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Acronyms: communication by abbreviation

Moseyin’ Along

May 8, 2013
By Joyce Schenk - COLUMNIST ( , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

There was a time when I thought our growing alphabet soup-style of communication had started with the government. After all, they're the folks who dreamed up such quick references as FBI for Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS for Internal Revenue Service.

But recently I came across an article reporting acronyms - those little made up abbreviations formed from initial characters in a phrase or name - came in to play with the early Hebrews and Greeks. Bible scholars have actually pointed out abbreviated references used before the time of Jesus.

Still, though acronyms had their origins back in history, their use has exploded in recent years. From Public Broadcasting (PBS) to plumbing (PVC pipe), from medicine (EKG) to the Military (AWOL), every field of interest, every segment of society has developed its own collection of shorthand phrases.

But, it's not these official acronyms I find most interesting in society's huge collection of made-up labels. Instead, I keep an eye out for the imaginative words created to designate groups of people.

The first of these tags we all became aware of, of course, was YUPPIE. That collection of letters continues to stand for Young Upwardly Mobile Professionals.

Since that designation became an accepted part of our national vocabulary, it has been joined by a huge dictionary of similar group-defining acronyms.

These days, there are lettered names for almost every segment of our population from teens to seniors.

The younger generation has been labeled with such terms as SKIPPIEs - School Kids With Income, Purchasing Power - and FLYERs - Fun Loving Youth en Route to Success.

Adult groups have earned such names as MAFFIEs - Middle Aged Affluent Folks - and MOSSIEs - Middle Aged, Over Stressed Semi-affluent Suburbanites.

Many other groups have also gained their place in the acronym jungle with the following tags: DINKs, Double Income, No Kids; DIMPs, Dual Income, Money Problems; FEMALEs, Formerly Employed Mothers at Loose Ends; WOFFIEs, Well Off Older Folks; and GOBs, Good Old Boys

In addition to these, there's a whole set of words developed to signify the members of society who stand firmly against progress. The major group is the NIMBYs. These are the folks who chant "Not In My Backyard." And two groups even more entrenched in their desire to avoid progress are the CAVE people - Citizens Against Virtually Everything - and the BANANAs - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody.

Yes, it seems every member of the GUM - Great Unwashed Masses - has an acronym to call their own.

In browsing through the subject, I was relieved to learn folks like you and me haven't been overlooked. Those of us who Mosey through life can consider ourselves FRUMPs - Frugal, Responsible, Unpretentious Mature Persons.

And, as the acronym jungle continues to grow, there's no telling what made-up words we'll all be dealing with in the future. I guess, like everything else in life, we have to believe in GORK - God Only Really Knows.



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