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Subject: acronyms and abbreviations dictionary

acronyms and abbreviations dictionary

free acronyms and abbreviations finder and definitions - business, training, medical, military, technical, funny - acronyms and abbreviations meanings

This is a free acronyms and abbreviations finder, and 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.

Due to the increasing popularity of this website and this webpage, the adult content, and the worst examples of politically incorrect acronyms previously on this page have been removed.

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.

'backronyms' ('bacronyms')

Other acronyms have meanings, usually amusing and ironic, which have been formed in reverse, ie., by starting with a word, especially a brand name, treating it as an acronym, and finding words to fit each of the letters, for example the acronyms ACRONYM and YAHOO. The amusing term for these types of acronyms is 'backronyms' (or 'bacronyms'), which is a portmanteau word (in this case combining the words 'back' and 'acronym'). 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.

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 1940's (notably the 2nd World War), and a few probably the early 1900's (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, and again, 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 and abbreviations main listing

acronyms, abbreviations, menmonics, bacronyms for learning and amusement


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.


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. Great for dinner parties and smart-asses. (Ack. Ralph Johnston.)


Absurdly Contrived Representations Of Names Yielding Mass Stupefication. As above.. (Ack 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..."


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


??..... Overcome/Overtaken By Events?? 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. If you know what it stands for please let me know. On the front of the Jeep the acronym SNAFU can be seen above the radiator grille. (Thanks Lorna for these lovely 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 apparently used in this way in US Defense and the US Defense contracting environment, logically referring to plans or situations rendered obsolete for the reason implied. Apparently novelist Tom Clancy has used the term in this context.)

 SNAFU world war II picture   aeobe_acronym_pic


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. If your sales, advertising or any effort designed to motivate others to action doesn't follow this sequence it won't succeed. Also extended version AIDCA - the 'C' is for Commitment or Conviction (on the part of the customer or audience). Also known as the Hierarchy of Effects, but HOE doesn't have quite the same ring as AIDA.


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. 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.


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)


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.


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)


Business To Business. Widely used business- and marketing-speak, describing a trading model where a business supplies other businesses. B2C is logially therefore Business To Consumer; B2G is Business To Government, and then it gets really silly: B2E is Business To Everybody; B2A is Business To Anybody; and B2B2C is Business To Business To Consumer.


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.


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 importnat 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 but there seems to be no indication of where and when the the BENDWIMP acronym first appeared and who devised it. If you know please tell me.


Big Hairy-Arsed 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/etc. Toned down a little. 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.


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


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 dislike the make 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'.


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) to become British Airways. (ack ET) More aviation acronyms are in the airlines acronyms list below.


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


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


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.


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.


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 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. (Ack J O'Connor)


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)


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 1870's Brewer, so it's not a recent expresssion.


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.


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).


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 interferring bosses everywhere. (Ack J Attison)


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.


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)


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.


Cost Per Thousand, Cost 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. 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)


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. Latin for 'Seek and and you shall find'. Highly civilised and academic alternative to GAAFOFY, and WIOFYFS.


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


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... See the airlines and aviation backronyms list. (Ack M Navaroli)


Don't Expect Any Great Employment Opportunities. Not true of course... See the full entry in the corporation backronyms ('corporanyms') list.


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.


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 1980's. 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, 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 - 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). A couple of things of note: 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; secondly dyslexia sufferers commonly have special strengths resulting from the way their brains work, notably in problem-solving, innovation, creativity, trouble-shooting, entrepreneurialsism, 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. Employers, teachers, and individuals seeking more information should visit the BDA website.


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 seems to feature particularly on rubber wrist bands, and is now 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 1960's, 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.. "


Don't Read If Busy. Only the email generation could have developed the need for such an acronym....


Define, Review, Identify, Verify, Execute. Influential and useful acronym within the Quality Management field. (See Quality Management process improvement tools.)


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)


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)


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.


Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale. Retail acronym. Extension of EPOS (Electronic Point Of Sale), whereby the retailer or seller point of sale system allows payment by electronic credit or debit method via connection to a central banking agency. (Ack L Starkey)


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. (ODSA) Healthcare acronym. A way of examining the bile ducts/gall bladder and pancreatic ducts using an endoscope. However, 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 mischievious interpretation: Emergency Retrograde Clerking of Patient. (ack ET)


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.


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 1200's. Words and language might change over time, but the sound of a fart is one of life's more enduring features.


Final Acceptance Testing. Marketing or product development technical term. Crucial stage often overlooked by egocentric owner-managers and corporate chieftens, expensive designers and advertising agencies, politicians and millennium commissioners, etc, who become seduced by their own magnificence, and make disasterous assumptions on behalf ordinary people who then decide not to buy/vote/turn up etc. (Ack. Don Clark)


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)


Forget Everything and Run. One of the best reverse acronyms ever devised (bacronym is the modern term). (Ack A Davice) It's 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. Alternative acronym meaning if you want to suggest that 'it's all in the mind': False Evidence Appearing Real (Ack Zig Ziglar).


Forget It and Drive On. An acronym made populr 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. Apply it to any situation where the oldest go first and the newest stay longest; rather like the HR policies of many large organizations...


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. Superb acronym with Australian origins 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)


Fanatical, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. Alternative ironic acronym response to the universal question, 'How are you?.....' (Ack D Jenkins). FINE carries an alternative meaning: 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. (Ack K Freeman)


Find Inform Restrict Extinguish. One of those wonderful acronyms in which the new word actully 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)


First In Stays Here. Stock control expression, similar to FIST. (Ack A Chapman - no relation)


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)


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)


Fat Little Ugly Fellow. Polite version. For a short boss with Napoleonic syndrome. (Ack D Harrison)


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...


Fast Moving Consumer Goods. Nothing to do with skills development, just an acronym that lots of people have heard and don't know what it means.


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.


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.


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)


Free On Board. 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 by the Free On Board original (and quite old) meaning. When language doesn't make obvious sense people are apt to change it, which is how language evolves, which is okay so long as explanations are given. If you use or hear the term it's sensible to clarify precise meaning. More explanation about FOB in the financial terms section.


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


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.


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)


Go Away And Find Out For Yourself. 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 posters page.


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.


God Alone Knows. Originally British First World War doctor's shorthand on a traumitised 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.


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)


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) If you can read Swedish these's more about GMY here.


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. (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)


Guardian Reader Of Limited Intelligence, Ethnic Skirt. (ODSA) See FLK and other ODSA's. 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)


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


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).


High Involvement Product. A marketing term for a product which requires a high amount of thought before purchase, cars, holidays, etc. By definition the selling approach must be different for HIPs compared to FMCG's and LIP's for instance.


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...


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.


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 empathy and Transactional Analysis.


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 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.


Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd. Ingvar Kamprad, from a place called Elmtaryd, in Agunnaryd, Sweden, founded the IKEA retail chain. Not a lot of people know that. Great quiz question. (Thanks SJ for the spelling correction)


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 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...


Initial Public Offering. Stock Exchange and corporate acronym for the initial sale of privately owned equity (stock or shares) in a company via the issue of shares to the public and other investing institutions. In other words an IPO is the first sale of stock by a private company to the public. IPOs are typically small, young companies raising capital to finance growth. For investors IPO's can risky as it is difficult to predict the value of the stock or shares when they open for trading. An IPO is effectively 'going public' or 'taking a company public'.


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)


Jump And Pump All Night. Australian origins apparently. Various applications. (Ack R Knight)


Just Flipping Do It. 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. JFDI is a must for management training, time management and a maxim for self-reliance and empowerment.


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. Pertains normally to resource and stock-holding planning the aim of which is to reduce to a torturous knife-edge minimum an organization's cash tied up in non-productive activities. Alternatively represented by the description 'disaster waiting to happen'. Use freely and scornfully wherever you see such examples. Use variations by adding suffixes with the initial letters of the particular starved resource (eg 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.


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 Sweet, Keep It Simple Sunshine, Keep It Simple and Straightforward, Keep It Simple Sister, Keep 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:


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)


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. Should technically be LABTSEOR, but it would never have caught on. (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)


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)


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)


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?


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


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.


Master of Business Administration. Not everyone knows what this actully 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..

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 About (or Wandering Around). 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 it's 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 1940's (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 1950's onwards by David Packard and William Hewlett, the founders of Hewlett Packard (who incidentally 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 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 Wandering Around and Listening. Extension of the MBWA management technique.


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 habits, Carter-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. See Pareto Principle (The 80:20 Rule). (Ack PL)


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)


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 1980's.


Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes. Again, one of those acronyms whose origins are not widely known.


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. For glory-hunters and autocrats everywhere. (Ack. L Speden)


Nota Bene. Abbreviation of the Latin expression commonly used in explanatory writing, literally meaning 'observe well'.


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.


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 section for 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.


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.


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.


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.


Not Quite Right. (ODSA) Nurses' shorthand acronym to describe a patient in such condition. Useful abbreviation that is perfectly 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)


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. 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's taken 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...


Order of the British Empire. In years gone by OBE also carried the meaning One Button Exposed - a reference to a man's open trouser fly. (Ack P&J and N Spargo).


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)


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.


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.


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.


Phase Alternate Line. Television standard developed by the BBC, to be 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. (Ack DH). See also SECAM. Also Paid for Added Luxury, which is a reference to the (then) extra cost of the 'delay line' required to make the PAL receiver work (Ack Mike). Also Price/Availability List, and lots of others too mundane to mention.


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. (ack S Billbess)


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 1980's 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 1800's. (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.


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


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.


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


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. See the free PEST analysis template. See also 'SWOT'.


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 and DISFOB.


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)


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).


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'.


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.


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

  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.


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:


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.


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 Model: Results, 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).


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.


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.


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?)


Respondez S'il Vous Plait. 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 recognisably, 'reply please', since 's'il vous plait' has long meant 'please' in French, literally from the earlier full construction of 'if it pleases you'. The practice of using French phrases in English society etiquette dates from hundreds of years ago when French was used in the English royal court, which underpinned the tendency for certain features of French lifestyle and language to have been adopted by the 'aspiring' English classes. The word 'etiquette' itself is of course fittingly French. (Thanks MK for pointing out this omission)


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.


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.


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. (Ack M Andrews)


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.


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)


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.


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)


Single Income Two Children Oppressive Mortgage. For consumer customer profiling, Maslow Hierarchy of Needs examples, etc.


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.


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. 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.


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.


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 1970's US rock band, SNAFU (obviously). 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.


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. (ODSA) Commonly used medical acronym when writing patient histories. The abbreviation is occasionally doubled-up for amusing effect to describe a particularly obnoxious patient with the complaint, ie., SOB - SOB. (SOB alternatively and perhaps more conventionally means Son Of a Bitch.) (Ack DC)


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 international 'Mayday' radio distress call for help, which was originally transmitted in morse code by mariners in peril and otherwise endangered folk. For interest here is the Mayday word origin.


Situation analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action, Control. SOSTAC® is a business marketing planning system developed by writer and speaker PR Smith in the 1990's. 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. (ack PR Smith and T Rowe)


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


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. (Ack R Oakley)


Situation, Problem, Implication, Need. One of the most enduring selling acronyms, developed by Neil Rackham during the 1970's-80's; the SPIN® Selling model is still a mainstay of his Huthwaite International training organization. The SPIN® selling process remains an extremely useful method for sales discussion with a prospective customer. Huthwaite actually say 'Need-payoff' instead of 'Need', but 'SPINP' just doesn't have the same cachet..... Incidentally, please note that the copyright rights in Neil Rackham's book, SPIN Selling, are owned by Huthwaite, Inc., ( Depending upon the geographic territory, the rights in the trademarks SPIN® and SPIN SELLING® are owned by either Huthwaite Inc of the US, or Huthwaite International of the UK. Be advised that 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.


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).


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)


Subject, Target, Emotion, Perception, Plan, Pace, Adapt/Act. The STEPPPA (or altenatively referred to as STEPPA) aconym represents a coaching (notably life-coaching in a business context) model 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:


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.


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)


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.


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 Dimension(s) In Space. Dr Who's company car, so to speak. I'm unsure as to whether it's one or a number of dimensions. Perhaps someone will clarify?...


Tired All The Time. (ODSA). Great for dead products, over-used ideas, lazy employees, old dogmas and philosophies, the list goes on....

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. Used to emphasise the need for concentration and focus, by the England rugby coaching staff.


Together Everyone Achieves More. A simple truth, and a great acronym for training and team building. (Ack C Keeble) Alternatively Teach Everyone About Motivation. (Ack M Andrews)


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.


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.


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.


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)


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)


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)


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)


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.


Total Quality Control. Forerunning theory from the 1970's 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 1950's. 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.

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)


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.


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 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 nusing, and widely applicable elsewhere. (Ack KP)


Unidentified Four Letter Acronym. Companion acronym to UTLA.


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. It's essential to discuss it in these terms with your customer.


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.


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.


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. 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 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. (See APB)


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.


What's In It For Me? The essential element of all successful communications, and the principle of persuasion and influence. If there's nothing in it for the other person, they may hear but they won't really listen, and without the WIIFM factor they'll never commit to action. An example of the WIIFM factor in selling: 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. 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?..."


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.


Waste Of Flipping Time And Money. Originated in the Australian Army and now deservedly in wider use. Eg, "I have to work the weekend on the latest company WOFTAM project." (Ack L Speden)


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.


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


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're On Your Own. Obvious and wide-ranging uses, particularly for those moments when someone's digging a hole for themselves or trying to flog a dead horse. Also a great partner acronym for JFDI, to reinforce the notion of self-determination and self-reliance. (Ack. Don Clark)


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 listing

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.


Double Income No Kids Yet.


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.


Lazy Ignorant Fool Expecting Retirement.


Middle-aged Urban Professional.


One Income, No Kids Yet.


One Recent Child, Heavily In Debt.


Running A Business And Doing A Degree.


Rich Ordinary Briton.


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.


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)


All Well On Leaving.


Away With The Fairies.


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 mischievious interpretation: Emergency Retrograde Clerking of Patient.


Fat And Stupid.


Funny Looking Kid.


Funny Looking Kid, Funny Looking Parents.


Fornicates Regularly And Chain Smokes.


God Alone Knows.


General Body Crumble.


God Only Knows.


Get Out of My Emergency Room.


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)


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.


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


Pupils Equal And Reacting To Light.


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


Permanent and Irrecoverable State of Alcoholism.


Shortness Of Breath.


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


Tired All The Time.


Tried Everything Else?..Try Homeopathy.


Take Out Back And SHoot.


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. I no longer publish rude acronyms on this page.


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:


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


Beautiful Engine, Needs To Last Endless Years.


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/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')


Best Scrap Available.


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


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/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.


God The Insurance.


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.


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.


Made At Zoo by Demented Apes.


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.


Mostly Garaged/Money Gone/Mighty Good.


Musical Gear Box Grinds Teeth.


Old Ladies Driving Slowly Making Others Behind Increasingly Late Everyday.


Powerful Incendiary, Neatly Toasts Occupants.


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.


(Ack 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)

If you have other automotive or car acronyms please send them. I no longer publish rude acronyms on this page.


airlines and aviation acronyms

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 organisations featured in the list, even though some no longer exist. A few of these acronyms ('backronyms' or 'bacronyms' more correctly) 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. No offence is intended:


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.


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.


Economy Airline Slows Your Journey Every Time.


Every Landing Always Late.


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.


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


Plane Always Late.


Queers And Nancies Trained As Stewards. (originally Queensland And Northern Territory Air Service).


Stay At Home Stay Alive.


Such A Bad Experience, Never Again.


Same As Sabena.


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.


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.


(Ack M Duncan, M Navaroli, JW, Chin, D Sidwell, D Rawsthorn, M Janes, E Davies, A Wilkinson, G Sargent, T Clarke, L Martin)

If you have other notable airlines and aviation acronyms please send them. I no longer publish rude acronyms on this page.


corporation backronyms (reverse acronyms from corporation names)

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).


Don't Expect 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 1980's 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'.


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. (Anyone know the true origin of the ETAM ladies fashion chain name? Let me know.)


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)


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 1970's 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.


You Always Have Other Options. 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. 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. I no longer publish rude acronyms on this page. Please note that Airlines and Automotive acronyms ('backronyms' are listed separately).


If you've found these acronyms amusing and thought provoking, see also:

amusing and fascinating origins of words, expressions and cliches

word-play puzzles and games for quizzes and exercises

amusing and inspirational stories and analogies for training, public-speaking and writing

the funny letters to Islington Council's Housing Department

real funny insurance claims

real funny Weakest Link answers

real funny Family Fortunes Answers

and the various free amusing, educational and inspirational resources on the main businessballs website, if you are not already there


The use this material is free provided copyright (see below) is acknowledged and reference or link is made to the website. This material may not be sold, or published in any form. Disclaimer: Reliance on information, material, advice, or other linked or recommended resources, received from Alan Chapman, shall be at your sole risk, and Alan Chapman assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions, or damages arising. Users of this website are encouraged to confirm information received with other sources, and to seek local qualified advice if embarking on any actions that could carry personal or organisational liabilities. Managing people and relationships are sensitive activities; the free material and advice available via this website do not provide all necessary safeguards and checks. Please retain this notice on all copies.

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