NOMO: The 25 worst acronyms in the world

(NOMO part 4 of a series of 4) Don’t blame John Mc Cain. Or at least don’t blame him for his problems with “alphabet soup”. Most acronyms are actually “nomonyms” – our word for unhelpful abbreviations, to which we say “NOMO!” We also discussed initialisms like “IBM” – which are also usually a really bad idea. But acronyms are a whole different world of hurt, and some are so truly, and hilariously awful, they are in a class by themselves…

The 25 worst acronyms in the world

1. STUPID – St. Thomas University of Public International Diplomacy
An academic institution in Kenya (we didn’t make this up)

2. MHAAG–Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy Group
Harvard University group (we didn’t make this up)

3. SL**T – Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology:
Name says it all (we didn’t make this up)

4. MOIST - MOntreal Internationalized Software Testing
A tech conference (we didn’t make this up)

5. RUMPS – Renal Unit Management Protocol System
From the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at the University of Birmingham (we didn’t make this up)

6. The PIIGS Group – Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain
International diplomacy (we didn’t make this up)

7. SHIN – Saskatchewan Health Information Network
It was almost dubbed Saskatchewan Health Information Technology System! (we didn’t make this up)

8. A*RSE – African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment
Not-for-profits are guilty too (we didn’t make this up)

9. WinCE – Windows Compact Edition
Wince: to shrink or start involuntarily, as in pain or distress (we didn’t make this up)

10. FATCOLA – First American Trust Company Of Los Angeles:
Its on the side of their building! (we didn’t make this up)

11. NAMWOLF – National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms
“Legal excellence knows no color or gender” (we didn’t make this up)

12. CINCUS – Commander in Chief of the US Fleet (pronounced “sink us”)
The highest rank in the US Navy, circa 1922 – 1945 (we didn’t make this up)

13. SIGTARP – The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program
The guys who are saving the US economy (we didn’t make this up)

14. QAHCAA – Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Americans
Obama’s 2009 health care plan (we didn’t make this up)

15. SUX – Sioux Gateway Airport
They got the short end of the airport acronym stick – but check out their Web site www.flysux.com to see how they’re making the best of it – possibly even turning it to an advantage? (we didn’t make this up)

16. MILF – Moro Islamic Liberation Front
And don’t forget the political extremist groups (we didn’t make this up)

Some claim that this is the worst acronym ever:

17. PUMCODOXPURSACOMLOPOLAR – Pulse Modulated Coherent Doppler-Effect X-Band Pulse-Repetition Synthetic-Array Pulse Compression Side Lobe Planar Array (we didn’t make this up)

But the Beg to DIFFER grand prize goes to… the US Armed Forces for the sheer quantity of hilarious, and sometimes fitting, acronyms.

US Armed forces – the granddaddies of acronym abuse:

18. MANPADS – Man-portable air-defense systems
(we didn’t make this up)

19. DILD* – Direct Input Limited Duty Officer
(we didn’t make this up)

20. iBOM (“I bomb”) – Ionizing Brownout Mitigation System
(we didn’t make this up)

21. ASRAAM – Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile
(we didn’t make this up)

22. AS*BAG – Airframe Structure Support Boeing Advisory Group
(we didn’t make this up)

23. AARG – Affordable Accurate Robot Guidance
(we didn’t make this up)

24. IPODS – Integrated Precision Ordnance Delivery System
(we didn’t make this up)

25. S*IT – Store High in Transit
(we didn’t make this up)

 The whole NOMO series:


  1. [...] are my favorites. You could check out more in Beg to Differ’s NOMO: The 25 worst acronyms in the world and in Linkedin’s discussion Worst acronym for an organization [...]

  2. [...] MTV / Music Television. In February 2010, the venerable Cable brand MTV made news by finally “bowing to the inevitable” and removing the term “Music Television” from its corporate identity. So okay. But the M in MTV still stands for “Music” and will for as long as they keep it around. And as I’ve said many times: an abbreviation is not a brand! [...]

  3. [...] Beg to Differ - A branding and social media strategy blog – by DenVan – NOMO: The 25 worst acronyms [...]

  4. [...] are my favorites. You could check out more in Beg to Differ’s NOMO: The 25 worst acronyms in the world and in Linkedin’s discussion Worst acronym for an organization [...]

  5. [...] how much time does it really save? How many people are ever going to figure out what MANPADS stands for? Or remember that the USA PATRIOT Act is even an acronym? (If you’re curious: Uniting and [...]

  6. […] to STUPID – St. Thomas University of Public International Diplomacy – which I've been told is real.  So, if you want to speak to a PERP, remember to call (916) 324-PERP […]