Share on Facebook

31 Common Acronyms You’d Never Figure Out

IKEA, TIME, and TASER had us scratching our heads when we tried to guess what they stood for. How many of these common acronyms do you know?

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does WD-40 stand for?

WD-40 stands for Water Displacement – 40th Attempt. (That’s how long it took the manufacturers to figure out the recipe.) Check out these amazing uses for WD-40.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does CVS stand for?

CVS stands for Consumer Value Stores. (It might also have a second meaning, though—learn why.)

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does M&M’s stand for?

M&Ms stands for Mars & Murrie’s, the last names of the candy’s founders.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does PAM Cooking Spray stand for?

PAM stands for Product of Arthur Meyerhoff.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does NECCO stand for?

NECCO stands for New England Confectionery Company. Here are some food names you’re probably pronouncing all wrong.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does Yahoo! stand for?

YAHOO stands for Yet Another Hierarchical Official Oracle. Check out these other fascinating origins of famous company names.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does TASER stand for?

TASER stands for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does ‘Smart’ Car stand for?

A collaboration between Swatch and Mercedes, Smart Car is short for Swatch + Mercedes + Art.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does ZIP code stand for?

Your ZIP code is actually your Zone Improvement Plan code. Learn how ZIP codes came to be, and what each of the numbers mean.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does the USA PATRIOT Act stand for?

The USA PATRIOT Act stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (seriously). Linguists call this a “backronym”—the word “Patriot” was likely picked first, then an acronym written to fit it. Learn the way almost every country in the world gets its name.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does TIME Magazine stand for?

TIME stands for “The International Magazine of Events.”

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does IKEA stand for?

IKEA stands for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd, named for the founder’s initials and his hometown. Here are the secrets IKEA employees won’t tell you.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does CAPTCHA stand for?

That code you have to type into websites to prove you’re not a robot has a name, and that name is a really complicated acronym. CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. (*Takes deep, human breath*)

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does LASER stand for?

Laser stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Here are some common medical acronyms you really should know.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does canola oil stand for?

Canola stands for Canada oil, low acid. There is no canola plant; the oil comes from rapeseed. Learn some more facts you never knew about the origins of your favorite foods.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does GIF stand for?

GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. You’ll never believe what the World Wide Web was almost called.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does GEICO stand for?

GEICO stands for Government Employees Insurance Company. The product was first targeted toward government and military employees. Here are some more words and phrases you had no idea originated in the military.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does Arby’s stand for?

Arby’s is a play on RB, for the chain’s founders, the Raffel brothers. In the ‘80s, an ad campaign came up with the delightful (but fake) acronym, America’s Roast Beef, Yes Sir! Learn the funny story behind another famous fast food chain name: Taco Bell.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does Nabisco stand for?

Nabisco stands for National Biscuit Company.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does NERF stand for?

NERF stands for Non Expandable Recreational Foam.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does SPAM stand for?

SPAM stands for Shoulder of Pork and Ham. Here are more odd facts about iconic American products.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does A&W stand for?

A&W stands for its founders, (Roy) Allen and (Frank) Wright. (Not ‘Amburgers and Wootbeer, unfortunately.) Check out these fascinating origins of popular sodas you love to drink.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does BMW stand for?

BMW means Bayerische Motoren Werke, which translates from German to “Bavarian Motor Works.”

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does TCBY stand for?

TCBY stands for The Country’s Best Yogurt. It originally stood for “This Can’t Be Yogurt”—until the company was sued by I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt!, a rival chain.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does 3M stand for?

3M, the company that makes Post-Its and most office supplies, stands for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. Here’s a brilliant way to use Post-Its to keep your office clean.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does FAO Schwartz stand for?

FAO Schwartz stands for Frederick August Otto Schwarz, who founded the toy company with his brothers. You won’t believe the bizarre original purposes of these classic American toys!

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does H&M stand for?

H&M stands for Hennes & Mauritz. Originally just called Hennes, the clothing company merged with hunting goods store Mauritz Widforss in 1968, becoming H&M. Learn more about the history and name of this famous retailer.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does AFLAC stand for?

AFLAC stands for American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does EPCOT center stand for?

Disney’s EPCOT stands for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. Don’t miss these mind-blowing facts about Disneyland.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does CD-ROM stand for?

CD-ROM stands for Compact Disc read-only memory.

Emma Kapotes/Rd.com

What does SOS stand for?

SOS… doesn’t stand for anything! It was chosen as a sign of distress for its unmistakable Morse code representation—three dots, three dashes, three dots. Learn the history of how this popular non-acronym came to be.