I don’t know whether the internet, Twitter in particular, has contributed to my lack of understanding of abbreviations and acronyms, but I’m certainly befuddled lately by the use of letters standing for something. They’re everywhere.

I blame a lot of them on people using smartphones to text everybody, using as few letters as possible.

I seldom read the sports pages, but I saw a headline saying Rice had beaten UAB and, since I admire Rice and its propensity for good education, I started reading to find out what UAB stood for.

I read the whole story. I still don’t know.

On another page of the same paper, there’s an article about AI. Now I don’t have to be in the dark about AI, because it clearly told me that stands for artificial intelligence. I still don’t understand AI, but at least I know what it means.

We talk in letters all the time. Do you know that UTMB stands for the University of Texas Medical Branch? Of course you do.

Are you aware that NASA means National Aeronautics and Space Administration? I had to look that up. We all certainly only use the letters.

A page created in this paper for the entertainment and education of children recently featured the letters HVAC. We see those letters in ads a lot and we sort of have the gist of what they stand for. The people who are involved with HVAC are working with Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

Teenagers, especially the girls, use many shortcuts, one of which frequently heard is BFF.

That stands for Best Friend Forever. I guess it remains to be seen how that holds up, as teens have a lot of friends. And forever is a long, long time.

There are so many acronyms, abbreviations and jargon words that hustle us along, insisting on instant action in many, many circumstances.

I think immediately of “stat,” an instance of urgency especially among medical people. It derives from the Latin word statin, which means immediately.

An acronym we all use more often is ASAP. You can figure that out. Very plain-spoken. It says As Soon As Possible.

If you’re a big fan of “Blue Bloods,” as I am, you often hear another “immediately” word. It’s forthwith. Listen carefully. You will hear it.

Once upon a time I was attending a fire down by the docks in Texas City when Roy McKinney, fire chief at the time, explained to me that what we were watching was a BLEVE. It’s a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion.

It was a gasoline tank car on a railroad track on fire and absolutely terrifying. And sadly, there was nothing anybody could do about it except let it burn itself out.

Covering speeches by many industry representatives, I was frequently taking notes and interrupting them, and myself, to ask for definitions of sets of letters that they used constantly.

They had hundreds of them, so I was always asking questions.

One I remember and don’t have to look up is VOC. That’s a volatile organic compound. Usually something noxious floating around in our air.

If you like acronyms and want to make up your own orders for alacrity, shout DIRN to somebody and see what happens. It means Do It Right Now!

Cathy Gillentine is a Daily News columnist. She may be reached at cathy.gillentine@comcast.net.



(5) comments

Carlos Ponce

The banner for this page reads: "Galveston County The Daily News" The acronym I prefer is GCDN as opposed to an earlier version of the paper GDN but both are acceptable. But the website is still galvnews. Somehow the use of TDN or DN that some use seems inadequate.

Gary Scoggin

Years ago, EPA proposed a rule called the HON, Hazardous Organic NESHAPS. NESHAPS, being an acronym for National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. HON is notable because it was EPA’s first documented use of an acronym within an acronym.

Bailey Jones

My field is rife with them. My favorite is VHDL - VHSIC Hardware Description Language. VHSIC - very high speed integrated circuit. I was involved with the DOD's VHSIC project way back in the 80s. It was an attempt to jump-start a new generation of integrated circuits by throwing $$$ at several large military contractors - including TI, where I worked. By the time the new VHSIC tech was perfected, it had been surpassed by commercial chips. But VHDL lives on - it's my favorite programming language - used to program FPGAs - field-programmable gate arrays.

Mary Lofaro

I'm trying to figure out why 19 people reacted to this article with the "angry" emoji. I'm guessing maybe a lot of people dislike acronyms??

Charlotte O'rourke

Mary, I agree. Those mad faces. Why? Lol.

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