Those Pesky Little Acronyms

A post over at My Brand of Genius this morning regarding medical/insurance woes, tossed me back into my lovely little world of acronyms and reminded me that often, acronyms reveal what those who wish to murky the waters are trying to disguise –

From this post came the following revelation:

“We just received our Revised Aetna Policy Exclusions (R.A.P.E.) today. ” Read the Full Story Here

I read this and wondered who over at Aetna would ultimately get fired for letting such a titled brochure with the bad-for-image resulting acronym out the door and into the world.

Wonder if we’ll ever know?


Some few years ago, I built the website for a local political candidate – and did the artwork.    His platform was Leadership, Integrity and Experience…


So we mixed up the words to create


Which, while maybe not serious enough for a political campaign, did help voters to envision a vacation in Paradise if only they chose correctly –

Hey!  Hey!  I never said I was a marketing guru!   🙂


Even further back in my work history, I worked for a place where my ‘new-hire-orientation’ packet contained a page (or two, can’t quite remember now) of two column, small font-sized acronyms to learn, so I could quickly and concisely communicate with my new co-workers.

Over the months, I learned that most new hires must not be memorizing those lists and the old war horses apparently didn’t know half of the acronyms either – so I started inserting my own acronyms during team meetings and project updates to see who would notice…


(Fat Finger Mistakes)


(Head up Ass)


(Returns on Wasted Money)


(Pot-stirring Gold Bricker)

I only got caught on the one I freely confessed – FFM.

I once even slid a couple of WTFs into my presentation and no one even noticed – you too, can do this.  The trick is to say it with calm clarity, no pause and continue on as if nothing untoward has happened…

Try it sometime, it’s loads of fun.


Turn the clock back even further and you would have found me recently stationed at a new dispatch center – one surrounded by other agencies that had decided to use “Clear Speech” instead of the antiquated 10 code (10-4 = Okay,  10-50PI – Traffic Accident with Injuries, etc.)

My first night, I receive a call from the local sheriff’s office informing me of a TA on north I-25.

“Isn’t that yours?” I inquire, because  my mind, used to “10-50”, translated TA into Tits and Ass – a streaker.   I knew State Patrol did not cover streakers and was wondering just  why the sheriff’s office was calling me.  And a little stunned at the vulgarity of relaying calls, but figured maybe the night shift was a tad lax here.

After a brief huff & discussion over jurisdictional lines and areas of expertise, my mind finally translated TA into “traffic accident” – I shared my inner thoughts with the somewhat disgruntled dispatcher on the other end of the phone line and a wonderful new working relationship was formed over my lack of acronym deciphering abilities.


I think of the cruelty of elementary and junior high children who make up acronyms to keep secrets from those not in their ‘group’.  Or to make fun of others.

And the acronyms thrown around when your parents don’t want you to know what they’re talking about.

Oh, wait, they were probably actually spelling real words….

But safe to say, we simply are hard wired to love and use acronyms –

And if we aren’t careful, acronyms can tell the truths our pompous sounding phrases are trying to hide…

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