Initialese

Initialese is the practice of abbreviating a name or phrase by using first letters of each of the words. The resulting initialisms may be pronounced as individual letters (e.g., BNF), or like words (e.g., FIAWOL).

Fandom is in love with initialisms, for clubs especially, and many of the most important clubs, such as LASFS and NESFA, are known primarily by their initialisms. Some terms that started out as initialisms, like gafia and bem, have turned into words, as far as fandom is concerned.


Tag Cloud: See also the Fancyclopedia 3 tag cloud for Initialism.



from Fancyclopedia 2 ca. 1959
Words compounded from the first letter(s) of each word of a phrase. It became popular in fandom from the government of the New Deal period. Initialese expressions may be contractions of names; bynames; simple or complex catchphrases; etc. Fan clubs are so commonly referred to by their initialese designations that we have used the latter for making entries in this lexicon.

Practically all prozines have initialese designations: AS may mean Amazing Astounding or Astonishing Stories (wherefore preferred contraction for the former is Amz); ASF is Astounding Science-Fiction (and it's sometimes aSF, after 1948 when JWC began to de-emphasize the first word); AmQ, Amazing Quarterly; FA, Fantastic Adventures; FFM, Famous Fantastic Mysteries; FN, Fantastic Novels; F&SF (or MoF&SF) Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; GSF(N) are Galaxy Science Fiction (Novels) tho use of initials for Gold's stuff isn't frequent for some reason. OOTWA was Out Of This World Adventures (with color fantasy section) [two issues this abomination lasted, proving that it is too possible to lose money underestimating public taste]; OW, Other Worlds; PS, Planet Stories; SF+, Science Fiction Plus; SS, Startling Stories, sister to TWS Thrilling Wonder Stories; ToW Tales of Wonder; WT Weird Tales. The old Gernsback WS (Wonder Stories) had a lot of relatives; WSA, Wonder Stories Annual; AWS Air Wonder Stories; SWS Science Wonder Stories; SWQ ditto Quarterly.

Besides ekenames of other sorts, some fans and pros have initialese monikers properly so called: EKB Earle K Bergey; de Dave English; V2 A E vanVogt; 3E, E Everett Evans; RAP Raymond A Palmer; FTL Francis Towner Laney; and two that you find almost everywhere in fandom, WR William Rotsler and DAG Dean A Grennell. Yet others are dealt with under Nicknames.

Some Initialese contractions or catchphrases, like gafia and Mafia, are words in their own right, now; some that haven't yet made the grade include KYHOOYA Keep Your Head Out Of Your Armpit; FLEAC Fandom's Leading Expert And Critic (Walt Willis); LNF Little Name Fan; LMJ Loudmouthed Jackass; SCF Serious Constructive Fan; XOE Ex-Official Editor; GH&CBNF Good Humored and Condescending BNF (Lee Hoffman); FB Fine Business [from radio ham slang]; FIJAGH Fandom is Just a Goddamn Hobby; TA Thanks Awf'ly and QBA Quite Bloody Awful (both of these from Anglofandom); w/dj of a book with dustjacket and better yet JAM (with dust-) jacket and (in) mint (condition); not to mention FPWESFC.

As suggested above, organizations and institutions were the original victims of this sort of thing, almost universal in fandom. Some fan groups not elsewhere mentioned are NFFF for what we define under N3F; PSFS Portland SF Society (the Philadelphia ditto is the most important in fandom); ORT Official Round Table (a chain-letter thru which the N3F directorate conducts business); Z-D, Ziff-Davis Publishing Company.

A sort of initialese are things like QX, "All right", from E E Smith's use of these letters to mean that in the futuristic slang of the Lensman series; and Φred, Fred Pohl from his use of Greek alphabets on the covers of Mind of Man. For further constructions of this type, see Demolishisms.