2 min read

Just STAHP already!

Acronyms (and Abbreviations)


Before I rant too much, all right, yes. Some acronyms are OK and even helpful. Because (hopefully):

Acronyms (should) save effort in communication.

But whose effort? Communication requires the effort of two parties; senders and recipients (and for most conversations we obviously switch roles rapidly between sending and receiving texts/calls/etc.).

"Good" acronyms save effort from both the sender and the receiver. These are often well known acronyms like ASAP or KISS. They are quick to say; quick to write; and quickly understood because of how widespread and memorable they are (being memorable and not too specific makes them widely useable).

All acronyms save a minuscule amount of effort from the sender. But many drastically increase the effort of the receiver (as they mentally translate; or worse go dig through some archaic document of abbreviations; or costliest of all, ask someone the meaning). These are the "bad" ones that I'd like you to STAHP making up. Just remember when weighing the costs and benefits of your acronym, in business, most communication has more recipients than senders. So you should probably STAHP.

Acronyms (and Abbreviations) Hurt

Each acronym and abbreviation we use adds one more point of confusion and catching up for new members of our teams. After a while, new people nearly learn a whole new language of words in order to communicate with you. Not only that, but acronyms aren't unambiguous even in the same business. Imagine reading this in your email inbox:

PR repo ea Mon by ISO for REV to be uploaded to GH


What? Pull Requests repossessed each Month by the International Standards Organization for review will be in Github?

No, no, no. Obviously I'm telling you that the public relations report each Monday by the Internal Service Organization for Recruitment, Engagement, and Volunteerism will be uploaded to Greenhouse. Duh.

This example may be a bit over-contrived. But it also falls painfully close to the reality of corporate communication. I wonder how much time we waste each day explaining and decoding these acronyms instead of spending a fraction of a second to say what we mean (and mean what we say). So just STAHP.


I will accept some acronym use. But please, STAHP inventing new abbreviations and acronyms for every word you say! It usually wastes more time than it saves. This concludes my rant, thank you for reading (and STAHP'ing ๐Ÿ˜…).

Do you want someone to STAHP? Here's a markdown STAHP linked to this article for you to use: