50 Acronyms and Initialisms All Spelled Out

Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images

You know the brands and companies, but do you know what all those letters stand for?

1. BMW

The white and blue BMW logo
Jacques Demarthon, AFP/Getty Images

BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke in German, which translates to "Bavarian Motor Works."

2. L.L. BEAN

A man surrounded by LL Bean boxes.
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

The company is named after its founder, Leon Leonwood Bean.

3. CVS

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

When it was founded in 1963, CVS originally stood for Consumer Value Stores. At that time, it sold health and beauty products. Only in 1967 did CVS begin operating locations with pharmacy departments. In 1969, CVS was sold to Melville Corporation, and in 1996, it became "CVS Corporation."

4. YKK

Those letters on seemingly every zipper stand for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha in Japanese, which translates to "Yoshida Manufacturing Corporation." The first word refers to the founder, Tadao Yoshida.

5. A&W

Scott Olson, Getty Images

The A and W of A&W are founders (Roy) Allen and (Frank) Wright.

6. M&M'S

Spencer Platt, Getty Images

M&M’s stands for Mars & Murrie's, referring to founders Forrest Mars, Sr. and Bruce Murrie.

7. 3M

Koen van Weel, AFP/Getty Images

3M Company—which became its legal name in 2002—is an abbreviation of its former moniker, the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.

8. HSBC

Miguel Medina, AFP/Getty Images

HSBC stands for Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

9. TCBY

TCBY
iStock

TCBY stands for The Country's Best Yogurt. It used to mean This Can't Be Yogurt, but they were sued by the rival frozen yogurt chain I Can't Believe It's Yogurt!, which was founded four years before TCBY.

10. KMART

Kmart
Scott Olson, Getty Images

Kmart is not, in fact, a place to shop for K's. The K is for Kresge, as in founder Sebastian S. Kresge.

11. DSW

DSW
Emmanuel Dunand, AFP/Getty Images

DSW stands for Designer Shoe Warehouse.

12. JCPENNEY

JCPenney
Drew Angerer, Getty Images

JCPenney was founded by James Cash Penney. With a name like that, he was destined to go into the world of business.

13. FIAT

FIAT logo
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

FIAT originally stood for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, which translates as "Italian automobile factory of Turin."

14. TASER

TASER
Fred Dufour, AFP/Getty Images

The name TASER comes from Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle, a 1911 science fiction novel by Victor Appleton that imagined an electric gun. The device from the book was the inspiration for the real-life TASER.

15. SMART CAR

Smart car
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

A collaboration between Swatch and Mercedes, the "smart" in smart car is short for Swatch Mercedes Art.

16. ZIP CODE

packages
iStock

The "ZIP" stands for Zone Improvement Plan.

17. USA PATRIOT ACT

American flag
iStock

This long acronym means Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.

18. EOS

Sebastian Reuter, Getty Images for OuterInsight

You might know eos as the cosmetic company that makes those delightful spherical lip balms. The name is short for Evolution of Smooth.

19. MAC

MAC Cosmetics store
Andreas Rentz, Getty Images

MAC (stylized as M·A·C) stands for Make-up Art Cosmetics (saying MAC Cosmetics is technically redundant). It was founded by makeup artist and photographer Frank Toskan and salon owner Frank Angelo with the goal of creating cosmetics that photographed well.

20. P.C. RICHARD & SON

Refrigerators in a P.C. Richard & Son
Mario Tama, Getty Images

This store was named for founder Peter Christian Richard.

21. REI

an REI store
Kena Betancur, AFP/Getty Images

REI = Recreational Equipment, Inc.

22. H&M

Sean Gallup, Getty Images

The company started in 1947 as women's fashion retailer Hennes, Swedish for "Hers." In 1968, they acquired hunting apparel and fishing equipment retailer Mauritz Widforss and the name became Hennes & Mauritz. In 1974, it was simplified to just H&M.

23. IBM

Alexander Koerner, Getty Images

The technology company's name stands for International Business Machines.

24. D.A.R.E.

Lance Cpl. Samantha Foster, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

D.A.R.E. is an acronym for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. It also works as part of the motto "D.A.R.E. to resist drugs and violence," which was emblazoned on t-shirts that became a fad in the '90s.

25. GEICO

Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

GEICO stands for Government Employees Insurance Company. Why? When GEICO first started, it was targeted to U.S. government employees and military personnel.

26. NECCO

NECCO stands for New England Confectionery Company.

27. FAO SCHWARZ

FAO Schwarz
Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images

Frederick August Otto Schwarz founded the legendary toy store, which closed in 2015 only to announce in 2017 that it's coming back to New York City.

28. DHL

DHL truck
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

The shipping and transportation company was christened after the last names of the founders: Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom, and Robert Lynn.

29. JBL

JBL iPod speaker
William B. Plowman, Getty Images

The speaker company was founded by James B. Lansing, and its full name was James B. Lansing Sound, Incorporated. After a legal dispute about their name, the company decided to go by "JBL."

30. ALF

Amazon

The 1986 series ALF follows Gordon Shumway, an extraterrestrial being whose nickname is an acronym for Alien Life Form.

31. UPS

Scott Olson, Getty Images

UPS stands for United Parcel Service. (The company's full name is United Parcel Service of America.)

32. E.L.F.

Shantel Jang, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This makeup brand's name isn't referring to the mythical creature—e.l.f. is an acronym for eyes, lips, face.

33. PAM

iStock

The cooking spray isn't named after anyone called Pam. It stands for Product of Arthur Meyerhoff, the founder of PAM Products, Inc.

34. BJ'S

Jeff Fusco, Getty Images

The "BJ" in BJ's Wholesale Club refers to Beverly Jean Weich, the daughter of Mervyn Weich, the company's first president.

35. CAPTCHA

iStock

That code you have to type in for security purposes stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.

36. AFLAC

Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

The American Family Life Insurance Company of Columbus was founded in 1955, later altering the name to the American Family Life Assurance Company, and the acronym Aflac was adopted in 1989.

37. O.P.I.

Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images for ELLE Magazine

Nail polish brand OPI (stylized as O·P·I) was originally founded as dental supply Odontorium Products Inc. The company’s CEO made the switch when he realized that their dental acrylics were being used in the manicure industry.

38. L.E.I.

l.e.i. jeans
Walmart

Girls who grew up in the '90s and '00s will remember the denim label l.e.i. (which still exists!). The brand, which was marketed exclusively to teens and young adults, stands for Life Energy Intelligence.

39. HTC

HTC Vive VR headset
Tomohiro Ohsumi, Getty Images

HTC is frequently cited as standing for High Tech Computer Company (yes, there's only one "C" in the initialism), but many point out the coincidence of the co-founder’s name being HT Cho.

40. WWE

John Cena with WWE background
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

WWE is a pretty straightforward initialism: World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

41. WWF

paper lantern with WWF logo
Filippo Monteforte, AFP/Getty Images

WWF, with its iconic giant panda logo, stands for World Wildlife Fund in the U.S. and Canada. In other markets, it stands for World Wide Fund for Nature.

42. ESPN

People arrive at the Invictus Games Orlando 2016
Chris Jackson, Getty Images for Invictus Games

ESPN = Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.

43. LG

LG logo
Pau Barrena, AFP/Getty Images

LG used to mean Lucky-Goldstar, but now the company says its initials stand for "Life's Good."

44. UNICEF

Unicef banner
iStock

UNICEF = United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. As its mandate changed, it became the United Nations Children's Fund.

46. NBC

NBC logo
Michael Nagle, Getty Images

National Broadcasting Company.

47. ABC

ABC logo
Mario Tama, Getty Images

American Broadcasting Company.

48. CBS

CBS headquarters
Andrew Burton, Getty Images

CBS is an abbreviation of the company's former full name: Columbia Broadcasting System. In 1974, it became known as simply "CBS."

49. CNN

CNN building
David McNew, Newsmakers

Cable News Network.

50. H&R BLOCK

H&R Block
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

The tax preparation company was founded by brothers Henry W. Bloch and Richard Bloch.

5 Fast Facts About Billy the Kid

On September 23, 1875, Billy the Kid was arrested for the first time. Whether you think he was a misunderstood old West hero or nothing but a cold-blooded killer, it's impossible to argue that he was an interesting man. Here are five facts to prove it.

1. HIS "REAL" NAME IS A TOPIC OF DEBATE.

Billy the Kid's real name? Henry McCarty. Or maybe William Bonney. Or Henry Antrim. Take your pick. He was born Henry McCarty, but there's some speculation that his dad may have been a man named William Bonney. Billy the Kid started using his name at some point in 1877. Antrim was his step-father's last name; he went by that for some time as well.

2. HE WORKED AT A CHEESE FACTORY.

Billy the Kid wasn't always engaging in illegal activities and shooting people; he once worked at a cheese factory—at least he did according to Charlie Bowdre, a man who would later be in Billy's posse, and was part owner of the cheese factory. Bowdre's descendants have said this is where the two of them met, although his employ was short.

3. HIS LEGEND MAY BE A BIT OF AN EXAGGERATION.

You may have heard the legend that Billy killed 21 people—one for each year of his rather short life. It's just that: legend. We only have evidence that Billy killed four people, two of them prison guards. He may have "participated" in the deaths of up to five more people.

4. CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, HE PROBABLY WASN'T LEFT-HANDED.

The reason this notion became widespread is because of the famous ferrotype of him that shows him wearing a gun belt with the holster on the left side. It was later discovered that the image has been reproduced incorrectly and flipped to show the mirror image of what really was. The picture actually shows Billy with his gun on his right hip.

5. SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE HE FAKED HIS OWN DEATH.

Many people—including some claiming to be Billy himself—have said Billy didn't actually die on July 14, 1881 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, which is the official story. Many claim that Sheriff Pat Garrett didn't kill Billy, but actually helped him fake his death and happily ride off into the sunset. No evidence has ever been found to support this, though.

Men claiming to be Billy include Ollie "Brushy Bill" Roberts and a man named John Miller. Brushy Bill started claiming to be Billy the Kid in 1949, and knew quite a few intimate details about Billy's life and the Lincoln Country War. But there were several gunfights he was pretty clueless about, and photo comparisons using sophisticated computer programs show the men to have completely different bone structure and other features.

As for John Miller, his claims were basically put to rest in 2005 when his bones were disinterred and DNA samples were taken. They were compared to a blood sample thought to be Billy the Kid's and there was no match.

10 Intriguing Friends Fan Theories

Getty Images
Getty Images

Friends is a show about twentysomethings navigating life, love, and work in New York City. Ot at least that’s one theory about the beloved sitcom, which debuted on this day in 1994. Here’s another: Friends is a glimpse inside a mental ward, where six disturbed patients are working through their personality disorders. In the 14 years since it went off the air, Friends has inspired a ton of wild fan theories on Reddit and Twitter. Here are a few of the strangest (and be careful: Mr. Heckles’s murderer is still at large).

1. RACHEL DREAMED THE WHOLE THING.

In the summer of 2017, this photo of the Friends season four DVD box ignited a fan frenzy. The image on the box shows the titular pals snoozing side by side. Ross, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler, and Joey all have their eyes shut, but Rachel—resting right in the middle—is wide awake and looking directly at the camera. Why is she the only one with her eyes open? Some fans suggested Rachel was plotting something sinister, or secretly very “woke.” But plenty more insisted it was proof the whole show was Rachel’s dream. According to one Twitter fan, Rachel fell into an anxiety-fueled dream the night before her wedding to Barry and imagined her own group of hip New York friends to cope with her frustration and dread. Except she woke up to reality the next morning, as shown on the DVD cover, where she’s surrounded by her dream friends.

2. PHOEBE HALLUCINATED THE SHOW.

Another popular theory suggests the show was all in Phoebe’s head—only this take is much darker. The basic premise is that Phoebe never got off the streets. She was a lonely, homeless woman with a meth addiction who peered into the window of Central Perk one day. She noticed five friends laughing over coffee, and imagined herself as part of the gang. In this fantasy, her pals didn’t always get her weird sense of humor, but they loved her anyway. In reality, the twentysomethings in the window were wondering why that “crazy lady” was staring at them. This theory gained so much traction that a journalist asked Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman about it at a television festival. She quickly threw water on the whole thing. “That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard,” Kauffman replied. “That’s a terrible theory. That’s insane. Someone needs a life, that’s all I’m saying."

3. IT WAS ONE LONG PROMO FOR STARBUCKS.

The cast of 'Friends'
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

According to one manic Facebook rant, Friends was not a sitcom at all. It was actually a 10-year marketing ploy, designed to make Starbucks the new go-to destination for young people. Why else do the characters spend so much time in a coffee shop? True, the shop is not called Starbucks, but the subliminal evidence lies in Rachel’s last name (Green, like the Starbucks company color) and hair (styled like the mermaid in the Starbucks logo). Then there’s Ross and Monica’s last name, Geller, which is close to the German word gellen. It means “to yell,” just like the Starbucks baristas calling out customer names. The case only gets flimsier from there, but if you really want to read about how Chandler and Moby Dick are connected, you can dive down the rabbit hole here.

4. ROSS LOST CUSTODY OF BEN BECAUSE HE WAS A BAD DAD.

Ross’s son Ben arrives in the very first season of Friends, in the aptly titled episode “The One with the Birth.” He’s a constant character for several seasons, but as the show goes on, Ross seems to spend less and less time with his kid. Ben disappears after the eighth season, and never meets his half-sister Emma onscreen. There’s one explanation for this dropoff: Ross lost custody of his son due to increasingly disturbing behavior.

The blog What Would Bale Do lays out a bunch of examples: Ross sleeps with his students, tries to hook up with his cousin, and asks a self-defense instructor for help scaring his female friends. He’s also generally pretty jealous and possessive. According to this theory, Ross’s ex-wife Carol hit a breaking point and took full custody of their son, which is why Ben stops coming around his dad’s apartment in the later seasons.

5. MR. HECKLES WAS MURDERED.

Rachel and Monica’s mean old neighbor dies of natural causes in season two—or at least that’s what they want you to think. By one Redditor’s account, Mr. Heckles was killed in cold blood. Moments before he dies, Mr. Heckles shows up at Monica and Rachel’s door, complaining that their noise is disturbing his birds. (He does not have birds.) Monica says they’ll try to keep it down and as Mr. Heckles leaves, he says he’s going to rejoin his “dinner party.” Minutes later, he’s dead. Ergo, his dinner party guest killed him. Of course, the likelier explanation is that Mr. Heckles was a crazy old man who wasn’t even having a dinner party. But where’s the fun in that?

6. THERE’S A REASON THEY ALWAYS GOT THAT TABLE AT CENTRAL PERK.

The cast of 'Friends' chats with talk show host Conan O'Brien
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

How did the gang manage to snag the coveted center couch at Central Perk every single time? Simple: Gunther reserved it for them. It was all part of his ongoing campaign to win Rachel’s affections, and it explains why the group never had to fight for seating space. Well, except that one time.

7. THERE’S A PARKS & RECREATION CROSSOVER.

In “The One With All the Candy,” Rachel insists she doesn’t sleep with guys on the first date, only for her friends to immediately call her out. Monica rattles off three names: Matt Wire, Mark Lynn, and Ben Wyatt. Could she be talking about the same Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation? According to Reddit, their ages check out. Ben would’ve been 26 at the time of the episode, making him a perfectly acceptable one-night stand for 29-year-old Rachel. But how does Leslie Knope feel about this?

8. JUDY GELLER HAD AN AFFAIR THAT PRODUCED MONICA.

Ross and Monica’s mom doesn’t even try to hide her favoritism. Judy Geller thinks Ross is a genius and Monica is, well, trying. (But could be trying harder.) One bonkers and since-deleted fan theory suggests Judy’s preference stems from a family secret: At some point in her marriage to Jack Geller, she had an affair, one she could never forget because it spawned Monica. Judy’s shame over this tryst is what causes her to lash out at Monica and praise Ross, her one 'legitimate' child.

9. THEY’RE ALL IN A PSYCH WARD.

Courteney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, and Matthew Perry in a scene from 'Friends.'
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

What if Central Perk wasn’t a coffee shop at all, but rather the cafeteria at a mental institution? As one theory goes, all six main characters are suffering from personality disorders. They’re confined to a facility for treatment, and can only shuffle between their rooms (i.e. their “apartments”) and the cafeteria (i.e. “Central Perk”). This situation also explains why the group is so hostile toward new people. They’re not actually teasing Monica’s new boyfriend; they’re attacking anyone who tries to take one of the friends out of the mental hospital.

10. JOEY REALLY WANTED SOME PANCAKES.

This very silly—but very solid—fan theory is centered on Joey’s love of food. In “The One With Ross’s Library Book,” Joey has a one-night stand with a woman named Erin. He doesn’t want to see her again, and asks Rachel to break the news to her over pancakes. Apparently Chandler used to do this when he lived in the apartment. He’d even save extra pancakes for Joey. Rachel refuses to be a part of this, but once she’s left alone with Erin, she feels bad and offers to cook. Things escalate over the episode and pretty soon, Joey is the one who’s too clingy for Erin. Rachel has to tell him and, feeling bad yet again, she offers pancakes. Reddit claims this was all just a plot for pancakes. It kind of adds up: Joey can’t cook but likes to eat, and he has enough soap opera money to pay an actor (Erin) to play a part in this conspiracy. So he cons his roommate into making pancakes, twice, in a ruse that’s both delicious and diabolical.

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