A handful for your collection
J.P. Beaumont, a character in J.A. Jance’s Partner in Crime, tells this story:
The idea that an organizational program might be named after excrement hardly screams fiction. One of my clients swears that someone in her shop named a company program only to change the appellation when the acronym turned out to spell FECES.
When words collide
A participant in one of my webinars shares an acronym that “sounds bad to me but probably sounds fine to everyone else.” That’s NEP, for her organization’s nutrition and exercise physiology program.
“I’m originally from the Netherlands, and the word ‘nep’ in Dutch means fake,” she writes. “So when I see them writing about the achievements of the ‘fake’ program, it just doesn’t sound right.”
No, it wouldn’t.
World’s worst acronyms
Noah Shachtman, a contributing editor at Wired magazine, collects the “Most Awesomely Bad Military Acronyms Ever (MAMAs, for short).” Among them:
- C-SMURF: Consequence Management Response Force
- ÉCLAIR: Extensible Contr Lang for Adv Info LRetr
- LOCO: Local Control of Chemistry
- MARVEL: Modeling Adversary Reactions, Validating Experiment Limitations
- PENGWUN: Protocol Emulation for Next Generation Wireless Networks
- PAWPRNT: Progressive Advanced Wideband Processor/Real-Time Net-Centric Tracker
When acronyms congregate
It’s not necessarily any one acronym, but a collection of them that makes your eyes glaze over. David Harris Lewis, one of my favorite correspondents, sent me this headline and deck “for your collection of truly bad headlines”:
XPS – Accelerate your ROI in EWM through native SAP small parcel and LTL shipping
Announcing Catalyst SAP Supply Chain Management Webinar Series!
“Now, where was I?” Dave writes. “Oh, yeah, managing my supply chain.”
Make up your own acronyms.
When the SHIT and FECES start to fly, some of my friends at FedEx start making up their own acronyms. They’ll mention TLA and FLAW and watch their colleagues try to puzzle out what they mean.
Those acronyms, of course, stand for three-letter acronym and four-letter acronym word.