VEBA, CHIFF, DWEBNY: Acronyms You Can Use

I’ve always liked acronyms and the challenge of compressing several ideas into one invented “word.”  ‘ Good ‘nyms are not only quicker than reciting the whole string of words, but they serve as memory devices as well; it’s easier to remember SCUBA than “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.”

So I chuckled when I came across a new (to me) ‘nym in the United Auto Workers mini-strike against General Motors:  VEBA, or  voluntary employee benefit association. In essence, creating a VEBA means that G.M. will no longer have to carry the debt it will owe for employee and retiree health care benefits on its books, which might give it a fighting chance of competing with Toyota and other car makers in the cutthroat global arena.

No sooner had I digested VEBA than I ran across CHIFF, the motto of Cranium, the cool board-game maker whose stuff I only see in Starbucks.CHIFF stands for Clever, High-Quality, Innovative, Friendly and Fun, which sums up what the company hopes to offer customers.

That might be a good exercise for all of us: If you had to create a ‘nym that reflects your philosophy of life, your mission statement, or your company’s ethos, what would it be? Hope it’s not SIABRI (Stuck in a Barely Relevant Industry) or DWEBNY–Doubt We’ll Exist By Next Year, as in “Man, this place is totally DWEBNY.”

Fellow blogger The Fab Sage, who struts his stuff in the Manhattan Mercury, came up with a super ‘nym a few years ago to describe one of his cardinal beliefs: ETSOTTGO, for “easier to stay out than to get out.” Ain’t that the truth?

I came up with BIWISI for “believe it when I see it” and SLAGIAT for “Seemed like a good idea at the time,” which describes far too many of my youthful indiscretions.

 For some time, I’ve been wanting an acronym that would express one of the most common mental phenomena of middle-aged life. Anyone much past 30 often finds himself  lamenting the passing of some place, person, activity or product that served as an emotional placeholder in the memory. When he/she/it has gone, there’s a moment of wistful sadness.

The other day, the lightning bolt of Acronymic Bliss struck.  I happened to remember a book of poems by a writer named, I think,  Leon Stokesbury. It was called The Gradual Drifting Away of All We Once Held Essential, which really captures the feeling I’m talking about.

 Change that title to an acronym and you get  TGDAOAWOHE   (tug-dow-WHOA-e). Usage: “Man, I drove by the first house I ever lived in the other day, and they’d torn the thing down. I really had a moment of TGDAOAWOHE.”

Keep that in mind, and I bet you’ll have one of those TGDAOAWOHE moments in the next few days.

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