necessarily appreciate the supreme ironic quality of this acronym.


When It's Gone It's Gone. Philosophically flexible for all sorts of situations in which a little delaying of gratification might be more helpful than reckless squandering or consumption. (Thanks M Iszatt)



What's In It For Me? The essential element of all successful communications and organizational initiatives, and of all efforts towards persuasion, influence, facilitation and mediation. To understand the other person's 'WIIFM' issues we need  empathy. Central to this, during the exploring or research process necessary before embarking on actions aimed at moving others to take action, we must listen empathically and facilitatively to the people we want to reach and move. The principle of WIIFM asserts that if there's nothing in it for the other person, or the audience, then they may hear us but they won't really listen, and without satisfying the WIIFM factor they'll never commit to action. Here is a humorous example of the WIIFM factor in a selling situation: Airman Peters was assigned to the Air Force induction training centre to explain and sell the Air Force Life Insurance to new conscripts. The office manager noticed that amazingly Peters' success rate was close on 100%, so he decided to listen to Peters' technique. This was it.. After outlining the insurance policy basics to the new recruits, Peters was heard to say: "If you're killed in action and have the Air Force Insurance, the government has to pay £500,000 to your beneficiaries, whereas if you don't have the insurance, compensation is just the statutory £15,000." Peters paused, and then finished with the WIIFM line, "So which group do you think they are going to send into action first?..." (The buyers of the insurance were far more motivated by the implied reduction of exposure to risk, than to the seemingly more obvious appeal of higher compensation level.)


Will Install Needless Data On Whole System. Classic ironic 'backronym'. Perhaps a little unfair, but need we say more?...


Work It Out For Your Flipping Self. Polite version. WIOFYFS is actually a wonderful maxim for developing personal self-reliance and for organisations who want their people to be self-reliant and always growing. Why wait for someone else to give you the answers if you can work it out yourself? Today's organisations need to encourage their people to take initiative, and modern managers need to support people in doing so, even if mistakes are made. (See the guides to delegating and the  Tannenbum & Schmidt model relating to developing teams). See also GAAFOFY. WIOFYFS was allegedly (Ack Rob Carr) originated by a touring rugby team for tour T-shirt slogan. For a free WIOFYFS colour poster see the free businessballs posters page.


Without Loss Of Generality. Mathematical term, and applicable more generally, to justify the use of an isolated case in proving an issue, when the need for wider evidence is not required or is irrelevant and would be a waste of time. (Thanks E Key)


Waste Of Flipping Time And Money. Originated in the Australian Army and now deservedly in wider use. E.g., "I have to work the weekend on the latest company WOFTAM project..." (thanks L Speden). I am additionally informed (thanks R Owen) that WOFTAM was certainly in use in the Australian Army, in Melbourne, by the 1980s. There it described a particularly disinterested or demotivated soldier/civilian trainee, close being discharged from basic training due to lack of suitability, also referred to a 'ration thief' or 'oxygen thief' in ironic reference to using resources needed by properly committed colleagues.


Waste Of Money, Brains And Time. Another great acronym from down-under. Ideal for project management commentaries, certain corporate re-branding schemes, the latest government training initiative, etc. (Ack D Martin) The WOMBAT acronym is alternatively interpreted into meaning Women - Over Men, Beer And Television, a term used by women and men to describe a certain type of man who prioritises his fondness for women over and above the stereotypical 'bloke' pursuits. (Ack M Christiansen)


Well Off Older Folk. Also referred to as WOOFs; A variant of WOOP below.


We're On Our Own. A wonderfully apt and fitting acronym for expressing a team or group feeling of unity and that thrilling combination of excitement and fear in the face of a challenge. While often caused by apparently negative or unwanted situations, such as desertion by a poor 'leader', or the cutting off of support, the WOOO effect can unleash previously hidden and unknown amazing capabilities in people and teams, and be so liberatingly empowering as to move mountains. WOOO is generally an ingredient of employee buy-outs and other situations where a work team of like-minded people takes over the ownership and responsibility for an organization which previously employed them merely as staff. WOOO may also happen by helpful positive design, such as the delegation of greater responsibility by a good leader to a maturing team. WOOO can happen when any group is given the opportunity to discover and develop and achieve by themselves. See delegation and the  Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum. See also YOYO.


Well Off Older Person. Also known as Woopie (as in Yuppie) The new focus of so many modern advertising campaigns. See GLAM, and WOOF above.


Wonderful Old Thing Considering His/Her Age. Patronising alternative to HOPEFUL and TEPID.


Wind, Reel And Print. Now used to denote the completion of any project ('it's a wrap'), this is supposedly originally a movie-makers' term, used when filming is completed.


What You See Before You Get It. Excellent variation on the ubiquitous WYSIWYG. Ideal for presenting concepts to stupid boards of directors, who don't understand the creative process (like the true story about the director of a $multi-million company who complained that a concept advertisement layout was full of gobbledegook. It was of course the random text that designers use instead of copy before the real stuff is written. True I assure you.) (Ack. Don Clark)


What You See Is What You Get. If you've accessed this archive via the Internet you'll probably know this one already, as WYSIWYG is now common computer jargon, although not always true. Nevertheless, this famous acronym has applications just about everywhere, and is an excellent reminder of the importance of visualising outcomes in order to achieve results. Contrast the planned, measured WYSIWYG approach to IKIWISI above.


What You Get Is What You Deserve. A maxim for life and personal responsibility: you get out what you put in - you reap what you sow. WYGIWYD is also a great reminder that people are more likely to perform to their fullest potential when they are given fair reward and recognition. Also relevant for project planning and all matters of investing in people, development, plant and equipment, etc: if you want good results then invest properly and act with integrity. WYGIWYD also emphasises the importance of communicating fully and properly with people whom you expect to produce results of any sort: internal and external staff and suppliers, designers, programmers, writers, etc. A free WYGIWYD poster is available from the  businessballs free posters page. (thanks L Speden for the acronym)


eXtended Three-Letter Acronym. Amusing ironic enhancement of TLA. Basically XTLA can mean any acronym of four or more letters. (Thanks P Gover)


eXamine Your Zipper. Amusingly neat and discreet way to tell someone when his trouser fly is open. (Thanks Carmen)


You Always Have Other Options. While this is ostensibly a corporation backronym, this particular interpretation provides a wonderful mnemonic and aid for training and coaching - to encourage others to 'think outside of the box' and to visualise new directions and goals. The 'Eureka!' feel of the YAHOO word of course adds to the effect of liberating and lifting one's limits. For the other more ordinary corporation-oriented YAHOO backronyms see the corporation backronyms list.)


Young, Attractive, Verbal, Intelligent, Successful. Another demographic acronym.


You Fouled It, You Fix it. Polite version. Very clever if somewhat abrupt acronym about taking responsibility for one's own mistakes. (Thanks A Fletcher). See also (UF)2.


Your Mileage Might Vary/Your Mileage May Vary. increasingly popular abbreviation appearing in electronic messages, where it is used figuratively to acknowledge that the other person could have different circumstances, experiences, views, etc. The disclaimer seems originally to have appeared in the small-print of the US automotive industry, for example in vehicle or parts performance or life-expectancy statements. In its modern sense the abbreviation is a fitting metaphor for objectivity and respecting others, reminding us that other people are highly likely to have a different position or feeling than our own. (Thanks D Rudloff)


You Only Get Out What You Put In. Amusing and truthful acronymic rule for life, which in abbreviated form trips off the tongue very pleasingly. Alludes to Karma and very constructively extends the GIGO concept. (Thanks E Gordon, who attributes this to Dr Terry Swan in late 1990s USA, but the acronym could be earlier, so I'm open to suggestions if you know previous history or certain origin).


You Only Live Once. A popular 2010s texting/messaging acronym, with similar meaning as the Latin expression 'Carpe Diem' (Seize the Day), i.e., live for today; grab opportunities, take risks (because you won't get the time again, and you are a long time dead). Interestingly among........ The expression You Only Live Once is actually very old, for example it's the title in German, 'Man lebt nur einmal! (You only live once!) of the a a waltz by Johann Strauss II written in 1855.


You're On Your Own. YOYO has obvious and wide-ranging uses, particularly for those moments when someone is pursuing a lost cause or unrealistic plan. YOYO may also be a partner acronym for JFDI, to reinforce the notion of self-determination and self-reliance. Less helpfully YOYO can refer to desertion or neglect, or poorly managed delegation when a task is given with inadequate consideration for instruction and support, etc., (thanks Don Clark). A prefixed version KMAYOYO - Kiss My Ass, You're On Your Own (thanks T Brandley) adds extra emphasis. See also the more inclusive WOOO - We're On Our Own. The two expressions together offer an amusing example of two main leadership styles, whereby YOYO is 'separated' and autocratic (low relationship), whereas WOOO is 'participative' (high relationship).


Young Upwardly-mobile Professional. Alternatively 'Young Urban Professional'. Perhaps the best known acronym-derived demographic term ever to have entered common parlance, but not strictly a full proper acronym. Should really be YUMP, which in some ways resonates more amusingly than YUPPIE, but would it have caught on?...... (Seemingly 'Young, Upwardly-Mobile Professionals' were originally called YUMPIES - but the term was quickly superseded by YUPPIES, which was alternatively defined as 'young urban professionals'. As is a factor in much of the development of language and expressions, the -y or -ie endings were added for greater euphony - ie., to make the words sound more pleasing to the ear - like the plural DINKIES (as an extension of DINK) to which incidentally restrospectively the 'yet' was added to make it DINKY. Ack JW)

If you have your own suggestions for this acronym finder please send them via the contact us page.



Lifestyle and demographics profiles acronyms

Here in one section are all the lifestyle and demographics profiles acronyms that feature in the dictionary above. These amusing and occasionally less-than-PC acronyms and abbreviations are an increasing presence in our language. The expressions reflect social change and also changing attitudes to certain lifestyles and values. If you have examples of other lifestyle and demographics acronyms please send them. For fuller descriptions and contributors where applicable see the entries as they appear above.


Bankrupt Unemployed Rejected Person. See Maslow.


Council Housed And Violent. Made-up 'bacronym', not the actual origin. See entry in main listing.


Double Income Little Dog Owners/Dual Income Little Dogs Only.


Dual Income Mortgage We're In Trouble.


Double Income No Kids Yet.


Dual Income, Two/Three CHildren, Expanding Debts. Adaptation (devised by R Burn-Smith, thanks) of the famous DINKY demographic acronym.


Greying, Leisured, Affluent, Married.


Genial Old Farts Enjoying Retirement. Alternative meaning in similar context is Genial Old Fisherman Enjoying Recreation.


High Earning Worker.


Hard-up Old Person Expecting Full Useful Life.


Kids In Parents' Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings.


Loads Of Money But A Real Donut/Dickhead.


Lazy Ignorant Fool Expecting Retirement.


Middle-aged Urban Professional.


Not in Employment, Education or Training.


No Income, No Job or Assets.


One Income, No Kids Yet.


One Recent Child, Heavily In Debt.


Running A Business And Doing A Degree.


Rich Ordinary Briton.


Retired/Rich/Respectable Old Men Eating Out/Enjoying Outings.


Rich Urban Biker.


Single And Desperate For A Baby.


Suburban Asset Lightweight.


Single Income No Boyfriend And Desperate.


Single Income Two Children Oppressive Mortgage.


Spending the Kids' Inheritance.


Sensitive New-Age Guy.


Snot-Nosed Egostical Rude Teenager.


Stripped Pine, Olive Oil, Laura Ashley.


Tastes Expensive, Pension Inadequate, Dammit.


Very Egotistical Stupid Twit.


White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.


Well Off Older Folk.


Well Off Older Person.


Wonderful Old Thing Considering His/Her Age.


Young Upwardly-mobile Professional.


healthcare acronyms listing

Here in one section are all the healthcare acronyms featured in the dictionary above. These outrageous acronyms and abbreviations (identified in the dictionary listing above by the term ODSA, which stands for Original Doctors Shorthand Acronym) are used - allegedly - in various parts of the world by certain doctors, GP's, consultants, nurses and other healthcare staff on patients' notes or in verbal references. Of course the use of most of these terms is not encouraged - they're here as amusing and interesting examples of modern communications, language adaptation, the use of dark humour to help deal with life's upsets, of customer service attitudes, and particularly these acronyms serve to demonstrate the importance of humour in stressful occupations. If you have examples of others please send them.

For further descriptions and contributors see the entries as they appear above in the fuller listing.


Alert, Oriented times 3 (person, place, time).


Apoplexy, Epilepsy, Injury, Opium or other drugs, Uraemia, Dead Drunk and Diabetes. (Healthcare mnemonic to aid memory of possible causes of unconsciousness.)


All Fine On Leaving.


Acute Gravity Attack. (Patient fell over)


Age, Site, Depth, Area. (Emergency burns assessment methodology - see entry in main listing.)


Alert, Voice, Pain, Unresponsive. (First aiders training acronym used in casualty assessment, relating to a victim's level of response - see AVPU detail in main listing)


All Well On Leaving.


Away With The Fairies.

BBSS or B2S2

Big Boobs, See Soon. (Appalling obviously, and a bit scary too.)


Bloody Near Dead. Recalled in use (thanks KM) 1980s Australia; probably elsewhere too.


But Unfortunately Not Dead Yet. (See also TF-BUNDY in the listing above under the BUNDY entry)


Breathing Valuable Air.


Beached Whale Syndrome.


Cleaning Nasty Arses. (alternative to usual meaning: Certified Nurses Assistant)


Circling the Drain/Close To Death.


Danger To Shipping.


Dead Right There.


Dead Right There, There, There, and There.


Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatoscopy. Alternatively, if a newly admitted patient dies suddenly before they have been examined ('clerked') by the ward doctor, the 'admission' notes may be written up post-mortem (after they should have been, in other words), in which case the acronym takes on a more mischievous interpretation: Emergency Retrograde Clerking of Patient.


Fat And Stupid.


Fall Down Go Boom.


Funny Looking Kid.


Funny Looking Kid, Funny Looking Parents.


Fall On Out-Stretched Hand.


Fornicates Regularly And Chain Smokes.


God Alone Knows.


General Body Crumble.


Good Looking Mum.


God Only Knows.


Get Out of My Emergency Room.


Good for Parts Only.


Guardian Reader Of Limited Intelligence, Ethnic Skirt.


Husband Is Village Idiot.


Mad As A Hatter.


Nothing Abnormal Discovered/Detected. (NAD is alternatively often used when superiors ask for the results of tests that no-one thought to order, in which case it means Not Actually Done.....)


Normal For Londoners. (And variations on the same theme, eg, NFN = Normal for Norfolk)


Needs a Good Shag. Reference, apparently, to a certain type of human anxiety having little or no discernible cause.


No Known Drug Allergies. Alternatively the abbreviation is used to mean Not Known, Didn't Ask.


Not One Of Nature's Gentlemen.


Not Quite Right.


Not Yet Diagnosed - Nervous.


Over Anxious Person.


Oscillating Plumbism. Swinging the Lead.


Proctodynia By Proxy. (A pain in the backside...)


Pupils Equal And Reacting To Light.


Pissed And Fell Over.


Pupils Equal, Round, Reactive to Light and Accommodate to distance.


Permanent and Irrecoverable State of Alcoholism.


Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. (For the treatment of certain leg and foot injuries.)


Sub-Normal Even For Norfolk. Medical notes shorthand. Other counties/towns are routinely substituted.


Shortness Of Breath.


SupraTentorial in Origin. (Imagined - supratentorial means 'above the neck'.)


Tired All The Time.


Tried Everything Else?..Try Homeopathy.


Two-Legged Rat. (A patient undergoing extreme/experimental treatment)


Take Out Back And SHoot.


Totally Unnecessary Breast Examination.


Unexplained Beer Injury.


Unusually Nasty Infection; Vultures Are Circling.


Contributors of these acronyms are acknowledged in the detailed entries in the main acronyms section. If you have examples of other healthcare acronyms please send them.


acronyms from the automotive industry

Acronyms from or related to the automotive sector - some amusing, others more interesting from a social and cultural perspective. It's interesting that nearly all are negative - cars for many people are an easy target of envy, frustration and ironic humour. A few of these acronyms ('backronyms' or 'bacronyms' more correctly) are potentially offensive on the basis of race and or taste, so if you are easily offended don't read them. In addition to providing some interesting examples of attitudes, humour and the adaptability of language, these barbed interpretations also serve to show that cars can give rise to strong feelings and bias. This is not an exhaustive list and attempts only to include the more creative, interesting and amusing examples. No offence is intended:


Almost Made a Car/Ain't My Car.


Another Strut To Overhaul Nightly - Many Apparent Repairs To Internal Nubs (nubs are wheel bushes).


Beautiful Engine, Needs To Last Endless Years.


Bloody Money Waster/Break My Windows/Built by Migrant Workers/Big-up My Willy/Bought Mainly by Wankers/Black Man's Wheels/Black Man's Willy/Bring Money in Wheelbarrows/Blew My Wad/Built from Mercedes Wastebasket/Barely Moving and Working/Bersten Mal Wieder (German: 'bust again')/Bei Mercedes Weggeworfen (German: 'made from the parts Mercedes threw away')/Bayerischer MistWagen (German: Bavarian Manure Wagon)/Bayerischer MistWerke (German: Bavarian Manure Works)/Bak Met Wielen (Dutch: 'box with wheels')


Bits Stuck Anywhere/Best Scrap Available/Bloody Sore Arse/Bloody Sore Ass.


Barfed Up Icky Carmel Korn. (Carmel Korn is a USA snack-stand brand specializing in caramel coated popcorn - thanks Crystal).


Clatters Heavily, Every Valve Rattles, Oil Leaks Every Time/Cheap Heap Every Valve Rattles Or Leaks Every Time/Can Hear Every Valve Rattling On Long Extended Trips


Damned Old Dirty Gas Eater/Dead On Day Guarantee Expires/Dies On Day Guarantee Expires/Drips Oil, Drops Grease Everywhere/Dem Old Dudes Go Everywhere.


Found In A Tip/Failure In Automotive Technology/Fix It Again Tony/Fix It Again Tomorrow/Futile (or Feeble) Italian Attempt at Transportation/Fehler In Allen Teilen (German: 'faulty in all parts')/Fur Italiener Achreichende Technologie (German: 'for Italians adequate technology')/Fui Idiota Agora e Tarde (Portuguese: 'I've been stupid now it's too late')


Found On Roadside, Dead/Found On Rubbish Dump/Fix Or Repair Daily/Fast Only Rolling Downhill/Fix Or Replace Daily/Flip Over, Read Directions/First On Race Day/Full Of Rust and Decay/For Outstanding Reliability and Dependability//Frickin' Oakies Really Dig'em/Frequent Off-Road Disasters/Familjen Olssons Rullande Dass (Swedish: 'Family Olssen's Rolling Toilet').


Grinding Metal/Generally Mediocre.


Garbage Made Carefully/Garage Man's Companion/General Mess of Crap/Gotta Mechanic Coming/Good Mexican Car/Garage Man's Companion.


Good for Parts Only. (Not actually an automotive maker, but a popular automotive acronym. Used in similar deathly fashion in the healthcare industry.. Was originally General Post Office)


God The Insurance.


Hope Our Luck Doesn't End Now.


Hold On Not Done Accelerating/Have One, Never Do it Again/Had One, Never Did Again.


Huge Unnecessary Massive Mobile, Emmissions Ridiculous.


Just A Gauge Under Another Repair.


Just Enough Essential Parts/Just Enough Engine Power/Junk; Each and Every Part/Just Empty Every Pocket.


Killed In Action/Killed in Automobile.


Life and Death Association/Left At Dump Abandoned/Laissee Au Depotoir Abandonee (French: Left At Dump Abandoned)/Langs Achter Duwen Alstublieft (Dutch: 'please push from behind')


Loads Of Trouble, Usually Serious/Leaking Oil To Under Side.


Leaves Us Cold And Stranded. (Lucus manufacture automotive parts.)


Made At Zoo by Demented Apes.


Made In Taiwan, Subcontracted Up to the British Isles, Shipped Here Incomplete.


Move Over, Plymouth Approaching Rapidly/Mostly Old Parts And Rust/My Old Plymouth (or Pig) Ain't Running/Motor On Pavement After Race/Massively Over-Powered, Always Reliable/Many Old Parts Assembled Recklessly. (MOPAR is the parts and service subsidiary of the Chrysler motor coporation, famous for its durable Plymouth cars. The name MOPAR is an abbreviated portmanteau word formed from the words 'Motor Parts'.)


Mostly Garaged/Money Gone/Mighty Good/Modern Gentleman (allegedly the 'Modern Gentleman' interpretation was very aptly suggested in Chinese publicity after acquiring the MG sports car company from Austin-Rover)


Musical Gear Box Grinds Teeth.


Old Ladies Driving Slowly Making Others Behind Increasingly Late Everyday.


Paid Inspector Nicely To Overlook (during regulatory safety testing)/Powerful Incendiary, Neatly Toasts Occupants/Put In New Transmission Often.


Poxy Engine, Useless Gearbox, Every One Trouble.


Poor Old Numpty/Numnut/Nucker/Nudnik Thinks It's A Cadillac. (A common alternative version for the N-word is too offensive even for this website, sorry - thanks to the many who have suggested it, in the interests of language study and curiosity of course.)


Proof Only Rich Shits Can Have Everything.


Something's Always About to Break.


Still Usable But All Rusted Underneath.


The One You Ought To Avoid/Too Often Yankees (or Yanks) Overprice This Auto/Taking Our Yen Out Thanks America.


(Thanks to: D Compton, AJ, S Clory, D Hawksworth, S Skariah, T Day, S Cadd, S Rivera, J Hemmingway, T Cole, D Burton, C Purdom, G Day, W Buckley, J Quirk, Ed P, J Fobian, G Tolentino, S Harvey, P Bruton, C Buckneberg, B Speck, Crystal, M Alexander, J Heeley, M Flatla, P Eastham, L van den Berg, J Kelmar, J Fobian again thanks, and special acknowledgement to E Harvey for the SAAB invention.)

If you have other automotive or car acronyms please send them.


airlines and aviation acronyms/bacronyms

As with the other acronyms on this website, this listing illustrates the amusing development of coded langauge and communications and is not meant to cause offence, neither is it to be seen as a comment on service levels or the qualities of the doubtless fine organizations featured in the list, even though some no longer exist. A few of these acronyms (more correctly 'backronyms' or 'bacronyms' ) are potentially offensive so if you are easily offended don't read them. This is not an exhaustive list and attempts only to include the more creative, interesting or amusing examples. I welcome additions if you know a good one:


After I Return I'll Never Do It Again.


Airplane Lands In Turin And Luggage In Ancona/Airplane Lands In Tokyo And Luggage In Atlanta (etc, etc.)/Always Late In Take-off, Always Late In Arrival/A Little Italian Tradition And Lotsa Italian Attitude.


America's Worst Airline.


Britain's Excuse for an Airline/Back Every Afternoon. (Night stops were a rarity for BEA.)


Baggage On Another Continent/Boys Overseas After Crumpet/Better Off On A Camel/Better On Air Canada/Boeing Only Aircraft Considered.


But Will It Arrive?/Better Walk If Able/Britain's Worst Investment Abroad.


Divert Everyone's Luggage To Atlanta/Don't Expect Luggage To Arrive/Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport/Didn't Expect To Land There Anyway/Delivering Everyone Late Through Atlanta/Don't Expect to Leave the Terminal Alive.


Economy Airline Slows Your Journey Every Time.


Every Landing Always Late.


Good And Reliable Under Dutch Authority/Government Airway Ruined Under Dutch Administration.


Keeps Losing Money.


Left Brains In Airport Carpark. (Not an airline but an amusing acronym used by airport staff referring to daft customers)


Luggage In Another Terminal.


Lot Of Troubles.


Let Us Find The Hostess As No Steward Available/Let Us Free The Hostages And Not Shoot Anyone/Let Us Feel The Hostesses And Not Say Anything.


Onassis Likes Your Money Paid In Cash.


Plane Always Late.


Prayers In the Air.


Queers And Nancies Trained As Stewards/Quench A Nagging Thirst And Sleep/Quite A Nice Trip All Survived/Queer And Nervous Try Another Service. (Originally Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services).


Stay At Home Stay Alive.


Such A Bad Experience, Never Again.


Same As Sabena/Sex And Satisfaction/Scandinavian Alcoholic System (referring to travel to Poland for its cheap vodka)


Stay Off Stay Alive.


Sexy Women In Swissair Services Are Indeed Rare. Not true of course, but then none of this stuff is..


Take A Chance Airlines/Tres Accidentes Cada Ano (Spanish: Three Accidents Counted Annually).


Take Another Plane/Tamancos Aereos Portugueses (Portuguese: Portuguese Airborne Clogs).


Take Another Plane.


Travel With Anxiety/Thousands Wandering Aimlessly/Terrorists Welcome Aboard/The Worst Airline/Try Walking Across/Teeny Weeny Airlines/Third World Airlines.


Unfortunately Still Allegheny In Reality. (USAir was formed by the merger of Allegheny, Lake Central, and Mohawk Airlines. USAir became US Airways and subsequently merged with Piedmont/Empire Airlines and Pacific Southwest Airlines, and later America West Airlines.


Unlikely To Arrive.


Vomite Aqui Seu Porco (Portuguese: Throw Up Here You Pig - a reference to the VASP sick-bag logo)/Varias Aeromocas Sao Putas (Portuguese: 'a number of the air stewardesses are loose women') Again not true of course, like the rest of this silliness..


Whenever It Arrives.


(Acknowledgements to: D Bloemer, M Duncan, M Navaroli, JW, Chin, D Sidwell, D Rawsthorn, M Janes, E Davies, A Wilkinson, G Sargent, T Clarke, L Martin, Glenn Hooper, D Wilson, G Cartledge, B Poulter, E Stenning, L Van Helden, P Messervy, S Fraser, T Meyer, M Alldrick, R Jones, P Short, and J Kelmar for correct QANTAS meaning.)

If know any other notable amusing or clever airlines and aviation acronyms/bacronyms please send them.


corporation backronyms (reverse acronyms from corporation names - 'corporanyms')

Due to the increasing interest, potential and learning value (social, language, public image, staff attitudes, etc) contained in the creation and use of amusing corporation 'backronyms' (or 'corporanyms' to coin a daft new portmanteau word), this section for the corporation backronym genre has been added. New contributions and suggestions gratefully received. These meanings are not true statements of fact. They are a bit of fun and no offence is intended. But if the cap fits any particular CEO's out there... Please note that Airlines and  Automotive acronyms ('backronyms' are listed separately).


After Dinner I Did A Shit. There seems no earthly reason for this to be funny, but strangely to many, including me, it is. Reducing one of the foremost consumer brands of our times to such a trite vulgarity is somehow a very amusing juxtaposition (Ack JR). Other variations include (ack P&J) the similarly daft and amusing A Dog Is Dirty And Smells or A Dog Is Dirty And Shits. For procrastintors everywhere (ack N Spargo) there is All Day I Dither And Squirm, and for the health and hygiene-conscious there is the very silly A Durex Is Disposable After Sex (ack J Quirk). All Day I Dream About Sex is perhaps the best known of these weird ADIDAS backronyms (Ack PF). All Day I Dream About Shoes is another wonderful interpretation (thanks S Morissette). SportSleep, and strangely Spouse, are other extensions (thanks S Chapalkar). If you have others to share please send them.


Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed. Bacronym popularised by the British folk act Show of Hands in the wake of the global banking collapse of 2008, whose song Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed is the title track of their 2009 album, referring to the troubled AIG bank (properly American International Group) and more widely to the dubious behaviour of banks and bankers.


Bugger All. Alternative interpretation of the famous initials allegedly devised by certain British Airways staff in response to the corporation's efforts to reduce salaries during the late noughties recession.


Collection of Small Companies. Alternative interpretation (apparently used by staff) of the CSC company name, which properly stands for Computer Sciences Corporation. The 'Collection of Small Companies' version reflects CSC's operatianal structure, which splits its activities into several business units. (Thanks J Honeycutt)


Drop, Hide and Lose/Drop it, Hide it, Lose it/Don't Hurry Lads. Not true of course. DHL's name in fact derives from its founders' surnames' initials, Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom and Robert Lynn, who formed the company in 1969, initially as a service shuttling bills of lading between San Francisco and Honolulu. A bill of lading is incidentally a document detailing what's being shipped and to whom. Lading is from the word 'lade', which is from Old English 'hladan' traceable back to 725AD, and whose roots were very close to the word load. The word lade is preserved in the modern word laden, meaning loaded with. It's interesting that the company name features three key letters of the ancient English word so closely related to their trade. The pioneering DHL delivery company grew from their modest beginnings into a global organization with reputation to match, becoming along the way (they say) the first to bring air express to the Eastern Bloc countries in 1983 and to the People's Republic of China in 1986. (Thanks M Gregory for Drop, Hide and Lose, S Baker for the Drop it, Hide it, Lose it variation, and C Armer for Don't Hurry Lads.)


Don't Imagine Any Great Employment Opportunities. Not true of course. This 'backronym' (or 'bacronym' - meaning an acronym that is constructed in reverse from a word, rather using initials from a phrase or series of words) does however illustrate the risks of corporate rebranding with a name that invites such creative and mischievous interpretation. Diageo's previous name was Guinness & Grand Metropolitan. The merger of the two organisations hastened the name-change, along perhaps with the fact that the Guinness name had become associated with a major fraud case in the late 1980s following its acquisition of United Distillers in 1986. In any event Guinness & Grand Metropolitan would have offered relatively little scope for constructing a sardonic 'backronym' than Diageo. Incidentally Diageo is apparently Hindi for 'give and live for ever'. Another interpretation is the Latin/Greek combination of dia (day) and geo (earth) equating to the notion that '...every day, everywhere people celebrate our brands'. Alternatively dia could be interpreted as the Greek for 'across', as in 'across the world'. If you know the facts of this matter please tell me. (Thanks JV)


Every New Guy Lasts About Ninety Days. Not the country England - the US trucking company CR England, as explained by the contributor: " the trucking industry in the United States there is a company called CR England. (yes, on the web at My father drove for United Van Lines for many years and other large transport services before that. The 'old hand' drivers had a bit of a joke on the England name (due to the fact that an England truck invariably came up in stories about trucks in ditches or nasty but stupid looking accidents involving stationary objects)...ergo... Every New Guy Lasts About Ninety Days. (Ack S Holden)


Everything To Attract Men. Not, as commonly believed, the actual origin of the famous womenswear chain, which is explained in the main ETAM entry above.


Goes When Ready. Kindly and reverential 'bacronym' popular in the days of the original Great Western Railway, illustrating that the tradition of re-interpreting amusing meanings from company names and initials has been around for at least a half a century. GWR is transferable to other situations, explained in the GWR main listing. The Great Western Railway Company was founded in 1835 initially for the construction of the London to Bristol railway, overseen by the genius Isambard Kingdom Brunel (starting at the ripe old age of 27), including the wonderous Clifton Suspension Bridge completed in 1864 after 30 years' construction and seven years after Brunel's death in 1859. The Great Western Railway Company ceased to operate in 1948 as part of the nationalisation of the British railways in that year. The original Great Wewstern Railway is not to be confused with the more recent re-privatised and much re-named, merged and otherwise convoluted 'First Great Western' company, or 'Worst Late Western' as it is not so fondly referred to by its reluctant victims. The comparison between the playful old 'Goes When Ready' bacronym (actually no bad thing considering modern concerns about safety), and the understandably venomous criticisms made of the modern First Great Western imposter reflects how our essential services have been exploited for profit and political expediency, a situation which persists. When will the daft buggers learn? A lesson for all the arrogant and greedy businessmen and politicians who've enjoyed playing with our national infrastructure like it were one big toy train set is highlighted in the superb fWorst Late Western entry in Uncyclopedia, (although be careful when you visit this website - it poses a greater risk to work productivity than Myspace, Facebook and Bebo put together..)


Hardly At Running Temperature Long. An acronym that's now become a term used generally by certain UK service engineers to describe a machine with consistent problems, break-downs, faults etc., ("Is it a Hartl..."). The origin is apparently from a company called Hartl Crushtek, founded in Austria, which used to manufacture rock crushing machines, typically used in quarries. The machines allegedly developed a reputation for poor reliability, which led, allegedly, to the development of the HARTL reverse acronym (backronym) by the company's service engineers, (as well as the demise of the Hartl Crushtek UK operating subsidiary). (Ack Mark Sandercock)


Holds Every Size Tit In Australia. An obscure-looking acronym ('backronym' actually) until it is explained that the Australian Hestia company is a leading bra maker. Part of the Berlei group, Hestia's own publicity says the company caters for 'every size in Australia', which (whether intentionally or not) effectively provides most of the backronym interpretation. Filling in the missing two words was obviously irresistible to someone. The Hestia website is actually a fascinating example of several aspects of modern marketing, not least the use of irony and humour. Hestia's intriguing advertising campaign (2005-07) is fronted by Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sheridan (example of brand endorsement by a celebrity - 'aspirational marketing'), who in launching the campaign reinforces the Hestia positioning thus, "This campaign is all about support at work! No matter whether you're behind a desk, BBQing, you're hoovering (aka vacuuming) [sic - the translation of hoovering into vacuuming is actually in the quote] or doing a bit of laundry. It's all about feeling good, and you feel great when you are wearing a Hestia.." (example of market positioning and ironic - we assume ironic - use of the 'women at work' theme). The Hestia website also enables the visitor to see the TV advert featuring Ms Sheridan and some behind-the-scenes footage of the photo-shoot (use of internet technology and likely viral marketing techniques - 'titillation' marketing - titillation is actually from Latin, in case you were wondering, and nothing to do with breasts). The Hestia name was chosen by founders Edward and Serena Herson in 1940 because their first choice name Vesta was already registered (example of importance of branding and registration of trademarks). Incidentally both Vesta and Hestia are derived from Roman/Greek mythology: Hestia is the Ancient Greek goddess of the hearth and home. Vesta is the Roman goddess of the hearth, which in Roman mythology also related to the alter and fire, (hence also Swan Vesta matches - there are many other examples of the use of mythological names for branding - see some on the puzzles questions page or the answers page). The explanation of these names on the Hestia website could be improved: it refers to 'methology' rather than mythology and says both goddesses are Greek whereas one is Roman (example of the need for sound research and checking copy writing). See it all (apart from the backronym of course) at (Thanks J Nieman for the Hestia backronym)

hestia acronym

hestia acronym

hestia acronym

hestia acronym


Heaps Of Little Dirty Engine Nuts. According to Australian 'backyard' car-maintenance tradition, this acronym is a reference to the parts usually left over after repairing the engine of a Holden car. Aussie 'backyard' mechanics apparently assert that if the nuts are left over, then you didn't need them in the first place... (Ack J Gullefer)


I'm in Blue Material. A 1970s reference to the standard IBM executive's business suit), and I've Been to Manchester(referring to the supposed reluctance of IBM's American executives to travel into bandit country, i.e. more than three miles from central London (ack B Cavalot). Alternatively and amusingly I've Been Moved (ack P Larson). Less imaginatively, It's Better Manually, or It's Been Malfunctioning, and the gratuitously offensive Spanish Immensa Bola de Mierda (huge ball of pooh), which might of course have nothing to do with IBM corporation at all. Additionally (ack S Pusey), It's Being Mended, and Infernal Blooming Machine; neither of which necessarily relate to IBM per se of course. Other non-IBM-corporate interpretations are listed under IBM in the main acronyms listing above.


Take Your Company Over. TYCO is a diverse industrial corporation with a reputation for aggressive development based on making acquisitions. (Thanks S Macleod)


You Always Have Other Options. This alternative bacronym, nothing to do with the website, is actually a wonderful maxim for life. Incidentally Yahoo founders Yang and Filo maintain they only chose the YA (Yet Another) part of the acronym, and then opted for the word Yahoo when it leapt out of the dictionary at them. Other interpretations include: Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle, (which sometimes is attributed wrongly to Yang and Filo, but which was devised afterwards by persons unknown). Also: Yet Another Helpful Operation Origin and Yet Another Hypertext Online Organiser.


If you have other 'corporanyms' that you'd like to share please send them. Please note that Airlines and  Automotive acronyms ('backronyms' are listed separately).

see also