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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

Your Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Deciphering the 123 Most Common Business Acronyms

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Ever feel like your co-workers—or, worse, your boss—are speaking to you in a different language? No, I’m not talking about your team suddenly deciding to conduct a meeting entirely in French. I’m talking about what often seems to be the language of the business world: acronyms.

While some of us have the guts to ask for clarification when we have no idea what’s being said, others of us cringe at the thought of asking potentially “stupid” questions. Well, to everyone in the latter group: Today’s your lucky day. We’ve rounded up abbreviations for the most commonly used terms that you’re likely to run into at work (or more likely, in an email).

Better yet, they’re categorized by department, so you can prep before a meeting with your finance, technical, or marketing teams. (And because we’re pretty sure that, regardless of your role, you don’t want to be the only one who nods with a confused smile when there’s a RFD because the CTR for your website decreased and a QA test is required by EOD.)


  1. BID: Break it down

  2. COB: Close of business

  3. EOD: End of day

  4. EOM: End of message OR end of month

  5. EOT: End of thread

  6. EOW: End of week

  7. ETA: Estimated time of arrival

  8. FTE: Full-time employee

  9. FWIW: For what it’s worth

  10. IAM: In a meeting

  11. IMO: In my opinion

  12. KISS: Keep it simple stupid

  13. LET: Leaving early today

  14. LMK: Let me know

  15. MoM: Month over month

  16. MTD: Month to date

  17. NIM: No internal message

  18. OOO: Out of office

  19. OT: Off topic

  20. OTP: On the phone

  21. PA: Performance appraisal

  22. POC: Point of contact

  23. PTE: Part-time employee

  24. PTO: Paid time off

  25. NRN: No reply necessary

  26. NSFW: Not safe for work

  27. NWR: Not work related

  28. Re: Referring to

  29. RFD: Request for discussion

  30. SMART: Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound

  31. SME: Subject matter expert

  32. TED: Tell me, explain to me, describe to me

  33. TL;DR: Too long, didn’t read

  34. TLTR: Too long to read

  35. TOS: Terms of service

  36. TYT: Take your time

  37. WFH: Work from home

  38. WIIFM: What’s in it for me

  39. WOM: Word of mouth

  40. YTD: Year to date


  1. ACCT: Account

  2. AP: Accounts payable

  3. AR: Accounts receivable

  4. BS: Balance sheet

  5. CPU: Cost per unit

  6. CR: Credit

  7. DR: Debit

  8. EPS: Earnings per share

  9. FIFO: First in, first out

  10. IPO: Initial public offering

  11. LIFO: Last in, first out

  12. LWOP: Leave without pay

  13. NAV: Net assets value

  14. P-card: Purchase card

  15. ROA: Return on assets

  16. ROE: Return on equity

  17. ROI: Return on investment

  18. P/E: Price to earnings

  19. P&L: Profit and loss


  1. API: Application program interface

  2. CPU: Central processing unit

  3. CSS: Cascading style sheet

  4. FTP: File transport protocol

  5. HTML: HyperText markup language

  6. HTTP: HyperText transfer protocol

  7. HTTPS: HyperText transfer protocol secure

  8. IM: Instant messaging

  9. IP: Internet protocol

  10. ISP: Internet service provider

  11. OS: Operating system

  12. QA: Quality assurance

  13. UI: User interface

  14. URL: Universal resource locator

  15. UX: User experience

  16. VPN: Virtual private network

  17. RAM: Random-access memory

  18. ROR: Ruby on Rails

  19. RSS: Rich site summary OR really simple syndication

  20. WYSIWYG: What you see is what you get

Marketing and Sales

  1. AIDA: Attention, interest, desire, action

  2. B2B: Business to business

  3. B2C: Business to consumer

  4. BR: Bounce rate

  5. CMS: Content management system

  6. CPC: Cost per click

  7. CTA: Call to action

  8. CTR: Click through rate

  9. CR: Conversion rate

  10. CRM: Customer relationship management

  11. DM: Direct message or direct mail

  12. ESP: Email service provider

  13. GA: Google Analytics

  14. KPI: Key performance indicator

  15. PPC: Pay per click

  16. PV: Page view

  17. RFP: Request for proposal

  18. ROS: Run of site

  19. RT: Retweet

  20. SaaS: Software as a service

  21. SEO: Search engine optimization

  22. SM: Social media

  23. SMB: Small to medium business

  24. SWOT: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats

  25. UV: Unique visitor

Job and Department Titles

  1. BD: Business development

  2. CAO: Chief analytics officer

  3. CDO: Chief data officer

  4. CEO: Chief executive officer

  5. CFO: Chief financial officer

  6. CIO: Chief information officer

  7. CMO: Chief marketing officer

  8. COO: Chief operating officer

  9. CPA: Certified public accountant

  10. CSO: Chief security officer

  11. CSR: Corporate social responsibility

  12. CTO: Chief technology officer

  13. CFP: Certified financial planner

  14. DOE: Depending on experience

  15. GC: General counsel

  16. HR: Human resources

  17. PM: Project manager

  18. PR: Public relations

  19. R&D: Research and development

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