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Shoehorned First Letter
Seize the Yopportunity
"It must be American. Who else would think 'extra' starts with an X?"
Sometimes a character will need to come up with a word that starts with a certain letter, but wants or needs to say one that doesn't qualify. The solution: stick the necessary letter in front of the desired word and call it a day! Often done to make a word fit into an acronym
Compare Xtreme Kool Letterz
, Recursive Acronym
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- In the UK in the 1970s, the Green Cross ran a PSA campaign with Jon Pertwee (who had at that time left Doctor Who two years ago but was still obviously playing the same character in the ad) teaching children how to cross the road with the catchy acronym "SPLINK". Almost every single one of the letters is shoehorned, or linked to the most tenuous word in the sentence, which is one of the many reasons why the BBC officially identified it as so bizarre as to be one of the all-time-classics of the PSA genre.
S — First find a Safe place to cross, then stop
P — Stand on the Pavement near the kerb
L — Look all round for traffic and listen
I — If traffic is coming, let it pass
N — When there is No traffic near, walk straight across the road
K — Keep looking and listening for traffic while you cross
- Subverted in Code Geass, where FLEIJA stood for "Field Limitary Effective Implosion Armament". Yes, they didn't even bother to stick anything to the "J". The shameful thing is, the reason for the name is to keep within the Theme Naming of the series, and the accepted fan-made acronym of FREYA (standing for Fusion REaction Yield Armament) works just as well.
- In one of The Simpsons comics, Homer tells Bart about the "Three S's of fishing". The last one is ssssbait.
- Inverted in Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin's anti-girl club needs a snappy, memorable name. He and Hobbes eventually come up with "Get Rid Of Slimy GirlS", or G.R.O.S.S.
- In The Three Stooges short "Sing a Song of Six Pants", the stooges are trying to guess the name of the owner of a suit when they know his initials are TH. They come up with Teddy Hoosevelt and Thomas Hedison.
- In Dance Flick, after one character says there's no 'I' in 'team', the other character suggests some synonyms, none of which have 'I' either, until he gets to 'i-nsemble'. For his efforts, he is responded with a Lampshade Hanging that he mispronounced the word to make it sound like it had an 'I'.
- Edward Gorey's alphabetical poems would often use, for X, words that actually begin with an E, such as "excited."
- In The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Adrian has to come up with a sermon based around three alliterative bullet points starting with H, but can't think of a third one and keeps getting absurd unrelated suggestions.
- James Thurber has a story called "The State of Bontana" in which characters, challenged to think of a state beginning with B (there isn't one), guess "Bontana", "Butah", and "Bassachusetts", among others. The payoff is when the next challenge is to name a bird, and one of them says "Beagle!"
- In Lords and Ladies, Granny Weatherwax tells King Verence that the elves lacks something, begins with 'M', the ability to see things from another person's point of view. Verence tries to see things from Granny's point of view and realizes that the word she's looking for is 'empathy'.
- 1066 and All That gives the two sides in the English Civil War alliterative epithets, one of them forcing the alliteration: The Cavaliers were "Wrong but Wromantic," whereas the Roundheads were "Right but Repulsive."
- The Sweet Pickles series of children's books has a cast of 26 animal characters, one for each letter of the alphabet. The letters U and X must have been problematic, hence the presence of Unique Unicorn and X-rating Xerus.
- According to Sue Grafton, the 'N' volume of The Alphabet Mysteries was originally going to be named "N is for Knoxville".
Live Action TV
- On one toss between The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Jon Stewart made fun of Stephen Colbert for playing the letter "Z" on Sesame Street: All-Star Alphabet, leading to this exchange:
Yeah, you know what "z" stands for, Jon: zrevenge
Jon: See you in a minute, Stephen!
Stephen: I will have my zvengeance!
- During a game of "90 Second Alphabet" on Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Greg Proops was made to start his line with the letter X, and spat out, "X-actly no!" even holding up his arms in the shape of an X for emphasis.
- Challenging the rest of the family to guess the name of a big-band leader with the initials "EC", Archie Bunker said the answer was "Xavier Cugat". When Mike told him that "Xavier" begins with an "X", Archie insisted that "No human being begins their name with an 'X'!" and that Xavier was spelled "E-G-Z-A-V-E-R".
- One episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured the 'bots signing up to walk marathons for various long-winded charities. When Crow stated he was walking for WALKATHON, he had to explain to Mike that it was an acronym, not Walk-A-Thon itself.
Crow: It stands for "Walkers At Large Kinetically Altruistic Through Hygiene Or Nowledge".
Mike: ..."Knowledge" with an "N"?
Crow: Yeah, else it would be WALKATHOK, and that doesn't work.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had weapons from A to Z: from Axe to Z Other Axe.
- The musical Plain and Fancy brings on a little girl in the middle of "Plenty of Pennsylvania" to list something growing in Pennsylvania for every letter of the alphabet. She stumbles toward the end of the alphabet with "un-i-ons" and "X-plants," and for the final letter weakly suggests "zpinach" and "zauerkraut" before triumphantly emerging with "zucchini."
- A sketch in Pleasure at Her Majesty's has Alan Bennett dictating a telegram through the phone and having to explain the acronym NORWICH to the operator (NORWICH is an actual World War II acronymn used by servicemen in letters to their sweethearts):
Alan Bennett: [dictating a telegram into the telephone] I want to end it if I may, "NORWICH". [pause] "NORWICH", yes. Well, it's an idiomatic way of saying, "Knickers Off Ready When I Come Home". You see, it's the initial letters of each word. [pause] Yes, I know "knickers" is spelt with a "K". I was at Oxford, it was one of the first things they taught us.
- In Billy Vs SNAKEMAN, one of the 11 D's of Pizza Delivery is D-Speed.
- In one Second Sight level, two guards are playing "I Spy" and the letter is "E". The guesser tries "eeediot".
- Ultima IV has both a command and a spell for each letter of the keyboard, leading to some oddities like (z)tats and (k)limb.
- The "up" and "down" spells are respectively Y and Z, justified in universe by Y being the initial of the wizard who invented the up spell and Z being the initial of the unpronounceable Lord of the Underworld.
- A series-wide example, the Mortal Kombat series tends to change almost any word that starts with a hard C to a K.
- The KKnD series stands for "Krush, Kill 'n' Destroy". Apparently, CKnD doesn't sound as dynamic.
- Lampshaded in Impire by the representative of FAKE, the Federation of Abysmal and Kataclysmic Evil. FACE just didn't work as an acronym.
- Almost all software written for KDE has the name with "K", preferably as the first letter. If there's no synonym, "K" may replace "c" or "q". Failing that, it's shoehorned. Killbots, Karbon, Konqueror, KoolDock, Okular, Klear, KBattleship...
- A joke: Zorro saves a Dumb Blonde from an unspecified danger. Then he asks: "Do you know who saved you?" She answers in the negative. He points at the Z: "That's the first letter of my name!" She says: "Ohhh, now I get it! Thank you, Zuperman!" (This joke makes more sense in Latin American Spanish, since Z and S sound the same)
- Sometimes seen in posters, books, etc. of the alphabet where each letter is accompanied by a word that starts with that letter. If "x" isn't represented by "xylophone" or "X-ray", it'll be "ox" or "axe".
- The "three Rs" of Education: Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. At least 'writing' kinda has the excuse of sounding like it starts with an 'R', but 'arithmetic' has no such excuse.
- Something very common with crosswords is that people will change the letters in a word in order to make it fit.
- The Ku Klux Klan is an unfortunate example.
- Some evolutionary biologists (well, Dr Jack Cohen, anyway) refer to the Four Fs; significant developments that evolved independently multiple times, and that if the whole of evolution was restarted (or we found alien life) we would expect to evolve again. They are Fur, Flight, Fotosynthesis, and F...er, Fsexual Reproduction.
- Similarly, ethologists sometimes talk about the four Fs of basic animal behavior: Fighting, Fleeing, Feeding and F... ornication.