Monday, October 26, 2020

How's your acronym IQ?

HALLIE EPHRON: I recently posted on Facebook a snapshot of part of a Walgreens ad emblazoned with BOGO. It was only when I read the trailing words, “...50% off,” that I realized BOGO is an acronym.

I posted the snapshot and wrote, “Duh... and all this time I thought BOGO was a brand name.” 

Turns out I’m not alone. The post generated a ton of comments. 

From my friend Patty Jo: “Me, too! Double DUH!” From Edith Maxwell, “I still don’t know what it is!” From our own “Oh, Kaye” (Kaye Wilkinson Barley): “I can tell you guys were not raised by my momma!” 

 My favorite comment came from Margaret Park Bridges, a talented children’s and mystery author who used to be local and has sadly moved away and works for a high tech company (which shall not be named): “This discussion is so funny to me. Having a job for the past year working with almost exclusively Millennials, I have had to learn a million acronyms just to keep up. OG, YOLO, ICYMI, JK, FOMO, BAE, FWIW...!! I may be the hippest 60-something-year-old I know.” 

 I think I know OG and and FWIW. The others? No clue. 

 So how’s your acronym IQ? Been stumped by any lately? 

JENN McKINLAY: I did know BOGO but only because some helpful store put the definition below their ad a few years ago. The Hooligans are 18 and 19, consequently my vibe is so dope, I’m practically lit (at which point, there is an eye roll and a Hooligan says “Lit is so 2017, Mom.”) 

LOL - I know y’all know that one. 

I’m hip to yours, Hallie - You Only Live Once, Fear of Missing Out, etc. and here’s some new ones - T (gossip), TBH (to be honest) - although, nothing good ever follows that one. And then, of course, there’s GOAT (greatest of all time). 

You don’t want to know how confused I was when the dudes kept calling Tom Brady a goat. LOL...er...I mean, I’m “dying”. I’m “dead” (the new slang for LOL). 

RHYS BOWEN: it took me two years to know what POTUS meant! And FLOTUS sounds like something disgusting going down a river. I’ve managed to master BFF, IMHO and even WTF. ( which will not be explained here). 

Are you really concerned that language is going backward to caveman grunts? Writing to hieroglyphics? 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I don’t think it’s that new, Rhys - the Romans invented SPQR, after all! 

I use a few acronyms in my conversation (“BTdubs” is a favorite) but I confess, despite having a just-turned 20 year old, I’m still stumped by some of the acronyms I see. I think Twitter has spread them even more than emails had previously, since YKINYK and IIRC take up a lot fewer letters than “Your Kink is not My Kink” (formerly known as chacun son goût) and If I Recall Correctly. 

Fortunately, for all of those well above the age of hipness, there’s the Urban Dictionary, which is a wonderful resource for all sorts of acronyms and expressions. Be forewarned - if you’re faint of heart, the Urban Dictionary is exceedingly blunt. 

 And my mother and Kaye’s must have been soul sisters, because my mom’s favorite phrase in the world, after “70% off clearance,” was BOGOF. 

HANK PHILLPPI RYAN: I love to guess them, KWIM? 

What’s fascinating is that IRL, they are all only used on social media. We never say them out loud, except for LOL. It’s only on line. Amirite? It’s kinda efficient. 

But it’s a new language, for certain places only. I just google them, and don’t worry about it. I know other stuff. (I did have to look up ICYMI.) 

LUCY BURDETTE: I agree so strongly on FLOTUS Rhys--it’s a disgusting nickname and probably why I discouraged John from running for prez LOL. 

If I need a word for a character I’m writing, I definitely turn to Jenn. I had some 20-somethings look at the boat next to Miss Gloria’s in DEATH ON THE MENU, and she advised me to have them saying the houseboat was “lit,” which was cutting edge at the time. 

Funny I thought your boys calling Tom Brady GOAT meant he was an old goat, which face it, he probably is:). 

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Help! It's Urban Dictionary for me. Although I've had to explain BOGO to my hubby.. I spend all my time trying to be current on British slang. But as I have a teenager in my books, I'd better upgrade my acronyms! (And I agree, FLOTUS is disgusting. And POTUS is pretty bad, too.) 

HALLIE: Yes, I agree, anything ending in OTUS should be abandoned.

So what about the rest of you? Are you double-duhing along with Patty Jo or rolling your eyes at our collective cluelessness? I'll be a lot of those young farts don't know this one: TK. It's what writers put in our manuscripts when we haven't clue what to say.  

90 comments:

  1. Sheesh . . . I knew BOGO but never thought of it as kin to all the other acronyms.
    While I do know a few of them, I am mostly clueless and I have to look them up. But my daughter always knows, so I often just ask her . . . .

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    1. I've got two daughters like that. On call to explain acronyms and tipping procedures on food deliveries and other big mysteries.

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  2. It's all Greek to me. I know BOGO but am woefully behind on all the rest. Heading over to bookmark the Urban Dictionary. I hope my brain does not explode. FWIW - FLOTUS and POTUS both sound like something that should be banned.

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    1. I wonder when POTUS and FLOTUS started. I found this online where, as we know, only truth lies: "Nancy Reagan is thought by many to be the inspiration behind the FLOTUS acronym." I know I wasn't aware of it until the Obamas.

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    2. I remember Nancy Reagan insisting on being called the First Lady (initial caps), but as for the acronym - I don't remember it before the Obamas either. And it took me a couple of readings to figure out what the heck it meant.

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    3. The first time I heard it was that Bill Clinton's security agents referred to him as POTUS. I thought it was a code word they came up with.

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    4. The West Wing tv show was the first time I’d heard of POTUS. 😊

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  3. So funny. When Hallie posted BOGO, I finally figured it out - but now I have forgotten!

    And what about SCOTUS - does anyone else immediately thin of a male private part?

    ROTFLMAO is a favorite. Am off to look up ICYMI, KWIM, BOGOF, BTdubs, GOAT, BAE, and BOGO, once again...

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    1. Yes, to your SCOTUS thought, Edith. As a lawyer I feel the acronym diminishes respect for the law and the all courts. And PLOTUS...ugh... same respect lost. My am I an old fuddy, duddy this morning. Maybe more coffee will help?

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    2. ROTFLAMAO - I had to look it up - Ha ha! Or is that redundant?

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    3. Feel the same about SCOTUS, makes me cringe. Not sure any of these acronyms were around, or perhaps commonly used would be a better way to put it, before Twitter. 140 characters or less. Washington, DC has always been big on acronyms.

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    4. I feel really dumb, but I still don't get BAE, and it's not in Urban Dictionary. Help!

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  4. I spend enough time online that I know most of the acronyms. I have had a beef with BOGO for the past few years though, because I would swear that when it started being used, it was almost always with an implied "free" at the end. Now I have to read carefully, because it is often some percentage so low as to be non-motivating.

    The other thing I find amusing is that of all the acronyms listed above, one that was NOT spelled out was BAE, and while I generally know what it means, I have never known what the actual words are behind the acronym. I would be grateful to hear that one!

    Oh, one last funny note. We live near a suburb called Powell, and a coworker of my husband is married to the mayor of Powell. Hubby has taken to calling her FLOP (First Lady of Powell) and occasionally, referring to the husband as MOP (Mayor of Powell.) He says they have a lot of fun with FLOP and MOP references on Zoom calls with other unsuspecting coworkers.

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    1. Yes, I agree on BOGO - you rarely see an actual Buy One Get ONE... Same with coupons. So chintzy you have to buy THREE to get one free. (I only NEED one!) Or it's $5 off if you spend $90.

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    2. Love FLOP and MOP - and when hubs leaves office, they will make the perfect names for family pets! I'm envisioning Yorkies.

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    3. Apropos of nothing: We once had cats named Flotsam and Jetsam.

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  5. This is kinda fun even though I am totally not up to date with most although I learned BOGO early and am always on the lookout for it. When I see them I try to figure them out but usually can't. So many times I see SMH and I have to wonder exactly what is meant -shaking my head? so much hate? Equally could apply I think. When I heard what FOMO was, fear of missing out, I realize I have FORO. Anyone? Think toilet paper. Fear of running out.

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    1. Judi, you nailed it. I am not the only one still fearful of running out. FORO, perfect!

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    2. FORO! Going to use it now and mystify friends and family. Thanks, Judi!

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  6. Hallie, I was also someone who commented on your BOGO post, saying I didn’t know. I’m not well versed at all in acronym use in social media. I know YOLO, IMHO, GOAT, ROTFLMAO, BFF, WTF, POTUS, and FLOTUS. I have to Google a lot.

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    1. What did we do before Google? And cell phones. And...

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  7. I know most of them, courtesy of my kids (now 20 and 18) and their texts. I did, however, have to ask them if "AF" (as in, "I'm drunk AF") meant what I thought it meant - and I was right.

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  8. Totally ignorant and clueless when it comes to acronyms! For years, years before texting and Twittering arrived, just a blind spot. Worked with multiple government agencies and never got any of the acronyms of any of their programs or reports. As for BOGO even with multiple reminders from ever patient friends, I still stumble. Happy Monday, all.

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  9. It's a whole new language to learn. All I can say is, thank goodness for the Urban Dictionary. I have Google on speed dial (as it were).

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    1. Ha ha ha! "Speed dial" - that's a blog for another day, all of those outdated expressions and dead appliances.

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  10. I just read an article about gen x, y, and z plus gen alpha, since we're all experts on demographic cohorts.

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    1. THAT is something I never get straight. The gens... I remember realizing I was a "boomer." Who knew?

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    2. What is Gen Alpha? Is that after Gen Z?

      Me, I'm a Gen X'er and proud of it.

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  11. Too early--but with two twenty-somethings in the household, I've had more than my share of eye-rolls over acronyms. Though I can figure some of them out from the context. And I think, IMHO, that Flotus and Potus are particularly apt for the present occupants of a certain white house.

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    1. IMHO, I was thinking the same thing, Flora!

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    2. I refer to him as SCROTUS. Use your imagination

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    3. Wish we had a Ha-ha button or something like it here!

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  12. Although I knew BOGO, I never even thought to look them up. WTF! That is welcome news!

    Well, from here to the Urban Dictionary. I was going to write down all the ones mentioned here, but if there is a dictionary, then I can just keep looking it up over and over until it makes sense.

    My dad's initials were BAG and I used to tease him by using the word on occasion. He was pretty good about it.

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    1. My initials growing up were HE. I hated it but fortunately no one else noticed.

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    2. Mine, growing up, were GS. I told folks I paid extra to have my Girl Scout cookies monogrammed.

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    3. My sister had a baby boy and named him Ben. His last name started with O! To this day, more than 40 years later I doubt she ever saw what she did. I always seemed to be aware of things that no one else thought twice about.

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  13. My acronym IQ is nearing 0. Not being on social medias and not having young people around, even in French, I rarely know their meanings, in English less so.
    After reading post and comments, I had to check BOGO and some others. It happened more than once that I asked for the meaning of acronyms here on the blog.
    I remember stopping reading a book containing too many acronyms. It was slowing me down and it interfered the flow of the story.

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    1. I wonder, are native French speakers awash in acronyms these days, too - or have they managed to hold the line?

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    2. The younger ones use them a lot.

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  14. Like the police, ( and Kristopher) TV has BOLO. And have we listed OTOH? And OOB? ( sadly useful these days) and the reviewers dreaded TSTL.

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  15. And I have to say ROTFLMAO it’s so silly. It is too long to be an acronym :-)

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    1. And it sounds like a character from a Harry Potter novel.

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    2. Also silly: LOLOLOLOL Laughing out loud out loud out loud? No.

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    3. Karen, try TFF, "too f...ing funny" instead.

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    4. Thanks, Judy! That will come in handy, especially with my daughters, who will get a big kick out of it.

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    5. SO agree, Karen! That drives me crazy. :-)

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  16. Thanks so much Hallie for a really good Monday morning laugh, it's grey up here in the North East so a laugh is necessary. Which brings me to LOL! It took me ages, simply ages to understand that one, and it's one of the oldest, with BOGO, I think. Because for me LOL is Lots of Love! Yes, I'm old.

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    1. LOL: Lots of Love! Yup, that's what it used to be here, too.

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  17. I think we need ASOJR
    (As said on Jungle Reds)

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  18. IKR?

    Celia, in the early days of Internet communication I "met" Roberta, who lives in the Chicago area. We eventually met in person, and became such good friends that I had my own room in her big, rambling house in Evanston, where I stayed nearly once a year. Roberta saw "LOL", and thought it meant "lots of love", so that's how she always signed her emails. And after we found out what it really meant, we still sign them that way, only as "our LOL".

    BOGO was publicized by one of those bargain shoe outlets that no longer exist, self-service with shoe boxes piled to your eyebrows.

    GOAT always makes me think twice. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

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  19. I wonder which of these new ones will become words in the lexicon? Like sonar and laser and nimby.

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    1. FUBAR is a personal favorite. SNAFU has entered the language as a word, too, although it originally meant Situation Normal--All (well, you understand.)

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    2. Those are military acronyms from WWII, I think.

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    3. I had a funny experience with FUBAR. In a college stats class I got randomly partnered with a couple jocks for a project. They were looking for a team name and I suggested FUBAR, which I knew because my dad was in WWII. They liked it and we used it. The prof, a steely older gentleman, looked at it, peered at us above his glasses for a moment, and said, "I'm old enough to remember World War II, you know." (At this point, I saw my project partners squirm fearfully.) Then the prof continued. "So I guess FOULED up beyond all recognition it is, then." With the hugest twinkle in those previously steely eyes.

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    4. One of my brother's friends managed to get FUBAR on his Connecticut license tag. Everyone thought it was hysterical, but at age 11, I had no idea. I kept asking what it meant until finally my brother told me, For Us Boys, Another Round. I also worked for a woman whose Florida Tag read LHOOQ - a French acronym of sorts.

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  20. Clueless! Trying to figure that is a good thing or bad. It does show I don't have translators readily available. PSPS is a way of life right now in California and even though I know want they are talking about, I still tend to stop and think. I will be spending sometime in the Google world later today.

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  21. Hallie, I love this post. Had me laughing from the start.

    And Rhys? You mean WTF doesn't mean Wisconsin Tourism Foundation? I understand they once paid good money to have a logo designed featuring only their initials.

    I, too, am BFFs with the Urban Dictionary. I thought I was reasonably conversant until I saw some of the acronyms you ladies posted today. I've hung out with enough police officers and nurses to get many of those: DRT, CTD, PIA, etc. My major source of acronym pain right now is all the HUD and PCD nonsense in the latest draft of my sister's next science fiction novel. How am I supposed to understand acronyms for tech that hasn't been invented yet?

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  22. My brother-in-law, Peter Maslowski, is a military historian who has written several books, including one called Armed with Cameras, about the aerial combat cameramen in WWII. His dad was one, and it's a great book about that then-new way of finding out what the enemy was doing. Pete interviewed dozens of veteran photographers and shared their fascinating stories. They shared the rear of the plane with the tail gunners, so there were some hairy situations, as you can imagine.

    But I had such a hard time reading it. He used so many military acronyms that I kept getting lost in the weeds. The military is lousy with shortcuts!

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  23. POTUS was introduced to the American viewing public in the first episode of West Wing. Josh had just spent the night with a very personable law student (who was paying her way as a call girl, but that's another story). While he was in the shower, his phone beeped, and she read the message: "POTUS has had a bike accident." The resulting conversation went something like this.
    Girl: Your friend POTUS has a funny name.
    Josh: He's not my friend, he's my boss. And it's not his name, it's his job. He's the President of the United States.

    I looked it up--West Wing debuted in 1999.

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    1. Weren't POTUS and FLOTUS originally used by the Secret Service?

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    2. I think the usage goes way back.

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  24. I feel like I know most of them. But occasionally I will come across one that stumps me.

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  25. Department of useless facts: an OTUS is a horned/short eared owl. Also a giant from Greek mythology

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  26. I learned POTUS from the very first episode of The West Wing. LOL

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  27. Sorry I am late to the party. I learned the term POTUS and FLOTUS when I worked for Al Gore.

    Speaking of BOGO, I have no clue what that is - a pair of shoes? I have seen ads for that on TV. Or is it the name of a dog?

    Diana

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    1. Diana, I think the dog was Bingo! As for POTUS, the first time I heard it was Clinton's security detail called him that.

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  28. I know BOGO from shoe store sales years ago. LOL and LMAO are pretty recent. WTF seems to be daily now. POTUS, etc all take a minute to remember what the heck that is. I happen to like the military acronyms SNAFU and FUBAR. ASAP is one I learned back in the 80s when I started working at a CPA firm.

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  29. I admit I didn't read all the previous comments, way too many. I'll just add that nearly all of the acronyms (?) are silly and eventually go away (except LOL which I hoped would) and that's fine with me. Speak in words, I say, and use some correct grammar if possible!

    - Grumpy old (75 birthday today) Rick

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  30. IMHO, what's standard English today will soon seem as ancient as Chaucer's.

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  31. Way back in the day, at my first professional job as a tech writer for a defense contractor, my boss handed me a thick binder, told me it contained all the Navy acronyms, and I had 48 hours to memorize them or I'd lose my job. So I lugged the binder home on the bus, and God help my naive self, gave it a go. Turned out my boss (an older male) was 'pranking' me (a 22 year old.) I'll never forget the first acronym I memorized: ACDUTRA. (Active Duty Training.) And... though I forgot all the other acronyms I learned (I got about halfway through the A's before I caught on to the 'prank'), I also learned how to better assess bosses.

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  32. I don't think anyone mentioned another WWII acronym: SNAFU. Pretty much the same as FUBAR.

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