ROYGBIV X 2 = a double rainbow.  (picture by Jim Warner)

ROYGBIV x 2 = a double rainbow. (picture by Jim Warner)

M & Ms are acronyms for Mars and Murrie's, the last names of the candy's founders.

M & Ms are acronyms for Mars and Murrie’s, the last names of the candy’s founders.

A golf cart For Sale.  It's a BMW, meaning "Bavarian Motor Works."

A golf cart For Sale. It’s a BMW, the acronym for “Bavarian Motor Works.”

I was in fourth grade when the teacher taught us a tool for remembering the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Thank you, Roy G Biv.

Today we’ve moved beyond teaching tools and abbreviations. Acronyms are used in every industry, in all walks of life. Texting and instant messaging make up a whole new series of acronyms. AFK says we’re away from keyboard; BRB assures we’ll be right back; and if you’re guarding what you’re sharing, POS tells the other person Parents Over Shoulder. BF is Best Friend, BFF is Best Friends Forever; BFFL is Best Friends For Life. It’s touching to know that even the act of identifying and ranking levels of our most important friendships can now be accomplished in acronyms of 2-4 letters.

Some acronyms we know “in general” what they mean. For instance, we know SOS is a call for help, but technically it means “Save Our Souls.” The Latin meanings of the acronyms for i.e. and e.g. are long, complicated, and well…in Latin. The useful meanings are “in other words” for i.e., and “for example” for e.g.   And most of us probably know what a TASER is, but do you know that TASER is the acronym for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”?

If we’re going to use acronyms, we really should know what they mean. LOL means “laugh out loud,” and therefore shouldn’t be used as part of the message on a sympathy card because you think it means “lots of love.” Sometimes it’s better to write out what we feel instead of taking chances that the acronym might be misinterpreted.

While my parents were still living at home—before my father’s Alzheimer’s and long before my mother’s dementia—I was visiting them when a young girl dropped off some writing materials for my mom. As the teen put them on the coffee table, Mom noticed her colorful bracelet and asked what the letters stood for. The girl smiled and held out her arm to show off the WWJD. “It’s a reminder,” she said. “A question to ask myself…’What Would Jesus Do?’”

Ever helpful and pleasant, my mother smiled and patted the girl’s hand. “Oh, sweetheart, you know there’s a book that actually tells you what Jesus did do.”

The world is changing with acronyms providing faster ways of communicating. It is not TEOTWAWKI—“The End of The World As We Know It”—just another new thing we can choose to embrace or not.

To all of you I say BBS (Be Back Soon) and TTYL (Talk To you Later).  To my mom I don’t say HAGN or TYVM, because she wouldn’t know what those mean. So I say “Have a good night” and “Thank you very much” for being a wonderful mom.

One of the most popular acronym message bracelets of the 1990s.

One of the most popular acronym message bracelets of the 1990s.



Filed under Different kinds of homes, friends, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, writing

73 responses to “ROYGBIV, FYI

  1. Molly

    O.M.G. (OH MY GOSH ) mom, this blog is defintely T.B.E. (the best ever). I love the story of the gal with the W.W.J.D. bracelet and grandma. I am not sure I had ever heard the story, but it is so typically grandma…I love it.

    You definitely tied so much awesome information and history into one blog, I absolutely love it.

    T.T.Y.L. and L.O.L. (lots of love) !

    • I’m glad I have a daughter who keeps me on my toes…or at least does her best to try to keep me on my toes. GJ, sweetie!
      And TYVM to you and the kids for going to visit Grandma tomorrow. All your youthful energy and love will be a breath of fresh air for her. Please give her kisses and hugs for me. 🙂

  2. I am obviously out of touch. You have a few acronyms here that I haven’t heard before. So, TY (thank you) and TTFN (ta ta for now). 🙂

    • Okay, Gallivanta, just between us, I can admit that several of these I had to look up. 🙂 I’m much more interested in the acronyms for things like TASER and M & Ms than in changing my language to email and text. I can type the real words faster than I can remember the acronyms. 😉 TTFN

  3. Marylin, I instantly knew the meaning of ROYGBIV, having learned it in the elementary grades. I can add TASER to an acronym I now know the meaning of, thanks to this blog.

    I absolutely love your mother’s rejoinder to WWJD – so typical of her personality and character you reveal each week in coherent bits and pieces.

    HAGW, Marylin.

  4. TY, Marian. I have always loved ROYGBIV; even now when I see a rainbow I rattle off the colors in that order in my mind.
    And her answer is so typical of my mom’s character and personality, at least before the dementia. There are times even now, though, that listening to CDs of children singing Sunday school songs will soon have her smiling and humming along, so I hope that these qualities last much longer.
    You HAGW, too! 🙂

  5. I didn’t know 90% of them, thank you! Taser and M&Ms, who knew??

    • I know! It really is fun, isn’t it? And ZIP means Zone Improvement Plan, which is why we have Zip Codes, but the really cute one I didn’t know was that Smokey The Bear has his own ZIP Code, in case you want to “fire off” a fan letter: 20252. 🙂

  6. jakesprinter

    Even in my busy days going back to wp to share my comment to your wonderful post Marylin…Absolutely love it my friend.

  7. I’m going to try to remember Mr.Roy G Bif the next time I see a rainbow. The problem is I can’t remember names. I always love reading your blog and learning something new . If your mother could read these blogs she would be VPOY ” very proud of you”
    HAS ” hugs and smiles”

  8. This week especially I remember the acronym we had for remembering the colours of the rainbow. Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain. Unlikely to be forgotten now he’s been found and reburied.
    For a long time I was confused by some of the things I saw like LOL which I always took to mean lots of love but seemed out of context sometimes, I understand much better now. ROFL (Roll On Floor Laughing).
    I hope you’re well dear Marylin.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • Well, David, GMTA (great minds think alike) because I was ROFL when I read your comment. As little Reuben grows, he’ll be teaching you all kinds of new words and expressions. You can count on it.
      I’m very well, David, and hope you are, too. Massive Hugs back to you!

  9. Ah, I see that David has already given you the acrostic we are taught in the UK for the rainbow colours! One of those useful and never forgotten things, like the way an Australian teacher taught us to remember how to spell ‘necessary’. (NE C – E – puss puss ARY). I’ve never understood why it works but I always think of it when I type it!

    • I would never be able to remember the tool for spelling “necessary” that way, Jenny, but it makes me laugh just thinking about it. And at least your tool for remembering the colors of the rainbow is based on a real person… or at least I think he was real, right? I really don’t think that our Roy G Biv was an actual person, but when I was in elementary school I thought it was a very cool name.

  10. It took me a while to catch onto the text language of BFF and BFFL, etc. but when you have young adults for children you have to learn (lol). I do use acronyms from time to time, but I still love the real thing, the complete word(s).
    Thank you, Marylin ❤

    • Like you, Joanne, I’d much rather use the actual words. I can type the words faster and easier (and more accurately) than to think through and consider (or even look up) the acronyms.
      It’s our children (and grandchildren) who keep us young, up-to-date, and confused. Bless their hearts. 😉

  11. Since I don’t text, a few of these acronyms were new to me. I love your mother’s response to the young girl…perfect!

  12. The WWJD was a powerful acronym. I loved that it coincided with my daughters’ growing up years. It truly made kids and all of us stop and ponder.
    The other day I texted a request and got np. It took me a few beats to realize the response was “no problem.” My reply ty – thank you.

    • Np, no problem. I’m glad you told me. If I’d received that as a reply, I would have probably though it was a typo, and waited for a corrected response. I like you ty answer, Georgette.

  13. Don

    I really enjoyed your post Marylin. Wow! I had no idea that TASER stood for Thomas A Swift’s Electric Rifle. Always something to learn from your posts.

  14. calvin

    Do I detect a hint of ‘say what you mean, mean what you say’. If that be the case, am with you one hundred percent. And that is coming from a has-been enigma whom used the moniker HH (Hudson Howl).

    • Hudson Howl was your AKA (also known as) or your DBA (doing business as). You also joined the ranks of writers to chose pseudonyms. I understand that author Dean Koontz had several, including one female name he thought would appeal more to women readers.
      Acronyms are interesting, but overall I’d rather just write the real words for what I want to say, Calvin.

  15. Very enlightening post Marylin. I love your Mom’s response about eh WWJD bracelet. She’s so right – we can read what he did – predicting what he would do – well that’s a whole other thing. I prefer WWJHMD What Would Jesus Have Me Do?
    KOP (keep on posting)

  16. juliabarrett

    How precious! Your mother is the best. TTFN!

  17. Jim

    The first time I saw BYOB, I scratched my head in bewilderment. I don’t remember the context. It must have been on an invitation to something. Anyway, I guessed it meant, “Be Your Own Boss,” which I always thought was good advice, but why on an invitation? It was advice my dad had given me. It was advice he followed when he decided to return to private dental practice after WWII instead of accepting the tempting offer to stay in the US Army Medical Corps as a major. (You already know, Marylin, I am very proud of my dad’s wartime service.) Boy, was I surprised to find out what BYOB really meant! I was in sports at the time and didn’t want any part of drinking.

  18. I have been trying to keep up on the acronyms and abbreviated language usage of today’s younger generation, Marylin. I am constantly learning from my youngers instead of my elders! LOL This was such a great and positive post, which I liked your Mom’s reply about WWJD, since she is totally right, there is a book to help you know how his actions can make you a better person.

    • Thank you, Robin. I’m still smiling at your post about THE SOUND OF MUSIC and the various songs. I remember my mother taking me to see the movie on the wide screen in Kansas City.

  19. I loved this Marylin. You know far more than I do. I struggle with many. For us it was “Richard of York gave battle in vain”.

  20. Between you, David and Jenny, I learn so much, Andrew. Richard of York maybe gave battle in vain, but he’s still included in teaching the colors of the rainbow!

  21. Marilyn … I did use to use LOL for ‘lots of love’ until I was informed otherwise. I now occasionally use Leonard Nimoy’s (Mr. Spock’s sign off) LLAP – Live Long and Prosper.

    At the end of the school year, students wrote messages to me that ended with: HAGS (Have a Good Summer). I’m glad they told me what that meant. 😉 At school, I turned the phrase WWJD to WWLD – What would Larson do? He was our guidance counselor at the time and a very wise and humorous man. Great colleague. And, great comeback from your Mom on the WWJD. But the bracelet is a great reminder. 😉

    TTFN (Tah tah for now). Thanks for the chuckles.

  22. Claudia

    Your surely know the knew language! I am missing a lot of it…fall further behind all the time, ha-ha!

  23. Not really, Claudia. There are still some that startle me until I can figure them out. And I don’t text with acronyms unless I have to. There are a few I know easily, but not many. 😉

  24. Diana Stevan

    Marylin, as usual, you’ve entertained and informed me about a slice of life that has meaning for you. Are you going to put all your posts together in a book? It would be a fabulous read. I like your mother’s response to WWJD. Made me smile.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Diana. We do plan to have full book-type publications made for the grandchildren, complete with readers’ comments so the kids can see how so many responded to their great-grandmother. We want them to get a glimpse of her humor, faith, kindness and intelligence before the dementia.

  25. (TWAT) – That was a treat Marylin.

    I really had to laugh while reading your post. You really put it together so well. I am out sometimes out when the kids use their abbreviations. But I know that my daughter has a BFF; actually more than one 😉

    • It is amazing what we learn from our daughters, Ilka. If it weren’t for my daughter, I’d never have learned any of the texting acronyms, and sometimes we make up new ones for each other to figure out. It makes me laugh, though, because some of them have several very different interpretations that would really change the message. 😉

  26. Nancy Parker Brummett

    LOL, very creative! 🙂

  27. Marylin, love the acronym Roy B. Giv and WWJD. I think if we thought about WWJD before we spoke or acted, the world would be a happier place. Love the BMW cart and Jim’s rainbow photo! 🙂

  28. Thanks, Tracy. Jim’s double rainbow picture is one of my favorites.
    FYI: it’s Roy G. Biv. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
    But your way of writing the “name” opens some funny possibilities. 🙂

  29. Hmmmm, I have to admit that I didn’t know some of the acronyms in your post. I remember being very puzzled with “BTW” until my children gave me a little lesson. There is so much to learn😄 This is a fun post, Marilyn!

  30. The m and m trivia was my favorite…b/c it is my favorite candy! 😉 As always, I thoroughly enjoyed your post…XO

    • I loved the M&Ms, too, Robyn. When my daughter Molly was born, a friend brought a basket of goodies, including 2 lbs. of M&Ms (for Marylin and Molly). Which was so sweet, except I was nursing and couldn’t eat chocolate, and neither could a newborn baby!

  31. I’m absolutely clueless when it comes to most acronyms in text-speak. It should be no surprise that I don’t send many of them!

    • Actually, I don’t use them very often, either. They’re fun to know since our daughter and grandchildren write with acronyms, and sometimes I have to keep a cheat sheet nearby. 😉

  32. Jane Thorne

    Acronyms in the eighties used to drive me nuts in the corporate world…so like you, I don’t use them. Apart from one a close friend of mine coined and it’s so ‘spot on’ that I share it with the lassies I work with now…it’s way too rude to print here, but it always makes us laugh. My daughter too….Hugs and much love flowing to you Marylin and your lovely Mum and all your loved ones. Xxx ❤

    • Thank you for sending us love, Jane. You’re always so sweet in your comments to my mother and my family. But it would also be fun sometime if you would send the “spot on” acronym you and your friend coined that makes you laugh even though it’s “too rude to print.” The serious texting acronyms have their function, but I’d really like to hear the one you created. 🙂

      • Jane Thorne

        I would have to email it…promise…it’s that naughty! The friend who created it is fabby..and can be as outrageous as me. I have another friend who ran a women’s refuge for years and she has a saying (not an acronym in sight) that she uses on stressful occasions…I passed it on to a friend of mine and he said it out loud and frightened his dog! My email is ‘’ and I will share a completely different side of me with you! ❤ to you Xxxxx

  33. LOL 😀 Oh Marylin, my mum and I used to text that to one another thinking it meant ‘lots of love’ until my daughter, thinking it so funny, corrected me! I had to ask another blogger recently what TTYL meant as I had no idea! I had no idea what ‘M&M’ stood for, nor TASER. I’ve learnt so much here today! Beautiful double rainbow, I never did learn that clever way of remembering the rainbow colours. Isn’t it so nice that we can still communicate without all these abbreviations in this modern world though? Your dear mom had the right idea! Love this post my friend. Have a great week and I’ll see you soon…or should I say BRB 😀

    • Oh, Sherri, I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the American series THE NEWSROOM, but in one of my favorite episodes, one of the young reporters took it upon herself to send a beautiful bouquet and note from all the group to the wife of one of the lead journalists who had died. It was a touching scene…except this cute young reporter had written a lovely note and then signed it “LOL from the group.” She thought LOL meant lots of love, but the widow wanted to know why everyone was laughing out loud. 🙂 I’m glad your daughter corrected you; our daughters are so much more current than we are.
      TASER and M&M acronyms are great, but my favorite is still ROYGBIV.

      • Oh no!!! I bet that lovely young woman was mortified! Just goes to show doesn’t it how these acronyms, although expected to be universally understood, can be so confusing, yikes! Thank goodness for our daughters!! And I can see why ROYGBIV is your favourite, definitely! Happy Easter my friend, see you soon 🙂

      • And Happy Easter to you and your family, dear Sherri.

  34. I’m hopelessly out of touch with most of these acronyms Marylin, so thanks for educating me! I do know what LOL means but every time I see it I still think ‘lots of love’!

  35. I always enjoy the posts when I stop by your blog. ROYGBIV was a great reminder and I too recognized it immediately. I really liked the M&Ms part too. I recently – though not an acronym learned that the 3 Musketeers Bar was named for the 3 different flavors it launched with – now of course just the one we love or not…
    Keep up the great writing.

  36. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I am going to forward this post to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a very good read. Thank you for sharing!

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