by Kieran Healy on July 17, 2005

While I’m here in Australia (which is not for much longer), my address can be written out almost entirely in acronyms:

Kieran Healy
“SPT”:, “RSSS”:, “ANU”:,
“ACT”: 0200, Australia.

All of these acronyms are actively in use, so a letter addressed this way would be properly delivered. Some kind of record, shurely?



Joshua W. Burton 07.17.05 at 11:36 pm

The famous joke in this genre involves a letter addressed


which is of course successfully delivered to John Underwood, Andover, Massachusetts.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was considerably longer, but he wrote it on the _back_ of the envelope and it still got delivered. There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after.


MollyMooly 07.18.05 at 12:16 am

prior to 9/11 you could write to:


Craig 07.18.05 at 1:21 am

For some time, you could write to students at William and Mary by writing just their zip code on an envelope (the zip code being the five digits for the student mail room and the four of the student’s mailbox).

Nine characters, it seems to me, is pretty impressive addressing parsimony.


Chris 07.18.05 at 1:25 am

While I was at college in Cambridge, a postcard was delivered to:

XY (the initials of the recipient, which I have forgotten!)


Michael H. 07.18.05 at 6:30 am

I was told by by someone who once worked for USPS that all you need to put on an envelope for delivery is the 9 digit zip plus the last 2 digits of you home address plus apt number (if applicable). So a letter addressed to 22206999999 will go to some home in Arlington VA.

The USPS doesn’t advertise this fact because if you happen to get one digit wrong, there will be no hope of getting the letter to the right address.


Harry 07.18.05 at 7:11 am

I was once delivered a letter addressed to

Rose Hill

which since I didn’t even live in Rose Hill made me feel extremely famous.


Peter 07.18.05 at 8:49 am

An English friend of mine (let’s call him “John Smith”) working in Lesotho once received a letter sent from England addressed to:

“John Smith

It was delivered because of one of his former students happened to be working at the time in the dead-letter office of Lesotho Postal service, and knew where he currently was living.


jacob 07.18.05 at 9:35 am

Re #3: In theory, you could still do that for Yale undergraduates, where addressing something to 06520-4288 would send mail to Box 204288 Yale Station. I don’t know anyone who tried that though; Yale students are more apt to try to adress mail the old fashioned way (4288 Yale Station) than some new-fangled way with zip codes.

There’s also a story about a letter addressed to Mr. Hot Dog, Washington, which was correctly delivered to Felix Frankfurter.


jlw 07.18.05 at 10:22 am

Back in the day, I informed Glenn Seaborg that his entire address was composed entirely of elements:

Sg (seaborgium)
Lr (lawrencium)
Bk (berkelium)
Cf (californium)
Am (americium)

I never tried mailing anything to that address, but Seaborg was tickled to find out about it.


Elliot Essman 07.18.05 at 10:50 am

You can get into some trouble with acronyms. I am a food writer. I recently offended someone by saying I wanted to take a course at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). This august institute actually has an FBI (Food and Beverage Institute). But there is more confusion. My organization, the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) is often mistaken for the other IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police). One is dot com, the other dot org.


DGF 07.18.05 at 2:56 pm

If you don’t pronounce the letters as a word, it’s an initialism, not an acronym.


snuh 07.18.05 at 6:53 pm



engels 07.18.05 at 10:27 pm

Another CT thread descends into acronymy…


ogmb 07.18.05 at 11:15 pm


ACT 0200, OZ


paul lawson 07.19.05 at 2:35 am

Shurely (or more correctly, “Shurely, Ed.”) is courtesy of Lunchtime O’Booze and Lord Gnome of ‘Private Eye’, as I recall.

Shurely may have been coined by a number of people at the ‘Eye’. Rushton? Ingrams? Wells?

The word may be pronounced in either the English, or Irish, manner– depending on whom you were drinking with at the ‘Nag’s Head’, or elsewhere.

In dire circumstance, calling in and requesting the “[…] is unwell” slug, would shurely be countenanced by editors, themselves, by now, ‘unwell’.

Jeffrey Bernard was deft at this.

Lord Gnome was the successor to Rothermere–the Lord Copper of ‘Scoop’.

The accent is, of course, on the shlurred sibilant. Shurely.


Edd 07.19.05 at 2:14 pm

Shome mishtake, shurely?

Comments on this entry are closed.