With the advent of SMS, many common phrases were shortened to WTF, OMG, BTW, etc. And in recent years, with the increased use of these "acronyms", people have started using them in speech too: Saying "o-em-gee", "double yu-tee-eff", "bee-tee-dub" instead of "Oh my god", etc.

I don't mean acronyms or initialisms for nouns, like ATM, AIDS, FBI. I mean phrases that were shortened only to make writing/typing shorter, but ended up being used as acronyms in speech too.

Is there a name for this trend? (Other than 'being an immature teenager')

  • I've not heard, or used, "double yu-tee-eff", more 'whu-tu-fu' which is kind of half way between a slurred version of the full phrase and a phonetics-type sounding out of the letters. Maybe that's just what you do when you are an immature quinquagenarian. ;-)
    – Spagirl
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 11:41
  • @Spagirl A quick trip to urban dictionary (cringe) tells us that people do use it, although i don't know how frequently or in which part of the world. I myself, have heard it from AmE speakers and on American TV.
    – insanity
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 11:45
  • I wasn't doubting it, I was specifically remarking on the way I've heard 'WTF' expressed. I think its because 'double-you' is so long-winded to say. Possibly a Scottish accent requires more syllables to be pronounced than some AME speakers (A scot would never have been the one to dub George Bush Jnr, 'Dubya').
    – Spagirl
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


I know urban Dictionary is not generally considered an acceptable source, but it seems to be appropriate for this application... Texttalk

When a person talks like they text. They say the initials or abbreviated version of a word instead of the actual word or action.
Anne tells a joke.
Robert: (TextTalk)"That was LOL"

Holly and Jen are having a conversation over coffee. Jen gets up to get more coffee and says "BRB" (TextTalk)

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    Urban dictionary is just as good, or better, than a thing like Wikipedia, which is not in any way authoritative or guaranteed to contain accurate and up-to-date information. I have stopped using it. Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 13:15
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    @Clare Urban Dictionary does not have the much larger infrastructure of moderation and editing. That is, UD still lets through a lot of immature crap. It is a source for slang that just doesn't appear in more stable online resources, but the quality of the entries is generally poor.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 13:51
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    That's what makes TUD a good source: the quality of entries can usually be judged by the average user. Not so with Wikipedia. A whole hell of a lot can pass for quality material that really isn't. In the end, it is just as amateurish as TUD. But more deceptive. The unreliable information that Wikipedia provides is just as egregious but sometimes less discernable. @Mitch Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 13:59
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    @Clare OK, I see what you mean, more deceptive. UD does not try to hide how amateurish it is. There are large parts of WP that are trustworthy (math/science) and good starts to those subjects. What sorts of areas do you find unreliability in?
    – Mitch
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 16:25

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