Acronym and Abbreviation Overload

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Fan communities create their own acronyms and abbreviations, to make it easier to speak about the works they love. An AaAO is when this is taken so far that it is downright confusing.

For example, ff you have visited online gaming communities, you've likely Seen It a Million Times. You simply cannot defeat the BBEG, so you use the 'tubes to find a FAQ for how to get to the PoPL so you can LG your MP to godly levels and mess him up. And the FAQ is composed entirely of shorthand, rendering it illegible.

When used in media (as opposed to being used in talking about media), it tends to feature in an Expospeak Gag or aiding the resident Motor Mouth. Or both.

Not to be confused with Fun with Acronyms, because that trope is about acronyms that are humorous rather than accurate, as opposed to simply having too many acronyms to remember, or acronyms that you'd have to be an insider of the community to know.

When writers include an overload of acronyms, they usually do so in the hope that you'll end up R.O.T.F.L.O.L.Y.F.A.O. Occasionally they'll thrown in some acronyms that refer to Deadly Euphemisms along with more benign euphemisms in the hopes that you'll do a mental Double Take and think O.M.F.G.!

Examples of Acronym and Abbreviation Overload include:


F.L.M.[edit | hide | hide all]

Adrian Cronauer: Excuse me, sir. Seeing as how the V.P. is such a V.I.P., shouldn't we keep the P.C. on the Q.T.? 'Cause if it leaks to the V.C. he could end up M.I.A., and then we'd all be put out in K.P.[1]

  • In Renaissance Man, Danny DeVito's character, who is teaching a class at a military base, is first very confused when a serviceman gives him directions like this. Later in the movie, once he's gotten used to being on the base, the situation is reversed when a civilian asks him for directions and he gives the same acronym-filled one he received earlier.
  • In the opening scenes of I Was a Male War Bride (1949) -- one of the earliest American films to address this trope—French army captain Henri Rochard (Cary Grant) approaches the guard post at an Allied armed forces office building in post-war Germany. He asks the guard for directions to the "OICAMGWAC". (Being Cary Grant, he reads it rhythmically and deliberately so it sounds like "O.I.C. - A.M.G. - W.A.C.") Directed to the first floor, he finds office doors labeled "WAIRCO" (which he reads as "War Administration Industrial Relations Coordinator's Office") and "SOSDPPDD" ("Service of Supplies Displaced Persons Property Disposal Department") before finding the ladies restroom. He begins to misinterpret this as "Labor Administration Department Inter..." when a WAC (Women's Army Corps) tech corporal exits. She directs him across the hall to yet another door labeled "CDMTWR". The meanings of the first and last acronyms are not explained.

L.T.T.R.[edit | hide]

  • The Warrior Cats fandom is fond of this. Acronyms include:
    • the series titles (TNP, TPOT, OOTS)
    • book titles (TDH, FQ, BP, NW, BotC, T4A, SotC, to name a few... This created a slight issue when Code of the Clans came along, because there was already a CotC from Cats of the Clans. There were even forum threads debating on what to call it - the most common form is C2otC.)
    • some characters, places, etc (HF, DF, PoNS)
    • related websites (Ww, OF)
  • The team of Discworld wizards who work on Hex do this a bunch—Hex is a computer made out of an ant farm and some common household implements, including an FTB (fuzzy teddy bear), a CWL (clothes wringer from the laundry), and the like. A number of these acronyms are references to real-life ones, generally from computing (such as "FTB", a play on "FTP", an Internet protocol).
  • The Dilbert Principle advises employees to use lots of acronyms in describing their accomplishments because "they sound impressive while conveying no information":

Boss: "What was your contribution to the project?"
You: "Mostly QA. I was also an SME for the BUs."
Boss: "Um... okay. Excellent work."

L.A.T.V[edit | hide]

John Cleese: Gentlemen, our MP saw the PM this AM and the PM wants more LSD from the PIB by tomorrow AM or PM at the latest. I told the PM's PPS that AM was NBG so tomorrow PM it is for the PM nem. con.

  • The dialogue in The Sandbaggers uses so many acronyms that the DVDs have an acronym glossary as a bonus feature.
  • Only Fools and Horses: At one point Del Boy insists that "Modern businesspeople only speak in initials!" He initializes everything—examples include the GLC: "General 'Lectric Company" and PMA: "Positive Mental Attitude". He also tries to initialize "Trotter's Independent Trader's" and Rodney's "Diploma In Computerization", the results of which are duly pointed out.

N.P.C.M.[edit | hide]

  • A Dilbert strip tries to abuse this when the engineers try to deceive the pointy-haired boss by making up lots of acronyms.

T.B.T.G.[edit | hide]

  • Dungeons & Dragons: DND tends to suffer from this, because of the number of precise terms; AC, DR, CL (this one's even context-sensitive), DC, etc. etc. Oddly enough, there's no way to abbreviate "Denied your dex bonus to AC" any further.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War wiki has many acronyms made up by players. The Dakkadakka Forum even has tooltips for the most commonly used initialisms.
  • And if you think that's bad, you should see Exalted. Acronyms like VAP,[2] PoCB,[3] SSE,[4] GSNF[5] and SCS[6] are all thrown around. Exalted terminology is so flowery that typing all the Charms out in full could take weeks.


T.H.T.[edit | hide]

  • The song "Arse End of the Earth" from Keating! The Musical.
  • Hair (theatre) uses a lot of acronyms in the lyrics of "Hashish" and "Initials." Appearing in both are "L.S.D." and "I.R.T."


V.D.G.M.[edit | hide]

  • Ancient Domains of Mystery: (ADOM) The guidebook has all kinds of abbreviations that make it downright illegible unless you read the compiled list of acronyms and abbreviations. One of the biggest offenders is the TotRR.
  • Super Smash Bros.: (SSB) guides will have all kinds of acronyms, sometimes making the simplest things hard to read; for instance, DI, or Directional Influence; your ability to move left or right a little bit in midair, etc.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Done deliberately by the DF community; talk of the GCS and the HFS prevents spoilers. Also overlaps with Insistent Terminology.
  • Nethack: The IRC channel often combines this with the in-game symbols used to represent the various items; so a late game ascension kit might contain (among other things) [oMR, "oLS, a cursed !oGL and plenty of /oD.
  • The GameFAQs Naruto boards has JnJ, PnJ, ET, SST, CT, FRS, 0TK, 3TK, 4TK, 8TK, nTK, MS, EMS...
  • Mega Man Battle Network: In-Universe, actually. Mostly to preserve memory space, but also has a nice futuristic look.
  • StarCraft: Most of the Goliath's Stop Poking Me quotes. The Goliath in Starcraft II has many quotes reused, but also has the previous quote from GoodMorningVietnam.

Goliath: Go ahead, TACCOM. Milspec ED 209 on. USDA selected. FDIC approved. Checklist complete... SOB.

  • The Battle for Wesnoth community has a lot of this. HttT, TSG, AoI, SoF, THoT, DA, HI, WM, ZoC, CtH, HAPMA... almost all campaigns, units and gameplay elements are abbreviated, see also here.
  • The Rock Band fan comunity reduces song names to acronyms, such as GGaHT (that's Green Grass and High Tides).
  • World of Warcraft has its own horde of acronyms and abbreviations, Dal, Org, TB, Oc, pat, spriest, Demolock, ToT, ToC, LF5MDPS, H25LK, TG vs SMF... to the point that some instances had similar acronyms that one of them had to be acronymed after its final boss. DM (Dire Maul) and VC (Deadmines, after the last boss). More information here
  • The Web Game Sryth has a lot of acronims, most of them fan-made. There's a forum thread that provides a complete list.

W.B.C.M.[edit | hide]

Ryotaro Dojima: We've got no clues about the perp. We don't even have a sus because the sec with a mo's got a perf al.
Adachi: Sir, what are you even-
Dojima: Shut UP, Adachi.

W.S.T.A.N.M.[edit | hide]

Top Cat: Attention! This is T.C. calling with an A.P.B.. Report to the treasure room A.S.A.P..

R.L.L.F.[edit | hide]

  • The All The Tropes wiki itself. Those new to the community might have to have CMoA's, YMMV, and YKTTW explained to them.
  • Truth in Television: The United States armed forces do this, to the point where two members of the same branch (say an artilleryman and a tanker, both Army) can't understand each other. Much worse if it's members of two different branches.
  • The Armed Services see this extensively. "Private Bob! Gimme a SITREP on the PMCS of that APC ASAP!".
    • A lot of personnel use this for Fun with Acronyms. A radar operator might call in "An unidentified B-1-R-Delta (bird) possible hostile G-U-Eleven (gull) class" Or a technician might report an "ID-ten-T (id10t) user error" or "Equipment inoperable in O-F-F Mode"
    • It is said (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) that the American armed forces run on TLAs,[7] ETLAs,[8] and MTTLAs.[9]
  • Civilian aviation inherited this from the military for the same reason they us it: brevity is important over crowded radio channels and there are lot of technical terms in use. For example: "I'm gonna study the SOP, refer to the FAR/AIM and the POH, then go up and practice an ILS, VOR, NDB and GPS approach out of EVB. Oh, not GPS, cause RAIM is inop."
    • Or: "I am going to study the standard operating procedure, refer to the federal air regulations aeronautical information manual and the pilots operating handbook, then go up and practice an instrument landing system, very high frequency omnidirectional range, non directional beacon and global positioning system approach out of New Smyrna Beach municipal airport. Oh, not global positioning system, because the receiver autonomous integrity monitoring is inoperable." Suddenly the acronyms seem godsend instead of an annoyance.
  • Laptop computers used to use a type of expansion slot known as PCMCIA, an acronym for the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association, the group of companies that got together to develop the hardware standard. Owing to what a mouthful the acronym was (not to mention how non-descriptive it proved to be once you bothered to unroll it), the acronym is jokingly said to mean "People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms".

The name was eventually changed to the much shorter "PC Card", before the format was replaced entirely by Express Card.

  1. Translation: Seeing as the Vice President is a Very Important Person, shouldn't we keep information about the Press Conference confidential? Because if it leaks to the Viet Cong he could end up Missing In Action, and then we'd all be put to work in the kitchens, or worse.
  2. Void Avatar Prana
  3. Protection of Celestial Bliss
  4. Seven Shadow Evasion
  5. Green Sun Nimbus Flare
  6. Solar Circle Sorcery
  7. Three-Letter Acronyms
  8. Extended Three-Letter Acronyms
  9. More-Than-Three-Letter Acronyms