Posted by: chlost | May 20, 2011


Yes, I am old. I know that. Although I try to keep up with all that happens in the world, at times I find myself totally bewildered.

Most recently, I found that I was totally stumped by several acronyms which I read in more than one article. I know that they are supposed to make reading and writing easier-just use initials instead of all of those pesky extra letters. But when I have to stop and try to figure out what the letters stand for, it ruins the intended express version of reading.

Okay, I am not totally stupid. I know what LOL means. And it took me just a short time of confusion to figure out LMAO and ROTFL . There is OMG, which I would vote as the most overused of all modern acronyms. There seems to be a few less WTF’s lately, and I have even resorted to using BTW myself occasionally.

All of those acronyms are designed to replace commonly used phrases. Just a few hours on the internet, and almost anyone will figure those out. Well, except my husband, who asked me “WTF does that mean?” when he came across LMAO recently. Well, to be honest, he didn’t use the WTF acronym, but went with the old-fashioned version.

Now I am seeing random letters which make me stop dead in the middle of a paragraph to try to come up with the words to go with the letters.  A few years ago, during the Sotomayor discussions, it took me an embarrassingly long time to come up with the words for the phrase SCOTUS. I’m sorry, but the first thing that those letters bring to mind is an anatomically correct version of WTF.  And I’m a lawyer.

The other day, I came across a sentence which included the term POTUS.  Hmmmm- what could that be? Again, several moments going through the possibilities.  OH! Got it!  Is it really easier to use that five-letter acronym than it would be to use the six-letter abbreviation US Pres? Even I could have gotten that one on the first read through.

There are many, many more of these little quick abbreviations, I know. My nephew tries very hard to spell things out for me when he chats with me on FB (see, I know that one!). He takes pity on me, and it is much easier to just spell it out the first time than it is to try to explain it in a follow-up message.

So, I am not cool. I accept that. I don’t even know if cool still means what I think it means.

But who decides these things….which phrases to use, when to abbreviate, and when/how does it become common knowledge?

b/c btw omg idk wtf  im lmao/rotfl



  1. I have been online longer than a lot of people and I’m pretty sure that the acronyms evolved when bandwith was a lot smaller — you know: the days before DSL and cable. Don’t worry about what you don’t know — it will all change next week anyway! The technology, I’m told, hasn’t achieved its potential and that scares me. How much info is too much info?

    • You are right, and the twitter tech also helped the shortcut revolution, I’m sure. I don’t use Twitter (no surprise).

  2. You can’t be that old hun! I’m getting up there myself, but since hubby and I both work in the aerospace industry, which loves to use acronyms, we’ve been inundated with the damn things. So we make a game of it … see who can guess the new acronym the fastest. I always beat him on the medical stuff though. *grin*

    A funny tidbit courtesy of hubby. He was reading an email from one of the contractors they deal with and the acronym STFU was used frequently. His boss noticed this and quickly became irate … hubby couldn’t figure out why. The contractor was using an acronym for a test article which had been dubbed the “Static Test Fire Unit”. It took him a few minutes to realize his boss thought it meant what all the young folks use … “Shut The F*#& Up”. I got a big giggle out of that one. 🙂

    • Ah, some days I am so much older than others. I work with teens, which means, they either keep you young or they make you feel old.
      Great story!

      • I can relate. I like being around some of the kids our daughter’s age but teens can definitely tire you out. I get a kick out of Darling Daughter’s expression when hubby or I use sayings her contemporaries would. “Mom, did you really just say that?” 😀

      • That is great that you can freak her out! It keeps kids on their toes.

  3. Luckily I am a BIG fan of The West Wing [own the complete series on 45 discs] so I knew SCOTUS and POTUS.

    Love Dragonfae’s story about STFU!

    • Thanks for stopping by. I also love the West Wing show, but either missed or forgot the use of the acronyms.

  4. Hi,
    I’m of the age where I have to really think hard what some of these actually mean, sometimes I just don’t get it. 🙂

    Thank You for the visit to my blog.

  5. I had to look up POTUS. I wonder if someone has thought to take some great works of literature, like “Moby Dick” or something by Shakespeare and convert it to “acronym speak”?

    I spoke with a business manager friend recently who said all his employees under 30 would rather text or e-mail than to speak directly on the phone. I wonder if the phone companies will eventually remove the “sound” feature from phones so all they do is text or e-mail?

    • Oh my … I have to shudder at the thought of Shakespeare done in chat or text speak. Gaah!

      • Will would be turning in his grave……or not? He might find it quite amusing.

  6. I dislike POTUS and SCOTUS, which both sound a little filthy to me.

    I use BTW and a very few others, but not all the laughing variants. Nor do I use WTF – if I want to use the word fuck, I just use it.

    • I agree about the POTUS and SCOTUS. They should have more respectful abbreviations.

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