"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


I came across one of those phone texting glossaries the other day and was amused to see TTFN. The glossary explained it as “Ta ta for now”. Unlike WYSIWYG – “what you see is what you get” – TTFN needs no explaining to my generation or even the previous one.

The phrase and its abbreviation appeared in the World War II BBC radio show called "It's That Man Again", otherwise known as ITMA, that ran ten years from 1939 to 1949. Tommy Handley was the host of this weekly comedy show, featuring a stable of regular quirky characters and their catchphrases.

"TTFN," was part of a running joke that, following the practice of the military, abbreviations were vigorously substituted for full words -- the name of the show, ITMA, being a prime example of that.

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