21st Challenge No. 38 Results

The secret life of three-letter acronyms.

By Charlie Varon - Jim Rosenau

Published November 17, 2000 8:49PM (EST)

We abbreviate to save time. Yet this everyday encryption also serves to obscure meaning from outsiders and eventually even from those who once knew what the terms meant. In this challenge, we asked readers to explain the hidden meaning of common three-letter acronyms (TLAs).

One self-described nit-picker reminded us that a real acronym is pronounceable as a word, like SCUBA and laser. We stand corrected, but unbowed. And perhaps one of the best entries, from Dan Norton, came in over the three-letter limit: "PCMCIA -- People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms."


PDA: Public Display of Affluence
-- Keith Amman


CRT: Cheap Radiation Therapy
-- Mark Q. Moore

FTP: Find The Porn
-- Janne More'n

JPG: Just Porn, Gentlemen
-- John Cave

IPO: Idiot's Pyrrhic Optimism
-- Jeff Ryan

SUV: Suburban Uneasiness Vehicle
-- Nancy Ott

PBS: PLEASE Be a Subscriber!
NPR: Not Particularly Radical
RFP: Rigged to Favor Pals
-- Keith Amman

AOL: Amateurs On Line
BMW: Burn My Will
-- Neal Conner

ATM: Addicted To Money
TLA: Terrible Language Additive
-- David Bedno

IRC: Interrupt, Rant, Curse
-- Rafe Brox

MP3: My Profits cut in 3rds
-- B.J.D. Cruz

MP3: Music Pirates Please Pay
-- Dharmo

VCR: Voluntary Commercial Remover
-- Pat Hunt

Thanks for taking our challenge. Look for another one in two weeks.

Charlie Varon

Charlie Varon is a humorist and playwright. His works include "Ralph Nader Is Missing" and "Rush Limbaugh in Night School."

MORE FROM Charlie Varon

Jim Rosenau

Jim Rosenau is a writer, editor and software designer in Berkeley, Calif. Jim and Charlie are also co-founders of the citizens group Californians for Earthquake Prevention and partners in Mockingbird Media, which offers a full line of comic services.

MORE FROM Jim Rosenau

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