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In association with my question about the meaning of “found-in-a-cabbage-patch look” in the Time magazine’s article, “Playing Favorites,” there was an episode that Charles Dickens experienced a bitter humiliation from his parents’ favoritism to his older sister when he was young. It reads:

“Charles Dickens wrote poignantly about his own LFS, which he experienced most accurately during a period in which his family had only enough money to send his older sister to school while he worked in a boot blacking factory. Even as a highly celebrated adult, he never fully got past the experience.”

What does LFS stand for? Does it mean some traumatic syndrome? I checked the definition of LFS on Google. There were so many definitions of acronyms of LFS that I was unable to close in on the pertinent definition.

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Too localised - Dickens notwithstanding, LFS is not part of the standard English lexicon. –  FumbleFingers Jan 10 '12 at 2:14
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The article gives the meaning of LFS in the paragraph before the quoted one. –  Hugo Jan 10 '12 at 8:06
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closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, Marthaª, Hugo, Barrie England, Kate Gregory Jan 10 '12 at 14:03

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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It stands for least favored status. Here is an informative link which refers to your Time article (including a descriptive picture):


[...] Obviously, it can be damaging to kids to feel that they are "least favored," which is why most parents labor to treat children equitably, whatever their feelings. And there's no denying that what Kluger calls LFS (least favored status) can be a potent wound well into adulthood. He notes that Charles Dickens never got over his LFS, "which he experienced most acutely during a period in which his family had only enough money to send his older sister to school while he worked in a bootblacking factory."

LFS is not a common term in either acronym or expanded form, as evidenced by Ngrams and a Google search (26 results for "least favored status" "lfs", including this page):

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0. Is the use of LFS as the Least Favored Status broadly accepted? I mean most people can easily associate LFS to Least Favored Status in the States? It’s hard, particularly for a non-native English speaker like me to get to that idea. –  Yoichi Oishi Jan 10 '12 at 2:09
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@YoichiOishi: no, without context, most English speakers would be just as puzzled by "LFS" as you were. However, two sentences before your Charles Dickens quote, the author writes: "Psychologist Victoria Bedford of the University of Indianapolis has studied favoritism extensively, looking at the impact of what's known as LFS (least favored status) on children's self-esteem, socialization and relationships with other family members." Once he's defined the abbreviation like this, he's perfectly within his rights to continue using it throughout the rest of the article. –  Marthaª Jan 10 '12 at 2:38
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@Martha. I totally overlooked the writer's previous reference. I should have read more carefully. –  Yoichi Oishi Jan 10 '12 at 3:54
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