Non-Internet Acronyms, Abbreviations and Initialisations

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There is a wealth of information that constantly bombards us every day. Most of it, unfortunately, succombs to the charms of initialisation, abbreviation or the acronym1, leaving most of us just as much in the dark as we were before we started! This entry looks to try to clear some of the mystery away from some of the bewildering terms that are in use in the everyday, and not so everyday world.

Just be careful of RAS (Redundant Acronym Syndrome)... RAS syndrome is the problem whereby the acronym for something becomes an adjective rather than a noun. Hence the S in RAS syndrome is redundant. Other examples include PIN number and the doubly redundant ABS braking system.

The Everyday World

Food and Drink

  • CAMRA - The Campaign for
    Real Ale
  • BBQ - Bar - B - Que
  • TANSTAAFL - There Aint No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Food Additives

  • AI - Artificial Ingredients


  • LBD - Little Black Dress
  • NEF - Nothing Ever Fits


  • AD - Anno Domini
  • CE - Common Era (Year 1)

Amusing Abbreviations/Acronyms

  • FUBAR - F'd Up Beyond All Recognition
  • SNAFU - Situation Normal - All F'd Up
  • FLK - Funny Looking Kid

  • LLD - Looks Like Dad

  • NFN - Normal For Norfolk

  • PFO - Pi$$ed, Fell Over


  • GCSE - General Certificate of Secondary Education
  • PEE - Point, Evidence, Explanation (Essay Writing Technique)
  • CBT - Computer Based Training

Games and Entertainment


Abbreviations are used in the game of Chess to denote the pieces:

  • K = King
  • Q = Queen
  • B = Bishop
  • N = Knight
  • R = Rook
  • P = (or just the square coordinate) Pawn

  • RPG - Role Playing Game
  • GOPS - Game of Pure Strategy

  • SO - Symphony Orchestra (e.g. LSO - London Symphony Orchestra)
Abbreviations of Musical Instruments - Referenced to in Scores

acnaccordionaclalto clarinetaflalto fluteasxalto saxophone
barsxbaritone saxophonebclbass clarinetbgtrbass guitarbjobanjo
bnbassoonbrbrassbtbnbass trombonebthnbasset horn
cacor anglaiscbclcontrabass clarinetcbncontrabassooncelcelesta
clclarinetcntcornetCtpttrumpet in Ccymcymbals
dbdoublebassDbpiccpiccolo in D-flatdmdrumdmkitdrumkit
drecdescant recorderEbclclarinet in E-flatEbtpttrumpet in E-flatebelectric bass
egtrelectric guitarepfelectric pianoevnelectric violinflflute
hmnharmoniumhnhornHorgHammon organhpharp
mrcmaracasoboboeobdaoboe d'amoreobdcoboe da caccia
ssxsoprano saxophonestrstringssynsynthesizersxsaxophone
timptimpanitpttrumpettrectenor recordertsxtenor saxophone
ukeukelelevaviolavadgviola da gambavcvioloncello
vnviolinWtbaWagner tubawwwoodwindxylxylophone

  • WWWF - World-Wide Wrestling Federation
  • WWE - World Wrestling Entertainment

Organisations and Governmental Abbreviations and Acronyms

EU - European Union

  • Benelux - BElgium, NEtherlands, LUXembourg

  • CEEC - Central and Eastern European Countries

  • CFSP - Common Foreign and Security Policy

  • CoR - Committee of the Regionas and Local Authorities

  • COREPER - Committee of Permanent Representatives

  • DG - Directorate General

  • EBRD - European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

  • EC - European Community

  • ECB - European Central Bank

  • ECOFIN - Council of Economic and Finance Ministers

  • EMI - European Monetary Institute

  • EMS - European Monetary System

  • EP - European Parliament

  • EPP - European People's Party (party in the EP)

  • Erasmus - European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students

  • ERDF - European Regional Development Fund

  • ERM - Exchage Rate Mechanism

  • ESC- Economic and Social Committee

  • Euratom - European Atomic Energy Community

  • EUROPOL - European Police Agency

  • IGC - Intergovernmental Conference

  • JHA - Justice and Home Affairs

  • MEP - Memeber of the European Parliament

  • PES - Party of European Socialists (party in the EP)

  • PHARE - Poland-Hungary: Actions for Economic Reconstruction (extended to all CEECs)

  • QMV - Qualified Majority Voting

  • SEA - Single European Act (Treaty signed in 1986)

  • TEU - Treaty on European Union (also known as the Maastricht Treaty)

  • WEU - Western European Union (military organisation)

  • NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
  • NCIS - the National Criminal Intelligence Service
  • CAP - Common Agricultural Policy
  • MAFF - Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
  • TUPE - Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (a UK employment protection law)
  • SEATO - South East Asia Treaty Organisation
  • ECJ - European Court of Justice
  • NAFTA - North American Free Trade Organisation
  • EMU - Economic and Monetary Union
  • GATT - General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
  • OECD - Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
  • OSCE - Organisation for Security and Cooperation In Europe
  • IMF - International Monetary Fund


  • DARPA - Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get
  • Pelican (as in Pelican Crossing) - Pedestrian Light Controlled

The Scientific World

Astronomy and Astrophysics

  • A&A - Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • ESA - European Space Agency
  • NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration



Amino Acids

The amino acids, or AAs as they are more usually known as not only have a three letter acronym, they also have a single letter to describe them in sequences. The following table lays out the acronyms for each.

Three Letter AcronymSingle Letter AcronymAmino Acid Name
aspDAspartic Acid
gluEGlutamic Acid
  • STM - Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy
  • AFM - Atomic Force Microscope
  • NSOM - Near-Field Scanning Optical Microscopy
  • EM - Electron Microscopy
Chemical Compounds
  • DNA - Deoxy-ribonucleic Acid
  • DMF - N,N-dimethylformamide
  • DMSO - dimethyl sulfoxide
  • THF - tetrahydrofurane


  • IR - Infra-red
  • LASER - Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation
  • MASER - Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation
  • UV - Ultra Violet
  • SONAR - SOund NAvigation and Ranging


  • SHG - Second Harmonic Generation
  • THG - Third Harmonic Generation
  • OPO - Optical Parametric Oscillator
  • OPA - Optical Parametric Amplifier
  • TPA/E - Two Photon Absorption/Excitation
  • MPA/E - Multiple Photon Absorption/Excitation
  • OBIC - Optical Beam Induced Current
  • TOBIC - Two Photon OBIC
  • EBIC - Electron Beam Induced Current
  • NIR - Near-IR
  • SPM - Self-Phase Modulation
  • CPM - Cross-Phase Modulation

Methods of Ultrashort Laser Pulse Measurement

  • FROG - Frequency Resolved Optical Gating

  • XFROG - Cross(correlation)-FROG

  • TREEFROG - Twin Recovery of Electric-field Envelopes by FROG

  • TROG - Time Resolved Optical Gating

  • SPIDER - Spectral Phase Interferometry for Direct Electric-field Reconstruction

  • ICP-MS - Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometer
  • TIMS - Thermally Induced Mass Spectrometer
  • MAGLEV - Magnetic Levitation
  • ILS - Instrument Landing System
  • EUV - Extreme UV

  • VUV - Vacuum UV

  • RADAR - RAdio Detection And Ranging

  • VLT - Very Large Telescope

  • VLBI - Very Long Baseline Interferometry


  • AIDS - Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
  • HIV - Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • PSP - Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
  • LFT - Liver function tests

  • TFT - Thyroid function tests

  • FBC - Full blood count

  • WCC - White cell count

  • NAD - No Abnormalities Discovered2

  • SHO - Senior House Officer

  • HO - House Officer

  • MDM - Multidisiplinary meeting

  • DoA - Dead on Admission

  • DNA - Do Not Rescusitate

  • Hx - History

  • Rx - Treatment


  • FT-NMR - Fourier Transform - Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
  • FRET - Förster Resonant Energy Transfer
  • LINAC - Linear Accelerator
  • TOKAMAK - From Russian: "TOroidalnaya KAmera ee MAgnitnaya
    Katushka" English "Toroidal Chamber and Magnetic Coil".
  • CCD - Charge Coupled Device
  • AI - Artificial Intelligence
  • Scuba - Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus
  • TARDIS - Time And Relative Dimension In Space?

Miscellaneous - Amusing

PLOKTA - Press Lots Of Keys To Abort

The Computing World

  • GUI - Graphical User Interface
  • GNU - GNU's Not UNIX
  • OS - Operating System

The Military World

Ah the military. Well, they just go to show that you don't need to be able to spell to produce acronyms and abbreviations!

  • GPMG - General Purpose Machine Gun
  • GPV - General Purpose Vehicle
  • SUSAT - Sight Unit, Small Arms, Trilux
  • HUMMWE - High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle
  • REME - Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
  • CincUS - Commander-in-Chief, United States (Naval Forces)

The Online World

Whenever we are online, in the virtual world, there is an even greater chance of a number of confusing acronyms and abbreviations being presented before us. They range from the common LOL3 to the not so common LTNS4. As if this were'nt enough to completely baffle the normal human, there are in addition, the often confusing Emoticons. Fortunately, the entry on Also, there are the often confusing Emoticons. Internet Acronyms, Smileys and Emoticons is there to help you get through your virtual day. The Internet Glossary is also an indispensible guide to the online world.

  • h2g2 - Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • WWW - World Wide Web
  • Yahoo - Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle
  • ICQ - I Seek You
  • AOL - America Online
  • OLAP - Online Analytical Processing
  • OLTP - Online Transactional Processing

QED - quod erat demonstrandum (=which was to be demostrated)
QE - quod est (=which is)

The Text-Message World

Like the online world,
text messages
have their own list of confusing abbreviations and acronyms, some of which have crossed over from, or into the online world.

SWALK - Sealed With A Loving Kiss
NORWICH - kNickers Off Ready When I Come Home

1Especially the TLA, or three letter acronym!2Although, for the more cynical, this could well be Not Actually Done...3Laugh Out Loud4Long Time No See

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