RAS Syndrome

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http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1005758 Yesterday, I wrote a post that contained the phrase “BFFs Forever” in the title. Commenters were quick to point out the redundancy of “Forever” in the title.

Nice - BTW, your title is redundant, so your title reads “IronRuby and ASP.NET Best Friends Forever Forever”

Thanks! But I had made the very same point in that post.

And for those that don’t know, BFF is an acronym for Best Friends Forever. Yes, the “Forever” is redundant in the blog title, but it’s just how people use it.

Case in point, how often do you hear the phrase “PIN Number” which expands to “Personal Identification Number Number”. I started looking for other examples of such redundant acronyms and sure enough, there’s a term for them and a wikipedia article describing them.

RAS syndrome stands for “Redundant Acronym Syndrome syndrome,” and refers to the use of one of the words that make up an initialism or acronym as well as the abbreviation itself, thus in effect repeating that word. It is itself a humorous example of a redundant acronym.

And in case you didn’t notice, “RAS Syndrome” is itself humorously a RAS. The Wikipedia article points to other great examples.

  • ATM machine
  • HIV virus
  • ISBN number
  • CSS style sheets
  • Please RSVP
  • CNN Network

The article references another page with a collection of more redundant acronyms.

  • LAN network
  • DAT tape
  • RF frequency
  • UPC code

It’s not surprising that most of these come from the technology field as we tend to be very acronym happy and love our TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms).

So now it is my turn to coin a RAS. I am going to call it PCS syndrome which stands for “Premature Correction Syndrome syndrome.” This describes the condition in one is compelled to interject with a correction without having read through the rest of the contents, especially when the author offers an explanation for the seemingly erroneous item. ;)

I’m only teasing because PCS happens to me a lot. I find that the comments to many of my blog posts tend to focus on some irrelevant miniscule detail rather than the topic at hand. Which I’m not necessarily opposed to because that provides great fodder for future blog posts!

Technorati Tags: humor,acronyms,neology

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28 responses

  1. Avatar for Jonas Stawski
    Jonas Stawski June 12th, 2008

    NIC Card => Network Interface Card Card

  2. Avatar for Michael
    Michael June 12th, 2008

    Love it! A nice humorous finish to my Fri afternoon.

  3. Avatar for Andrew January
    Andrew January June 12th, 2008

    ATMOS Systems => Atmospheric Omission System

  4. Avatar for Lou
    Lou June 12th, 2008

    Someone should really come up with a name for when you comment without reading the entire post.

  5. Avatar for Vijay Santhanam
    Vijay Santhanam June 12th, 2008

    PIN Number => Personal Identification Number Number

  6. Avatar for Ryan Smith
    Ryan Smith June 12th, 2008

    Funny that we don't say TLA Acronyms however...huh...
    I shall ponder this...over coffee and frosted Circus Animal cookies.

  7. Avatar for edddy
    edddy June 13th, 2008

    LOL! BPE ever! (Best Post Ever ever :)

  8. Avatar for Ang3lFir3
    Ang3lFir3 June 13th, 2008

    @Lou maybe we should call it PCS Syndrome (premature correction syndrome syndrome)... LOL :p
    @Haacked... love it... great for a fri-13th

    LOL TLA is my fav TLA ever!!

  9. Avatar for Sergio Pereira
    Sergio Pereira June 13th, 2008

    Your post title is redundant. The S in RAS stands for Syndrome. Actually, Wikipedia has an entire page about that. You should pay more attention, Mr Haack.
    Oh, wait!

  10. Avatar for Michael
    Michael June 13th, 2008

    Phil I hope you're not thinking about these sort of things on company time :)

  11. Avatar for haacked
    haacked June 13th, 2008

    @Nice one Sergio. :)

  12. Avatar for HeartattacK
    HeartattacK June 13th, 2008

    @Ang3lFir3: I think Lou's comment was a joke :D:D

  13. Avatar for Adam
    Adam June 13th, 2008

    I will now forever more refer to TLAs as TLA Acronyms.

  14. Avatar for David Arno
    David Arno June 13th, 2008

    I've always thought that "RAS Syndrome" is a daft term. The acronym isn't the redundant part; it is the word after the acronym that is redundant. A far more apt term is RPAWS Syndrome (Redundant Post Acronym Syndrome Syndrome). It doesn't roll off the tongue quite so well though.
    I personally prefer the term "portmanteau bag" for such acronym-word combinations, but it's a much rarer term. On the web, it only seems to be used in a genuinely tautological fashion, rather than ironically.

  15. Avatar for Scott Galloway
    Scott Galloway June 14th, 2008

    The one I always liked is PHP, an intentional Recursive acronym...from The Font of all Knowledge (Wikipedia):
    PHP (a recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor)

  16. Avatar for Elad
    Elad June 14th, 2008

    CMS system => Content management system system

  17. Avatar for David Arno
    David Arno June 14th, 2008

    @Scott - recursive acronyms are an ancient (by computer standards) art, dating back at least to 1978. GNU (GNU's Not Unix) is the most famous from that time, but there were others that pre-date it. Take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recursive_acronym for an idea of how many there are out there.

  18. Avatar for Matt
    Matt June 14th, 2008

    The one that kills me (cuz it's redundant twice): TCP/IP protocol
    Watch out for ETLAs (Extended Three Letter Acronyms. Or four letter acronyms)

  19. Avatar for David Arno
    David Arno June 14th, 2008

    Surely they are FLSFs (Four Letter Shortened Forms)

  20. Avatar for Tim Hustler
    Tim Hustler June 15th, 2008

    how about MIDI Interface?
    Musical Instrument Digital Interface Interface

  21. Avatar for Thomas Freudenberg
    Thomas Freudenberg June 15th, 2008

    My favorite is LCD display (Liquid Crystal Display display)

  22. Avatar for Scott
    Scott June 16th, 2008

    I can't help but notice your improper pluralizing of the phrase BFF. If you expand it out into its component part's, you'll notice that the phrase "Best Friends Forevers" isn't grammatically correct. So, technically it should read "BFF Forever". This minor nitpick ruined the article for me and completely invalidated your post. You can go ahead and fix that now.
    Perhaps you should coin a phrase for the act of correcting a post without having read the complete post?

  23. Avatar for Robz
    Robz June 17th, 2008

    PFT Test - Physical Fitness Test Test. Also called a PT Test.
    @Scott - The pluralizing actually happens in more places that you may have previously noticed. I think the adding the "s" at the end makes things easier to roll off of the tongue. Although it is technically incorrect, it is easier to say. "We are BFF!" vs. "We are BFFs!" Someone might think I was retarded saying either, but moreso the former than the latter.
    The military tends to do this in many places after converting to acronyms. The military is notoriously just as bad about acronyms as IT. At least IT doesn't change their lingo every three years [yet]!
    PTs - The uniform worn when doing Physical Training (PT).
    Legitimate usage: "We wear PTs when we do PT."
    The term PTs as Physical Trainings doesn't make any sense unless you understand it is in reference to the clothing you wear for PT.
    BDUs - Battle Dress Uniform[s], but you are talking about a singular set.
    Legitimate usage: "I am wearing BDUs."
    ACUs - Army Combat Uniform[s] - same as above.

  24. Avatar for Robz
    Robz June 17th, 2008

    The term PTs as Physical Trainings doesn't make any sense unless you understand it is in reference to the clothing you wear for PT.
    Even then, it still doesn't make any sense...

  25. Avatar for Lee Brandt
    Lee Brandt June 21st, 2008

    GCO Outlet => Georgia Carpet Outlet Outlet
    DSW Warehouse => Designer Shoe Warehouse Warehouse
    These are my wives big pet peeve

  26. Avatar for Pablo Marambio
    Pablo Marambio August 11th, 2008


  27. Avatar for Craige
    Craige March 25th, 2009

    I wonder: what is the deepest recursive acronym we could dig up in the case where the acronym referrers to another acronym? Would be interesting to find out...

  28. Avatar for Peter
    Peter March 8th, 2012

    So true. We do add emphasis or direction when including words after an acronym. Another thing people do is try and qualify an word that should not be qualified. It makes my skin crawl when I hear Absolutly unique. Ugg. Just typing it... Its like saying Absolutly pregnant. Either you are or are not. No shades of grey are allowed.