50 Acronyms and Initialisms All Spelled Out

Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images

You know the brands and companies, but do you know what all those letters stand for?

1. BMW

The white and blue BMW logo
Jacques Demarthon, AFP/Getty Images

BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke in German, which translates to "Bavarian Motor Works."

2. L.L. BEAN

A man surrounded by LL Bean boxes.
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

The company is named after its founder, Leon Leonwood Bean.

3. CVS

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

When it was founded in 1963, CVS originally stood for Consumer Value Stores. At that time, it sold health and beauty products. Only in 1967 did CVS begin operating locations with pharmacy departments. In 1969, CVS was sold to Melville Corporation, and in 1996, it became "CVS Corporation."

4. YKK

Those letters on seemingly every zipper stand for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha in Japanese, which translates to "Yoshida Manufacturing Corporation." The first word refers to the founder, Tadao Yoshida.

5. A&W

Scott Olson, Getty Images

The A and W of A&W are founders (Roy) Allen and (Frank) Wright.

6. M&M'S

Spencer Platt, Getty Images

M&M’s stands for Mars & Murrie's, referring to founders Forrest Mars, Sr. and Bruce Murrie.

7. 3M

Koen van Weel, AFP/Getty Images

3M Company—which became its legal name in 2002—is an abbreviation of its former moniker, the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.

8. HSBC

Miguel Medina, AFP/Getty Images

HSBC stands for Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

9. TCBY

TCBY
iStock

TCBY stands for The Country's Best Yogurt. It used to mean This Can't Be Yogurt, but they were sued by the rival frozen yogurt chain I Can't Believe It's Yogurt!, which was founded four years before TCBY.

10. KMART

Kmart
Scott Olson, Getty Images

Kmart is not, in fact, a place to shop for K's. The K is for Kresge, as in founder Sebastian S. Kresge.

11. DSW

DSW
Emmanuel Dunand, AFP/Getty Images

DSW stands for Designer Shoe Warehouse.

12. JCPENNEY

JCPenney
Drew Angerer, Getty Images

JCPenney was founded by James Cash Penney. With a name like that, he was destined to go into the world of business.

13. FIAT

FIAT logo
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

FIAT originally stood for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, which translates as "Italian automobile factory of Turin."

14. TASER

TASER
Fred Dufour, AFP/Getty Images

The name TASER comes from Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle, a 1911 science fiction novel by Victor Appleton that imagined an electric gun. The device from the book was the inspiration for the real-life TASER.

15. SMART CAR

Smart car
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

A collaboration between Swatch and Mercedes, the "smart" in smart car is short for Swatch Mercedes Art.

16. ZIP CODE

packages
iStock

The "ZIP" stands for Zone Improvement Plan.

17. USA PATRIOT ACT

American flag
iStock

This long acronym means Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.

18. EOS

Sebastian Reuter, Getty Images for OuterInsight

You might know eos as the cosmetic company that makes those delightful spherical lip balms. The name is short for Evolution of Smooth.

19. MAC

MAC Cosmetics store
Andreas Rentz, Getty Images

MAC (stylized as M·A·C) stands for Make-up Art Cosmetics (saying MAC Cosmetics is technically redundant). It was founded by makeup artist and photographer Frank Toskan and salon owner Frank Angelo with the goal of creating cosmetics that photographed well.

20. P.C. RICHARD & SON

Refrigerators in a P.C. Richard & Son
Mario Tama, Getty Images

This store was named for founder Peter Christian Richard.

21. REI

an REI store
Kena Betancur, AFP/Getty Images

REI = Recreational Equipment, Inc.

22. H&M

Sean Gallup, Getty Images

The company started in 1947 as women's fashion retailer Hennes, Swedish for "Hers." In 1968, they acquired hunting apparel and fishing equipment retailer Mauritz Widforss and the name became Hennes & Mauritz. In 1974, it was simplified to just H&M.

23. IBM

Alexander Koerner, Getty Images

The technology company's name stands for International Business Machines.

24. D.A.R.E.

Lance Cpl. Samantha Foster, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

D.A.R.E. is an acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. It also works as part of the motto "D.A.R.E. to resist drugs and violence," which was emblazoned on t-shirts that became a fad in the '90s.

25. GEICO

Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

GEICO stands for Government Employees Insurance Company. Why? When GEICO first started, it was targeted to U.S. government employees and military personnel.

26. NECCO

NECCO stands for New England Confectionery Company.

27. FAO SCHWARZ

FAO Schwarz
Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images

Frederick August Otto Schwarz founded the legendary toy store, which closed in 2015 only to announce in 2017 that it's coming back to New York City.

28. DHL

DHL truck
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

The shipping and transportation company was christened after the last names of the founders: Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom, and Robert Lynn.

29. JBL

JBL iPod speaker
William B. Plowman, Getty Images

The speaker company was founded by James B. Lansing, and its full name was James B. Lansing Sound, Incorporated. After a legal dispute about their name, the company decided to go by "JBL."

30. ALF

Amazon

The 1986 series ALF follows Gordon Shumway, an extraterrestrial being whose nickname is an acronym for Alien Life Form.

31. UPS

Scott Olson, Getty Images

UPS stands for United Parcel Service. (The company's full name is United Parcel Service of America.)

32. E.L.F.

Shantel Jang, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This makeup brand's name isn't referring to the mythical creature—e.l.f. is an acronym for eyes, lips, face.

33. PAM

iStock

The cooking spray isn't named after anyone called Pam. It stands for Product of Arthur Meyerhoff, the founder of PAM Products, Inc.

34. BJ'S

Jeff Fusco, Getty Images

The "BJ" in BJ's Wholesale Club refers to Beverly Jean Weich, the daughter of Mervyn Weich, the company's first president.

35. CAPTCHA

iStock

That code you have to type in for security purposes stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.

36. AFLAC

Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

The American Family Life Insurance Company of Columbus was founded in 1955, later altering the name to the American Family Life Assurance Company, and the acronym Aflac was adopted in 1989.

37. O.P.I.

Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images for ELLE Magazine

Nail polish brand OPI (stylized as O·P·I) was originally founded as dental supply Odontorium Products Inc. The company’s CEO made the switch when he realized that their dental acrylics were being used in the manicure industry.

38. L.E.I.

l.e.i. jeans
Walmart

Girls who grew up in the '90s and '00s will remember the denim label l.e.i. (which still exists!). The brand, which was marketed exclusively to teens and young adults, stands for Life Energy Intelligence.

39. HTC

HTC Vive VR headset
Tomohiro Ohsumi, Getty Images

HTC is frequently cited as standing for High Tech Computer Company (yes, there's only one "C" in the initialism), but many point out the coincidence of the co-founder’s name being HT Cho.

40. WWE

John Cena with WWE background
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

WWE is a pretty straightforward initialism: World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

41. WWF

paper lantern with WWF logo
Filippo Monteforte, AFP/Getty Images

WWF, with its iconic giant panda logo, stands for World Wildlife Fund in the U.S. and Canada. In other markets, it stands for World Wide Fund for Nature.

42. ESPN

People arrive at the Invictus Games Orlando 2016
Chris Jackson, Getty Images for Invictus Games

ESPN = Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.

43. LG

LG logo
Pau Barrena, AFP/Getty Images

LG used to mean Lucky-Goldstar, but now the company says its initials stand for "Life's Good."

44. UNICEF

Unicef banner
iStock

UNICEF = United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. As its mandate changed, it became the United Nations Children's Fund.

46. NBC

NBC logo
Michael Nagle, Getty Images

National Broadcasting Company.

47. ABC

ABC logo
Mario Tama, Getty Images

American Broadcasting Company.

48. CBS

CBS headquarters
Andrew Burton, Getty Images

CBS is an abbreviation of the company's former full name: Columbia Broadcasting System. In 1974, it became known as simply "CBS."

49. CNN

CNN building
David McNew, Newsmakers

Cable News Network.

50. H&R BLOCK

H&R Block
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

The tax preparation company was founded by brothers Henry W. Bloch and Richard Bloch.

10 Things You Might Not Know About the Invictus Games

Harry How, Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation
Harry How, Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

Though the media tends to dwell on the private life of Prince Harry and his recent marriage to actor Meghan Markle, the Duke of Sussex has more on his mind than tabloids might suggest. Beginning October 20 in Sydney, Australia, and running through October 27, he'll be presenting the Invictus Games, a multi-sport competition he created in 2014 for wounded veterans. Athletes will participate in a variety of sports, including wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball, in an attempt to earn medals and, in Harry's words, "demonstrate life beyond disability."

For more on the history (and future) of the Games, check out our round-up below.

1. IT WAS INSPIRED BY AN AMERICAN COMPETITION.

Prince Harry talks to a Warrior Games representative in the United States
Arthur Edwards-Pool, Getty Images

While on a promotional tour of the United States to raise awareness for his charities, Prince Harry was invited to appear in support of the British team in the Warrior Games, a competition for wounded service veterans that was held in Colorado in 2013. Impressed by the camaraderie and enthusiasm shown by participants, he took the concept and created the Invictus (Latin for "unvanquished" or "unconquered") Games. The inaugural event was held in London in September 2014. "It was such a good idea by the Americans that it had to be stolen," he joked.

2. IT'S FUNDED IN PART BY BANK FINES.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stand on the sidelines
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

While the Invictus Games attract corporate sponsors—including Jaguar—to subsidize the operating costs of the event, funds for the 2014 installment also came from fines levied against British banks that were charged with manipulating currency exchange rates. Approximately £1 million (roughly $1,300,000) were made available from the fines, matching the £1 million Prince Harry donated via his Royal Foundation.

3. THE GAMES FEATURE INDOOR ROWING.

An athlete in the Invictus Games competes in indoor rowing
Steve Bardens, Getty Images for Invictus Games

Invictus invites athletes to compete across a range of adaptive sporting events—sports that have been modified to be all-inclusive for people with an array of physical challenges. In sitting volleyball, athletes have to keep one butt cheek touching the floor while touching the ball. In indoor rowing, athletes use a rowing machine to simulate outdoor rowing.

4. WHEELCHAIR RUGBY GETS INTENSE.

Invictus Games athletes participate in wheelchair rugby
Chris Jackson, Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

If you have an impression that modified sports are somehow easier than their able-bodied counterparts, you're mistaken. In wheelchair rugby, athletes attempt to get a volleyball across a court and between two cones on the opposing team's side. They experience frequent collisions that appear to have more in common with demolition derbies than football, and participants are sometimes blindsided by the hits, which can bend wheels and axles.

5. IT'S NOT JUST FOR HUMANS.

A service dog shakes off water after a swim at the Invictus Games
Chris Jackson, Getty Images for Invictus

Because many disabled veterans rely on service dogs to assist in tasks of daily living, Games officials were more than willing to open their doors to the animals during the 2016 event in Orlando. At the last minute, organizers permitted the dogs to jump in the pool for an unofficial race. (Though it was held at Disney World, Pluto was not invited to participate in the doggy-paddle event.)

6. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN MADE AN APPEARANCE.

Bruce Springsteen shakes the hand of a war veteran at the Invictus Games
Chris Jackson, Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

Prince Harry's involvement has contributed heavily to appearances by a number of well-known public figures at the Games. Former president Barack Obama and Joe Biden attended the 2017 competition; David Beckham was named the 2018 ambassador. In 2017, Bruce Springsteen closed out the event in Toronto with a solo set. He was later joined on stage by Bryan Adams.

7. THERE WAS A GAP YEAR.

Prince Harry talks to representatives at the Invictus Games
Gregory Shamus, Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

After the 2014 Games in London, Orlando hosted the 2016 contest and Toronto held the 2017 installment. There was no 2015 edition—the Games used a gap year in order for Orlando to raise the funds to organize the event. The competition will also skip 2019, moving to the Hague in the Netherlands for the 2020 Games.

8. IT'S GETTING MORE VETERANS INVOLVED IN SPORTS.

A group of athletes huddle during the Invictus Games
Harry How, Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

Members of the armed services don't need to compete in the Games to feel their influence. Following the inaugural 2014 event, Help for Heroes, which assisted in recruiting British athletes for competition, reported that there was a 463 percent increase in veterans signing up for archery talent assessments and a 633 percent increase in powerlifting enrollees.

9. THE GAMES WILL BE STUDIED BY SCIENCE.

An Invictus Games athlete holds up a trophy
Paul Thomas, Getty Images for Jaguar Land Rover

Participation in Invictus appears to be a significant boost for the overall morale of contestants. And thanks to a grant from the Forces in Mind Trust, we'll eventually have some objective evidence of it. For the next four years, researchers will follow 300 athletes to assess their overall well-being compared to non-participants. Such evidence of the benefits of adaptive sport will likely contribute to a greater number of participants—and funding—in the future.

10. A COMMEMORATIVE COIN WAS ISSUED IN BRAILLE.

An Invictus Games commemorative coin features text in Braille
Royal Australian Mint

In honor of the Invictus Games' vision-impaired contestants, the Royal Australian Mint issued its first-ever coin with Braille text. Intended to commemorate and publicize the 2018 event in Sydney, the coin features a disabled competitor and "Sydney '18" in Braille. The $1 AUD coin sells for $15 AUD (about $11) and is limited to a run of 30,000. A gold-plated version is limited to 2018 copies and sells for $150 AUD ($108).

12 Facts About Fibromyalgia

iStock.com/spukkato
iStock.com/spukkato

To people living with fibromyalgia, the symptoms are all too real. Muscle tenderness, full-body pain, and brain fog make it hard to function—and getting a restful night’s sleep isn’t much easier. To the frustration of patients, other aspects of the chronic condition—such as what causes it, how to diagnose it, and how to treat it—are more of a mystery. But after decades of rampant misconceptions, we know more facts about fibromyalgia than ever before.

1. SYMPTOMS FEEL DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE.

Symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary widely. The defining characteristic of the condition is widespread pain, or pain felt throughout the entire body, but how often this pain occurs and how intensely it’s felt is different in each patient. Some people may feel pain reminiscent of a sunburn, a pins-and-needle sensation, sharp stabbing, or some combination of the above. Beyond pain, the condition can come with fatigue, disrupted sleep, depression and anxiety, and trouble focusing (known as “fibro fog").

2. IT AFFECTS MOSTLY WOMEN.

Most fibromyalgia patients are female, making it more prevalent in women than breast cancer. Not only are women more likely to have fibromyalgia than men, but they report experiencing the symptoms more acutely as well. Researchers still aren’t sure why the condition has a disproportionate impact on women, but they speculate that because the diagnosis is most common during a woman's fertile years, it may have something to do with estrogen levels. Some experts also suspect that the condition may be under-diagnosed in men because it’s often labeled a woman’s problem.

3. IT’S RARE.

Though it has gained visibility in recent years, your chances of experiencing fibromyalgia are still slim. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it affects roughly 4 million adults in the U.S., or 2 percent of the population. Fibromyalgia’s similarity to other mysterious conditions also means it is likely overdiagnosed, so that number may be even lower.

4. MOST PEOPLE GET IT IN MIDDLE AGE.

People who have fibromyalgia tend to develop it well into adulthood. The condition is most common in 30- to 50-year-olds, but people of all ages—including children and seniors—can have it. Fibromyalgia in patients 10 and younger, also called juvenile fibromyalgia, often goes unrecognized.

5. IT’S HARD TO DIAGNOSE.

There’s no one medical test that you can take to confirm you have fibromyalgia. Instead, doctors diagnosis patients who exhibit the condition’s most common symptoms—widespread pain, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and muscle tenderness in certain points on the body—by process of elimination. Polymyalgia rheumatica and hypothyroidism (or an underactive thyroid gland) provoke similar symptoms, and both show up in blood tests. Doctors will usually tests for these conditions and others before diagnosing a person with fibromyalgia.

6. THE NAME IS RELATIVELY NEW.

People have suffered from fibromyalgia for centuries, but it received its official name only a few decades ago. In 1976, the word fibromyalgia was coined to describe the condition, with fibro coming from fibrous tissue, myo from the Greek word for muscle, and algia from the Greek word for pain. The name replaced fibrositis, which was used when doctors incorrectly believed that fibromyalgia was caused by inflammation (which -itis is used to denote).

7. IT MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH PTSD.

Health experts have long known that post-traumatic stress disorder can manifest in physical symptoms—now they suspect the disorder is sometimes connected to fibromyalgia. According to a study published in the European Journal of Pain in 2017, 49 percent of 154 female fibromyalgia patients had experienced at least one traumatic event in childhood, and 26 percent had been diagnosed with PTSD. Researchers also saw a correlation between trauma and the intensity of the condition, with subjects with PTSD experiencing more and worse fibromyalgia pain than those without it.

8. IT’S NOT “ALL IN YOUR HEAD.”

As is the case with many invisible illnesses, fibromyalgia patients are often told their symptoms are purely psychological. But findings from a 2013 study suggested what many sufferers already knew: Their pain is more than just a product of mental distress or an overactive imagination. The small study, published in the journal Pain Medicine, found extra sensory nerve fibers around certain blood vessel structures in the hands of 18 of 24 female fibromyalgia patients compared to 14 of 23 controls. The study proposed that the nerve endings—once thought to merely regulate blood flow—may also be able to perceive pain, an idea that could help dispel a harmful myth surrounding the condition.

9. IT’S CONNECTED TO ARTHRITIS, CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME, AND IBS.

For many patients, fibromyalgia isn’t the only chronic condition they suffer from. Fibromyalgia has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep apnea, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, and other medical problems. In some cases, as with chronic fatigue syndrome, the two conditions have such similar symptoms that their diagnostic criteria overlaps. Others conditions like irritable bowel syndrome are related to fibromyalgia—not confused with it.

10. IT'S PROBABLY NOT GENETIC—BUT IT CAN CLUSTER IN THE FAMILIES.

If you're closely related to someone with fibromyalgia, you're more likely to have it yourself. Studies have shown that the diagnosis tends to cluster in families. At first this seems to suggest that the condition is genetic, but scientists have yet to identify a specific gene that's directly responsible for fibromyalgia. The more likely explanation for the trend is that members of the same family experience the same environmental stressors that can trigger the symptoms, or they share genes that are indirectly related to the issue.

11. ANTIDEPRESSANTS CAN HELP ...

Since we don't know what causes fibromyalgia, it's hard to treat. But patients are often prescribed antidepressants to ease their symptoms. These medications have been shown to alleviate some of the most debilitating hallmarks of the condition, such as general pain and restless nights. Doctors who support antidepressants as a fibromyalgia treatment are quick to note that that doesn’t make the condition a mental disorder. While these drugs can lift the depressed moods that sometimes come with fibromyalgia, they also function as painkillers.

12. ... AND SO CAN EXERCISE.

One of the most common pieces of advice fibromyalgia patients get from doctors is to exercise. Hitting the gym may seem impossible for people in too much pain to get off the couch, but physical activity—even in small doses—can actually alleviate pain over time. It also works as treatment for other fibromyalgia symptoms like depression and fatigue.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER