In my copious spare time (!), I’m reading the late Willard Bascom‘s autobiography ‘The Crest Of The Wave‘.  He was one of the pioneering scientists in the field of oceanography, and had many interesting and amusing anecdotes from the early years of that discipline.

One of them involved a Royal Navy study group during World War II with the grandiloquent name ‘Operations Research Group for Anti-Submarine Measures’.  Inevitably, the acronym for the group became ORGASM.  Apparently its reports were awaited with eager anticipation by those who knew of the acronym, but not what it meant (officially, that is).

I have to wonder whether the naval officers concerned actually planned the name of the group in order to fit the acronym – putting the cart before the horse, so to speak.  Considering the sense of humor of some Naval officers I have known (*cough*Old NFO*cough*), I think that’s more than likely!



  1. In the AF, I was assigned to an organization where our name was changed way more often than needed. At one point we became the Data Systems Design Office, or "dizz-doe" as we pronounced it. Some up high honcho decided that it should be pronounced "does doo" instead, so we rolled our eyes and complied. Some months later, the re-name game was played again, but this time DSDO was left as is. Unfortunately (or hilariously depending on how you look at it), our parent unit was renamed the Software Information Systems Office, and a subordinate unit became the Logistics Systems Division. I loved calling them just to hear, "Sissy does do LSD. How can I help you?"

    That particular re-name didn't last very long.

  2. I was working at a defense contractor when we were bidding on the ROWPU program. A friend & I tortured the English language to come up with an alternative acronym; COWPIE. We even noted this had the basis for a new marketing slogan, "Put a COWPIE in your canteen!"

  3. I once worked with some scientists who used underwater habitats. They would spend one week underwater. They produced a scholarly report about defecating underwater titled "Scientists Housed In The Sea".(SHITS)

  4. Yes, the names (and associated acronyms) are given a LOT of thought ahead of time… 🙂 And the brass usually has conniption fits and made us change the name after they figured it out… 😀

  5. I am reading a history of naval charts which goes back to the 1400s. One oceanographer was under the command of a tyrant of a Royal Navy captain that was well know for court martialing personnel left and right. He was tasked on a day off to chart a channel in the Greek Islands. If you look at the chart closely you realize that the names of four hills on that chart, when read in reverse are a damning of that captain.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *