The FBI Guide to Internet Slang

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request in 2014, the FBI released their internal 83-page guide to internet slang (most of which are initialisms and acronyms). The quality of the scanned document is very poor, but it’s (just) readable. A few of my favorite phrases gleaned from skipping around the report:

BMUS – beam me up, Scotty
EMFBI – excuse me for butting in
JC – Jesus Christ/just curious/just chilling
MOS – mom over shoulder
PS – photoshop/play station/post script
SMG – sub-machine gun
TOTES FRESH – totally precious
YOYO – you’re on your own
WYLABOCTGWTR – would you like a bowl of cream to go with that remark?

For their annual publication that they send out to their company mailing list, Pentagram recently made a far more legible and well-designed version of the FBI’s guide featuring some of their own favorites.

sample pages from Pentagram's FBI Guide to Slang

sample pages from Pentagram's FBI Guide to Slang with the initialisms BTW, ITII, and LWY

The booklet challenges readers to identify 14 abbreviations of varying difficulty and absurdity, with answers at the back. The acronyms are set in two custom typefaces designed by Pentagram partner Matt Willey, based on the markings that appear on the agency’s uniforms, particularly in popular media. The two fonts are fittingly named Edgar Sans and Clyde Slab in honor of longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his deputy and alleged lover Clyde Tolson.

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