The beginning lines of today’s New York Times article titled “As State of the Union Nears, Congress Plays Musical Chairs” provided me with a set of interesting acronym, word, and idiom new to me, such as “BFF,” “play musical chair” and “good hair,” whose meanings I was able to find out by UrbanDictionary. However, UrbanDictionary defines BFF as ‘an abbreviation mostly written on binders or notes by girls in grade school, however, over the last few years, people who use to use the term in grade school have actually started saying ...’ Is it appropriate or natural to apply an acronym (BFF) being used primarily by gradeschool girls to dignitaries like Senators as exampled by the following sentence. In addition, do you use “BFF” in your colloquial conversation?

Mary from Louisiana asked Olympia from Maine because they are BFFs, but had a backup in Bob from Tennessee in case she was rebuffed. Kirsten from New York went the Sadie Hawkins route and asked John from South Dakota, and thus the deal between two members of the Senate with seriously good hair was sealed.

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    This is quite mild stuff compared to the way Private Eye used to describe the House of Commons. – Brian Hooper Jan 23 '11 at 8:10
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    decent adults like Senate members? – ShreevatsaR Jan 23 '11 at 9:06
  • Just to be on the same page here, “BFF” stands for “best friends forever” in this context? – Konrad Rudolph Jan 23 '11 at 11:50

It's not appropriate or natural to refer to adults as "BFFs."

"BFF" is usually seen as a goofy, over the top expression and thus is rarely used seriously by adults. However, it's not uncommon for a adults to use the over the top and goofy nature of the expression for comical effects.

In this context, the author is trying to humorously summarize the reasons some senators mentioned in the article gave for picking who they'll sit next to for President Obama's State of the Union address. Here, BFF is used to mock Senator Mary L. Landrieu's comment that Senator Olympia Snowe was "one of [her] best girlfriends:

“I asked one of my best girlfriends to be my date for the night,” Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, said of her choice, Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine. “Of course, we share the Small Business Committee.”

  • Leading to an extra level of confusion. In B.E. boy or girlfriend pretty much assumes a romantic link, in A.E. girlfriend said by a women just means another women friend - although I don't think many straight American men use boyfriend for their buddies. – mgb Apr 7 '11 at 17:38
  • @mgb I have seen the word boyfriend used that way, but only once (in a book by Jehovah's Witnesses). I've never seen this use of BFF before. Gay culture uses the same initials to mean "best female friend". – TRiG Apr 10 '11 at 0:45

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