Make Your Editor Cry: A Rash of RAS syndrome

Make Your Editor Cry:  A Rash of RAS syndrome

Have you ever heard of RAS sydrome? “RAS” stands for “redundant acronym syndrome.” So if you suffer from RAS syndrome you suffer from “redundant acronym syndrome syndrome.” Are you starting to catch on?If syndrome is too sinister sounding, maybe call it a RAP phrase, which of course means a “Redundant Acronym Phrase phrase.”

NOTE: For the purpose of this article, I am going to refer to acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms collectively as “acronyms.” Yes, I know they are distinct, but play along to conserve words, please. Now back to the article.

So what is an acronym? It’s many things.

  • It’s an Alphabetical Code for Remembering Odd Names You Make up.
  • It’s A Coded Rendition Of Names Yielding Meaning.
  • It’s A Contrived Reduction Of Nouns, Yielding Mnemonics.
  • It’s Another Cryptic Rendition Of Nomenclature You Memorize.
  • Maybe it’s just A Clever Re-Organization to Nudge Your Memory.

Now that we have that straight, how many times have you ever used or heard the phrase BFFs forever (Best Friends Forever forever)? Or, even worse, best BFFs forever (best Best Friends Forever forever)?

Are you short on cash? Maybe you should visit the nearest ATM machine (automated teller machine machine). Be sure to remember your PIN number (Personal Identification Number number).

How about these?

Work for the US government? Are you a VIP Person (very important person person)? Where’s your CAC card (common access card card)? If you’ve lost it, I have to report you to the TAG (the the adjutant general). You could go before a JAG judge (judge advocate general judge). That might initiate an FBI Investigation (Federal Bureau of Investigation investigation).

NOTE: In rare cases, RAS Syndrome even extends to mis-pluralizing an acronym. This happens when pluralizing an acronym while the final expanded word does not have a plural form. For example, the acronym “RBIs” is a rather common usage but spelled out as “Runs Batted Ins” is improper. Maybe you know a BBW, a Big Beautiful Woman. But do you know some “BBWs” or Big Beautiful Womans? Even the plural Womens doesn’t work. Yet another is “COA” which stands for “Course of Action.” In pluralizing this phrase, it would appropriately be written as “Courses of Action” but the RAS Syndrome acronym is written as “COAs” which would translate to”Course of Actions.”

By the way, do you use a PC computer (personal computer computer)? Does your computer have an LCD display (liquid crystal display display)? Can’t tell? Maybe you should check the UPC code (universal product code code) to be sure .

Oh, you read comics. Do you prefer Marvel or DC comics (Detective Comics comics)?

When I was very young the OPEC countries (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries countries) came to the table for the SALT talks (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks talks). It was a big deal to the NATO organization (North Atlantic Treaty Organization organization) and, really, all the other UN nations (United Nations nations) besides.

You seem pretty sharp. I’m curious. When you were in school, did you take the SAT test (Scholastic Achievement Test test)?

I think you can see how this is officially getting to be a problem. So, here is the writing tip for today.

In the narrative text, work it out either by spelling out the acronym or by cleverly avoiding the redundancy.



What is your estimated ETA?


What is your ETA?

What is your estimated time of arrival?

Here’s list of some RAP phrases. Some you’ll recognize and others you may not. Some are more egregious than others.

  • %APR – percentage Annual Percentage Rate
  • A.M. in the morning – (as in 7 A.M. in the morning) Ante Meridiem in the morning (lit. before noon in the morning)
  • ABM missile – Antiballistic Missile missile
  • ABS system – Antilock Braking System system
  • AC current – Alternating Current current
  • ACT test – American College Test test
  • ADD disorder – Attention Deficit Disorder disorder
  • ADHD disorder – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder disorder
  • ADSL line – – Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line line
  • AFC conference – American Football Conference conference
  • AFL football– American Football League football
  • AFL football– Australian Football League football
  • AIDS syndrome – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome syndrome
  • ALC community – Assisted Living Community community
  • AM modulation – Amplitude Modulation modulation
  • APL programing language – A Programming Language programming language
  • ARM mortgage – Adjustable Rate Mortgage mortgage
  • ATC control – Air Traffic Control control
  • ATM machine – Automated Teller Machine machine
  • BASIC code – Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code code
  • BBS system – Bulletin Board System system
  • BBW woman – Big Beautiful Woman woman
  • BBWs- Big Beautiful Womans (instead of Big Beautiful Women)
  • BMI index – Body Mass Index index
  • CAD design – Computer-Aided Design design
  • CD disc – Compact Disc disc
  • CGA adapter – Color Graphics Adapter adapter
  • CIA agency – Central Intelligence Agency agency
  • CMOS style guide – Chicago Manual of Style style guide
  • CNN news network – Cable News Network news network
  • COAs – Course of Actions (instead of Courses of Action)
  • COBOL language – Common Business-Oriented Language language
  • CPI index – Consumer Price Index index
  • CPS services – Child Protective Services services
  • CPU unit – Central Processing Unit unit
  • CS/DS/ES/SS segment – Code/Data/Extra/Stack Segment segment
  • CSH hospital (pronounced “cash”) – Combat Support Hospital hospital
  • DAT tape – Digital Audio Tape tape
  • DC Comics – Detective Comics Comics
  • DC current – Direct Current current
  • DODGE died – (frequent expression, like “My DODGE died.”) Died On Day Guarantee Expired died
  • DHCP protocol – Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol protocol
  • DIET Today- Do I Eat Today? Today?
  • DM message – Direct Message message
  • DMZ zone – Demilitarized Zone zone
  • DOA on arrival – (“The victim was DOA on arrival.”) Dead On Arrival on arrival
  • DOS operating system – Disk Operating System operating system
  • DVD disc – Digital Versatile Disc disc
  • EBCDIC code – Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code code
  • EGA adapter – Enhanced Graphics Adapter adapter
  • EPL league – English Premier League league
  • ESPN sports network – Entertainment and Sports Programming Network sports network
  • estimated ETA – estimated Estimated Time of Arrival
  • FAQ questions – Frequently Asked Questions questions
  • FBI investigation – Federal Bureau of Investigation investigation
  • FM modulation – Frequency Modulation modulation
  • FTP protocol – File Transfer Protocol protocol
  • GEICO insurance company – The Government Employees Insurance Company insurance company
  • GIF format – Graphic Interchange Format format
  • GMT time – Greenwich Mean Time time
  • gone MIA – gone Missing In Action
  • GOP party – Grand Old Party party
  • GRE exam – Graduate Record Examination examination
  • HIPAA act – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act act
  • HIV virus – Human Immunodeficiency Virus virus
  • HTML language – Hyper Text Markup Language language
  • IBAN number – International Bank Account Number number
  • IBM machines – International Business Machines machines
  • intelligence IQ – intelligence Intelligence Quotient
  • meet in IRL – meet in In Real Life
  • IP pointer – Instruction Pointer pointer
  • IRA account – Individual Retirement Account account
  • IRC chat – Internet Relay Chat chat
  • ISBN number – International Standard Book Number number
  • ISDN network – Integrated Services Digital Network network
  • JEEP problem – (frequent expression, like “I encountered a common JEEP problem.”) Just Expect Every Problem problem
  • KFC chicken – Kentucky Fried Chicken chicken
  • LAN network – Local Area Network network
  • LASER light – Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation light
  • LCD display – Liquid Crystal Display display
  • LDR relationship – Long Distance Relationship relationship
  • LED diode – Light Emitting Diode diode
  • LEM module – Lunar Excursion Module module
  • LPG gas – Liquid Propane Gas gas
  • MASH hospital – Mobile Army Surgical Hospital hospital
  • MIDI interface – Musical Instrument Digital Interface interface
  • MLB baseball – Major League Baseball baseball
  • MLL lacrosse – Major League Lacrosse lacrosse.
  • MLS soccer – Major League Soccer soccer
  • Nabisco company – National Biscuit Company company
  • NAFTA free trade agreement – North American Free Trade Agreement free trade agreement
  • NASA space administration – National Aeronautics and Space Administration space administration
  • NATO organization – North Atlantic Treaty Organization organization
  • NBA basketball – National Basketball Association basketball
  • NFC conference – National Football Conference conference
  • NFL football – National Football League football
  • NHL hockey – National Hockey League hockey
  • NPR radio – National Public Radio radio
  • NTP protocol – Network Time Protocol protocol
  • OPEC countries – Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries countries
  • OSHA administration – Occupational Safety and Health Administration administration
  • PC Computer – Personal Computer computer
  • PDF format – Portable Document Format format
  • PERL language – Practical Extraction and Reporting Language language
  • PIF file – Program Information File file
  • PIN number – Personal Identification Number number
  • Please RSVP – please Répondez S’il Vous Plaît (literally: please reply please)
  • PM message – Private Message message
  • PNS syndrome – PIN Number Syndrome syndrome
  • POST test – Power On Self Test test
  • PPV pay per view – Pay Per View pay per view
  • RAM memory – Random Access Memory memory
  • RAP phrase – Redundant Acronym Phrase phrase
  • RAS syndrome – Redundant Acronym Syndrome syndrome
  • RBIs – Run Batted Ins (instead of Runs Batted In)
  • REAP program – Reserve Education Assistance Program program
  • RF frequency – Radio Frequency frequency
  • ROM memory – Read Only Memory memory
  • RPN notation – Reverse Polish Notation notation
  • SALT talks – Strategic Arms Limitation Talks talks
  • SAM missile – Surface-to-Air Missile missile
  • SARS Syndrome – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome syndrome
  • SAT test – Scholastic Assessment (Aptitude) Test test
  • SCHOOL life – Sucks Children’s Happiness Out Of Life life
  • SCSI interface – Small Computer System Interface interface
  • secure HTTPS – secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure
  • secure SSH – secure Secure Socket Shell
  • SMS message – short message service message
  • SMTP mail – Simple Mail Transfer Protocol mail
  • SPAM meat – Specially Processed American Meat meat
  • special SWAT tactics – special Special Weapons And Tactics tactics
  • SSN number – Social Security Number number
  • START talks – Strategic Arms Reduction Talks talks
  • TCP/IP protocol – Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol protocol
  • TOYOTA auto – Too Often Yankees Overprice This Auto auto
  • TWA airlines – Trans World Airlines airlines
  • UDP protocol – User Datagram Protocol protocol
  • UHF frequency – Ultra-High Frequency frequency
  • UL laboratories – Underwriters Laboratories laboratories
  • UN nations – United Nations nations
  • underwater SCUBA apparatus – underwater Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus apparatus
  • unidentified UFO – unidentified Unidentified Flying Object
  • UNIVAC computer – Universal Automatic Computer computer
  • UPC code – Universal Product Code code
  • UPI international – United Press International international
  • USGS survey – United States Geological Survey survey
  • VAT tax – Value Added Tax tax
  • VGA adapter – Variable Graphics Adapter adapter
  • VHF frequency – Very High Frequency frequency
  • VIN number – Vehicle Identification Number number
  • WWE wrestling – World Wrestling Entertainment wrestling
  • YOLO once – You Only Live Once once
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