Shoehorned First Letter

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"It must be American. Who else would think 'extra' starts with an X?"

Sometimes a character will need to come up with a word that starts with a certain letter, but wants or needs to say one that doesn't qualify. The solution: stick the necessary letter in front of the desired word and call it a day! Often done to make a word fit into an acronym.

Compare Xtreme Kool Letterz.

Examples of Shoehorned First Letter include:

Anime and Manga

  • Subverted in Code Geass, where FLEIJA stood for "Field Limitary Effective Implosion Armament". Yes, they didn't even bother to stick anything to the "J". The shameful thing is, the reason for the name is to keep within the Theme Naming of the series, and the accepted fan-made acronym of FREYA (standing for Fusion REaction Yield Armament) works just as well.

Comic Books

  • In one of The Simpsons comics, Homer tells Bart about the "Three S's of fishing". The last one is ssssbait.


  • In the Three Stooges short "Sing a Song of Six Pants", the stooges are trying to guess the name of the owner of a suit when they know his initials are TH. They come up with Teddy Hoosevelt and Thomas Hedison.
  • In Dance Flick, after one character says there's no 'I' in 'team', the other character suggests some synonyms, none of which have 'I' either, until he gets to 'i-nsemble'. For his efforts, he is responded with a Lampshade Hanging that he mispronounced the word to make it sound like it had an 'I'.


Live-Action TV

Stephen: Yeah, you know what "z" stands for, Jon: zrevenge!
Jon: See you in a minute, Stephen!
Stephen: I will have my zvengeance!

  • During a game of "90 Second Alphabet" on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Greg Proops was made to start his line with the letter X, and spat out, "X-actly no!" even holding up his arms in the shape of an X for emphasis.
  • Challenging the rest of the family to guess the name of a big-band leader with the initials "EC", Archie Bunker said the answer was "Xavier Cugat". When Mike told him that "Xavier" begins with an "X", Archie insisted that "No human being begins their name with an 'X'!" and that Xavier was spelled "E-G-Z-A-V-E-R".
  • One episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured the 'bots signing up to walk marathons for various long-winded charities. When Crow stated he was walking for WALKATHON, he had to explain to Mike that it was an acronym, not Walk-A-Thon itself.

Crow: It stands for "Walkers At Large Kinetically Altruistic Through Hygiene Or Nowledge".
Mike: ..."Knowledge" with an "N"?
Crow: Yeah, else it would be WALKATHOK, and that doesn't work.

Newspaper Comics

  • Inverted in Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin's anti-girl club needs a snappy, memorable name. He and Hobbes eventually come up with "Get Rid Of Slimy GirlS", or G.R.O.S.S.


  • The musical Plain and Fancy brings on a little girl in the middle of "Plenty of Pennsylvania" to list something growing in Pennsylvania for every letter of the alphabet. She stumbles toward the end of the alphabet with "un-i-ons" and "X-plants," and for the final letter weakly suggests "zpinach" and "zauerkraut" before triumphantly emerging with "zucchini."

Video Games

  • In Billy vs. SNAKEMAN, one of the 11 D's of Pizza Delivery is D-Speed.
  • In one Second Sight level, two guards are playing "I Spy" and the letter is "E". The guesser tries "eeediot".
  • Ultima IV has both a command and a spell for each letter of the keyboard, leading to some oddities like (z)tats and (k)limb.
    • The "up" and "down" spells are respectively Y and Z, justified in universe by Y being the initial of the wizard who invented the up spell and Z being the initial of the unpronounceable Lord of the Underworld.
  • A series-wide example, the Mortal Kombat series tends to change almost any word that starts with a hard C to a K.
  • The KKnD series stands for "Krush, Kill 'n' Destroy". Apparently, CKnD doesn't sound as dynamic.

Web Comics

General: We call it the Kinetic Ingestion Regulator Bio-Yorganism.
Meta Knight: Yorganism?
General: Y is kind of a tricky letter.

Web Original

Shadow Teddie: The word of the day is: FUTILE! As in: "Your futile existence has no meaning." Chie, do you know any other words that start with F?
Chie: Fsteak.
Shadow Teddie: Excellent.

  • TV Tropes: Pstandard Psychic Pstance is named according to this trope, as is Psmith Psyndrome, in a different way.
  • Homestar Runner attempts to write an acrostic poem about Marzipan, and uses foodstuffs to begin each line. On "i" he tries to get away with "inchiladas".
  • Tobuscus has a Running Gag of trying to make the color of shirt he's wearing in his LazyVlogs match the day of the week, resulting in such gems as "Thpurple Thursday".

Western Animation

Real Life

  • Almost all software written for KDE has the name with "K", preferably as the first letter. If there's no synonym, "K" may replace "c" or "q". Failing that, it's shoehorned. Killbots, Karbon, Konqueror, KoolDock, Okular, Klear, KBattleship...
  • A joke: Zorro saves a Dumb Blonde from an unspecified danger. Then he asks: "Do you know who saved you?" She answers in the negative. He points at the Z: "That's the first letter of my name!" She says: "Ohhh, now I get it! Thank you, Zuperman!"
  • Sometimes seen in posters, books, etc. of the alphabet where each letter is accompanied by a word that starts with that letter. If "x" isn't represented by "xylophone" or "X-ray", it'll be "ox" or "axe".
  • The "three Rs" of Education: Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. Only one actually starts with an R when spelled properly. At least writing kinda has the excuse of sounding like it does, but arithmetic has no such excuse.
  • Something very common with crosswords is that people will change the letters in a word in order to make it fit.
  • The Ku Klux Klan is an unfortunate example.