Charlie Foxtrot is the NATO phonetic acronym of

cluster fuck

which is clearly fairly rude. If you were not aware of the meaning, you would have no idea what I was talking about.

Is there a polite version to convey the same meaning that does not rely on knowing the etymology of Charlie Foxtrot?

Note that I could care less if the initial of the new term were CF or anything else. I am looking for a meaning alternative not a obfuscation.

  • You could always go with the tried-and-tested method of spoonerisms: fustercluck! Feb 10, 2016 at 9:04
  • Sounds like a wonderful opportunity for coining a bit of rhyming slang.
    – Rob_Ster
    Feb 10, 2016 at 11:51
  • Are you looking for another C-F word pair? Like clown frown? :P
    – Tim Ward
    Feb 10, 2016 at 12:05
  • I like the term 'omni-shambles.' Originally used by Malcom Tucker in Thick of It - not usually know for his 'polite' forms.
    – Jascol
    Feb 10, 2016 at 12:53
  • Well, it's still not officially "polite", but the time-honored snafu has the same basic meaning and is more generally understood. Perhaps a preacher might hesitate to use it from the pulpit, but otherwise it's "acceptable" in most contexts. And if snafu isn't tame enough you can always check it's synonyms.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 10, 2016 at 14:07

4 Answers 4


Assuming you still want it to be abbreviated to CF, here's one:

Completely Fried.

This is an allusion to short-circuited electronics. Here's a link to a picture of a board said to be fried by lightning. Here's another that shows a more serious 'frying' of the circuit board.


This looks like a job for the trusty thesaurus. In looking up error, I found some great possible choices. Depending on the exact situation which calls for such an exclamation, there are many possible, focused words. Some of the better more general ones include, boo-boo, faux-pas, gaffe, solecism, or bungle. http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/error


There are many versions of CF, but most of the ones I know of are:

  1. FUBAR
  2. SNAFU

They all utilize the same "translation" (so to speak) of the F-word. The reason naturally being that it's abbreviated so the meaning is known without swearing.

Depending on what level of 'CF' you're actually talking about and depending on how clean you want to make it, you'd have options of going with:

MUBAR (messed up....)

Generally speaking, however, I'd say that in circumstances where one would use these acronyms to describe a situation, one is communicating with an audience that understands them.

And if you're trying to convey your meaning to civilians (for example) of a military situation, you could rephrase it entirely to something like Murphy's law — 'Anything that can go wrong, did go wrong' — or a similar type of descriptive terminology.

  • 1
    -1 as both FUBAR and SNAFU use the word that I am trying not to use. +1 for MUBAR. Feb 10, 2016 at 12:08
  • @Sardathrion: You could always claim you thought these terms were abbreviations for "fouled up" (as many people often do) so to avoid the offending word.
    – cobaltduck
    Feb 10, 2016 at 16:28

Is COMFU the acronym you're looking for?

COMFU: (US Military Slang) Completely Fouled Up

The Acronym Finder

  • If the F there stands for "fouled" then so does the one in snafu.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 10, 2016 at 18:14
  • @HotLicks Ain't it what "snafu" actually stands for, "Situation Normal All Fouled Up?"
    – Elian
    Feb 10, 2016 at 18:26
  • If it was then the OP would not object to using snafu.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 10, 2016 at 18:28

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