People use acronyms to save time writing, but sometimes these verbal shortcuts waste readers’ time by forcing them to look up their meaning.
A new study by social media education company How Sociable analyzed Google searches for common internet acronyms to discover the most bewildering ones. To do this critical work, they analyzed the number of searches for each standalone acronym combined with search terms such as “what does the acronym mean,” “acronym meaning,” and “what does the acronym stand for.”
The results: SMH caused the most-head scratching — or head shaking.
SMH, “shaking my head,” is commonly used in chats, texts, and other forums when someone is disappointed or frustrated with the conversation, a situation, or another person. The official definition by Merriam-Webster dictionary says that SMH “is used to impart a sense of bemused incredulity.”
The phrase is often accompanied or replaced with a palm-in-the-face emoji. Variations of SMH include “scratching my head” and the less kid-friendly SMDH (“shaking my damn head”).
The study found that SMH caused 802,858 searches per month on average, or 9.6 million searches a year.
Related: Don’t Say It: These Are the Most Annoying Corporate Buzzwords, According to a New Survey
The top 10 most confusing acronyms
Right behind SMH on the most confusing acronyms list was ‘TBH,’ with 306,085 searches per month across America. TBH stands for “to be honest” and is commonly used to express frankness or honesty.
The third most searched for acronym is POV, which is googled around 284,475 times per month in the US. Content creators have been using this term for years to describe the “point of view” of the camera. POV videos are shot from the first-person viewer’s perspective.
But on TikTok and other social media platforms, POV has been used by some creators to refer to any skit centering around a person in an uncomfortable or awkward situation. An example might be an unfortunate encounter at Urgent Care or the prom.
@caroline_easom #pov #fyp #doctorsoftiktok #comedy #parody #satire #comedian #skit #sketchcomedy #actor #doctor ♬ original sound – Caroline
Here is a look at the top 20:
Courtesy of How Sociable
“With new acronyms popping up all the time, it will be interesting to see which ones stand the test of time and which ones fall out of fashion,” said a spokesperson for How Sociable.