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AAC (acronyms are confusing)

We use acronyms all the time, and many times we use them in circumstances where some people have no idea what we’re talking about. For example, my coworkers may know what NIST or iBeta is, but if I’m talking to someone who isn’t in a scientific industry, they will be completely confused by what I am saying.

At the same time, I am completely confused if someone uses an acronym associated with a premium satellite channel show that I have never watched. (Don’t drop a Game of Thrones acronym on me. The only thing I know about Game of Thrones is that it has thrones in it.)

Know Your…What?

Here’s another example.

I was working with someone who was writing about the phrase “Know Your Seller.” This is just another variant of some other “Know Your” phrases, such as “Know Your Customer” and “Know Your Business.” And all of these phrases have associated acronyms:

  • Know Your Business has the acronym KYB.
  • Know Your Customer has the acronym KYC.
  • Know Your Seller has the acronym KYS.

Anyway, my coworker observed that if someone saw the acronym KYS, they would have no idea what it meant. Maybe it refers to “kiss,” or maybe it refers to several other possibilities that I have chosen not to list here. (This is a family blog.)

But what if a single acronym has multiple meanings? Maybe KYB means Know Your Business, Know Your Brand, Know Your Budget, or Know Your Beanie Baby. Well, I guess the last one would be KYBB, not KYB.

But it gets worse. Neil M. Davis, PharmD, MS, FASHP’s article “Medical Abbreviations That Have Contradictory or Ambiguous Meanings” noted that if you use the letter “B” as part of a medical acronym, that “B” could stand for brain, or breast, or bladder. If you misinterpret the “B” in an acronym, your patient could get into big trouble.

Generated at

The image above was generated at the website. Which brings me to my next topic.

Know Your…That, and That… (Generating Acronyms via Artificial Intelligence)

You can go online and research acronyms.

Or you can use generative AI (in which the AI stands for Artificial Intelligence) to, um, generate acronyms for you.

To prove this, I sent the following prompt to Google Bard.

Create 200 three-word phrases in which the first two words in the phrase are “Know Your,” and arrange all 200 phrases in alphabetical order.

I specified the “alphabetical order” part because I have CDO. (Which is when you take the acronym for “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” and arrange the letters in alphabetical order.)

So here’s the list that Google Bard gave me. Imagine what could have happened if I had asked for 400 phrases…or 900 phrases.

  • Know Your Ability
  • Know Your Agenda
  • Know Your Attitude
  • Know Your Audience
  • Know Your Background
  • Know Your Beliefs
  • Know Your Best Practices
  • Know Your Bottom Line
  • Know Your Brand
  • Know Your Budget
  • Know Your Business
  • Know Your Boundaries
  • Know Your Brain
  • Know Your Customers
  • Know Your Data
  • Know Your Decisions
  • Know Your Demographics
  • Know Your Dependencies
  • Know Your Discipline
  • Know Your Disposition
  • Know Your Competitors
  • Know Your Employees
  • Know Your Environment
  • Know Your Ethics
  • Know Your Expectations
  • Know Your Expertise
  • Know Your Goals
  • Know Your History
  • Know Your Industry
  • Know Your Influence
  • Know Your Interests
  • Know Your Investments
  • Know Your Limits
  • Know Your Location
  • Know Your Market
  • Know Your Mindset
  • Know Your Needs
  • Know Your Objectives
  • Know Your Opportunities
  • Know Your Pain Points
  • Know Your Partners
  • Know Your People
  • Know Your Perspective
  • Know Your Philosophy
  • Know Your Processes
  • Know Your Products
  • Know Your Prospects
  • Know Your Risks
  • Know Your Sales
  • Know Your Security
  • Know Your Skills
  • Know Your Solutions
  • Know Your Strengths
  • Know Your Successes
  • Know Your Talents
  • Know Your Team
  • Know Your Tools
  • Know Your Trade Secrets
  • Know Your Values
  • Know Your Vision
  • Know Your Weaknesses
  • Know Your X-Factors
  • Know Your Zeroes

So does this list give you ideas for the next “Know Your…” business you want to market? “Know Your Philosophy” sounds intriguing.


What does this mean?

  • When using acronyms, always make sure that your audience is familiar with them. (Better yet, always define acronyms at first occurrence.)
  • When inventing brand new acronyms, make sure that they can’t be easily confused for something else. I’m sure the first person who used “Know Your Seller” didn’t imagine that someone would approach them with puckered lips.
Generated at again, lightly edited.
  • Always check existing acronyms to make sure that you don’t need to change them due to recent events. This is something the previously-named Wisconsin Tourism Federation found out the hard way.

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