Monday, February 25, 2013

Acronyms & Slang across Perfume Discussion Boards/Forums/Blogs: a Guide

There's nothing more incomprehensible ~and at the same time deeply satisfying if you're part of the club~ than reading all those odd vocabulary and syntax contraptions that perfume aficionados use when discussing their favorite pastime online, fragrance that is.

Here's a compilation, a short guide into the most important fragrance terminology on perfume forums and blogs, with the odd yours truly coined acronym or two for kicks (see if you can pick those up among the list!). Please be very aware that there might -just might- be different acros for different things when discussing things through other focus boards, such as cosmetics boards.
Also note that often long-winded perfume names take the form of an acro for ease, ex. SDV is Spiritueuse Double Vanille by Guerlain, CDR is Cuir de Russie (a type of leather fragrance exemplified -and usually connoted- by Chanel's homonymous fragrance), MKK is Muscs Koublai Khan (Lutens), APOAL is A portrait of a Lady (Malle) and -you really see the point of this to save finger work!- ELPCAYY is Estee Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang, etc. (now guess: what is ELPCTG?)
AdP: Aqua di Parma. Popular niche fragrance line.

BN(IB): Swap (see lemma) specification, means brand new in box.

BPAL: Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs. What Edgar Allan Poe would envision for a fragrance line. Cult indie perfumes with gothic and mystical names and a very popular forum dedicated to discussing them.

Code: Discount "codes" issued by fragrance distributors or decanting sites with a time sensitive slot. Usually passed around on perfume boards as a PSA (public service announcement).

CBD: Cherry Blossom Diva. Etailer of high end dupes.

CDG: Comme des Garcons. Famous fashion brand headed by Rei Kawakubo, which also issues cult fragrances.

CBIHP: Christopher Brosius I Hate Perfume. Cult fragrance niche brand with dedicated followers.

CSP: Comptoir Sud Pacifique. Popular niche fragrance line with "tropical" scents inspired by the islands.

Decant: Home made perfume "sample" (usually larger than the commercial samples of 1 or 2ml), hand-poured by one's own perfume bottle into a plain vial in plastic or glass for the purposes of the buyer/swapper (see lemma) testing said fragrance on their skin at home in leisure. Sometimes, when a perfume is not FBW (see lemma) decants might be enough to tidy one over for life; one might not need more quantity of something as potent as Fracas or as special & occasion-only as Amouage Hommage; this definition of course depends solely on the wearer (what is one's "potent" is another's "regular 3 spritzes, thank you very much")

DS: Drugstore. A fragrance that can be found at the drugstore for little $ and is considered low end. Not necessarily denoting respective quality, true fragrance lovers offer love select drugstore fragrances.

DSH: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Indie, artisanal line of fragrances.

ELdO: Etat Libre d'Orange. Cult fragrance niche brand with dedicated followers.

FBW: Full Bottle Worthy. A tested and approved scent that you feel you can upgrade to a whole bottle of. Considering that most perfume collectors have numerous bottles in their wardrobe closets (see lemma) , a few in the hundreds at that, which would take a lifetime to finish, a full bottle of anything is a serious commitment and thus high recommendation.

FM: Frederic Malle. Cult and popular fragrance niche brand.

GWP: Gift with Purchase. Retail terminology for extras (samples, miniatures of regular product) included in your bag when buying something. Useful acro for swapping (see lemma) specifications.

HdP: Histoires de Parfums. Cult and popular fragrance niche brand.

HE: High end. Belonging to an upscale brand. Opposite is low-end or DS (see lemma).

HG: Holy Grail. That single, perfect, elusive perfume that perfectly encapsulates who you are, what you want out of life and how you want to be perceived. It sweeps floors and earns you serious bucks and love conquests as well. Hyperbole aside and suffice to say, a very tall order. Lifelong quest for many.

HTG: variation of HTF.

HTF: Hard to find. It entails either jumping through hoops, traveling to Vladivostock or raiding your great--great- grandmother's attic. Bottom line, rare and precious perfume.

IMHO: In my humble opinion. Prelude to polite dissent.

JHAG: Juliette Has a Gun. Cult and popular fragrance niche brand.

KM: Keiko Mecheri. Cult and popular fragrance niche brand.

LAP: L'Artisan Parfumeur. Cult and popular fragrance niche brand.

Lemming: An irresistible urge to test/buy/follow a particularly lauded scent (or beauty product in general). The call of the herd, as in the cute Northern rodents that all jump off the cliff in hordes (and which have given mothers around the world the irresistible argument against any teenager claiming "but all my friends are doing X thing!")
Originated on the MakeupAlley boards. Used as a noun ("My latest lemming is Alien Essence Absolue/What is your lemming for spring?") as well as a verb usually in the present/past continuous tense ("I was lemming L'Heure de Nuit by Guerlain, but when I calculated the price I decided I'm better off with regular L'Heure Bleue").

MdO: Mona di Orio. Cult fragrance niche brand with dedicated followers.

MFK: Maison Francis Kurkdjian. Cult fragrance niche brand with dedicated followers.

MH: Miller Harris. Cult fragrance niche brand with dedicated followers.

Mitsy: Affectionate (or throwing the towel) term for Guerlain Mitsouko classic fragrance.

MPG: Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier. Cult fragrance niche brand with dedicated followers.

n/m: nothing more. end of message. especially pertinent to the odd to navigate Makeupally board. Usually at the end of a line, it means there's no need to click to read inside the thread. Opposite is RO or r/o.

OJ: Ormonde Jayne. Cult fragrance niche brand with dedicated followers.

Pending: a swappable (see lemma) item listed on swap list, which has been promised to a swap partner but the negotiation hasn't finalised. It means it's off limits for other swappers till further notice.

PG: Parfumerie General. Cult fragrance niche brand with dedicated followers.

PdE: Parfum d'Empire. Cult fragrance niche brand with dedicated followers.

PdN: Patricia de Nicolai. Cult fragrance niche brand with dedicated followers.

POTL = People of the Labyrinths which usually means their perfume Luctor et Emergo (LeE)

RAOK: Random Act of Kindness. Once one has your address from a previous swap (see lemma), they may decide to send you a little something in the mail that they think you might enjoy or they have seen you have been "lemming" (see lemma). Usually samples, but it can be whole bottles too!

RAOG: Random Act of God. Post office strike, cyclone hitting your city or your bottle "turning" and spoiling, rendering it unswappable. Hey, it happens.

RIS: Received in swap (see lemma). Item we can't guarantee the provenance of because we didn't buy it ourselves. Useful when accessing the product or when negotiating further swapping.

RO(P) or r/o or r/o/p: Read on (please). On Makeupalley it means there's more info inside the thread, so you need to click the line to make more text appear. Opposite is n/m.

S01E03: Example of varied numerical indications (season and edition) of the Chandler Burr headed "blind sampling" project for Open Sky.

S/A: Sales assistant. Often the object of ridicule and critique on perfume boards due to their pathetic ignorance on their subject compared to die hard perfume aficionados.

Skanky: Stinky in a good way, perhaps a bit wildcat and promiscuous or interesting in an eyebrow raising way that invites discussion. Originated on the Perfume Posse blog. Used by perfume aficionados as a positive connotation ("Amaranthine is skanky goodness, it's sex in a bottle") while other people outside the aficion might view thus described scent as derisive and pushing the envelope ("Man, that's one skanky stink!")

SL: Serge Lutens. Cult and popular fragrance niche brand.

SOTD: scent of the day, that particular's day perfume choice. Perfume enthusiasts like to share this tidbit of info.

STC: Surrender to Chance. Online decanting emporium.

SSS: Sonoma Scent Studio. Indie, artisanal line of fragrances headed by Laurie Erickson.

Swap: Exchange of perfume bottles/decant (see lemma)/samples between corresponding partners on a forum. The two partners agree on specifics (quantity, scents, concentration, etc), exchange addresses and prepare packages with stuff for the other to receive. When both get their end as it should be, the swap is considered successful. Rare is the case of "swaplifting"(see lemma).
The whole raison d'ĂȘtre for a swap is to diffuse the cost of an "unsniffed buy" (see lemma) and therefore on the one hand getting rid of anything you do not fancy in the one woman's poison is another woman's meat mentality and on the other hand securing a wide variety of scents to try which would be unavailable, hard to find, too much money to try else. Shipping regulations have made this swapping sport rather difficult lately, but there are some ways around it.

Swaplifter: Unscrupulous person who after they have agreed on a swap and secured reception of what was promised to them, disappear and never mail their own end of the deal. Rare but potentially possible. This is why trust in old-timers, instincts and feedback in the way of "tokens" (on MakeupAlley and Basenotes) as well as word of mouth (on Swaptalk boards) serves into avoid potential pitfalls. Known swaplifters are summarily ostracized. Swaptalk is the only specifically created board for swap problems.

TDC: The Different Company. Cult fragrance niche brand with dedicated followers.

TDF: To die for. Simple: means absolutely gorgeous.

TF: Tom Ford. The well-known designer has fragrances in his line. If it's TFPB, it means Tom Ford Private Blend.

TM: Thierry Mugler. The famous designer issues cult fragrances, made and distributed by the Clarins Group.

TPC: The Perfume Court. Online decanting emporium.

TPP: The Posh Peasant. Online decanting emporium.

TSV: Today's Special Value.

TY: Thank you.

Unsniffed (purchase): When something is bought unsniffed, i.e. without having being thoroughly tested before by the buyer, usually online, it potentially denotes three things: 1) The perfume in question was nowhere to be tested (no testers, no samples, no access to store). 2) It was a vintage specimen which sounded too good to be bypassed, while #1 applied all the same. 3) It was a great bargain thanks to a discount, store coupon, Ebay opportunity etc.

YMMV: Your mileage may vary. Polite way to say "you might hate this".

YKIAGAM: Your kink is as good as mine. De gustibus et know the score.

YW: you're welcome.

For any "real" fragrance terminology as used by the industry please consult the Perfume Terms section with appropriate links on the right hand column of the site. 

Do you have other terms and acronyms to add to these? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Excellent job, E! The only one I would add is HTF, hard to find, esp used for vintage, discontinued and rare scents.

  2. R,

    thank you; indeed I have just added it. Thanks again!!

  3. Not quite an acronym, but on basenote we have pass-the-sample and blind sniffs. Pts: One person prepares a set of samples on a theme, then pass them on to a sniffer, who writes comments on them and then pass them on to another person, and so on. Blind sniff: game in which a person sends out unmarked samples to a few people, and they have to guess what it is (discussing it on the forum).

    Many frag names end up being made into acronyms. Further common examples include MKK, Poal, APLS, Laddm (as in Muscs Koublai Khan, Portrait of a lady, absolue pour le soir, and air du desert marocain).


  4. M,

    Pass to Sniffer and Blind Sniff sound like perfect slang for our purposes. Thanks for contributing them! (people read Cacio's full explanation above, it sounds like lotsa fun to participate in!)

  5. Eleni22:08

    Thank you - although I knew/worked out most of those (intensive perfume blogs and boards reading paid off!)I never understood what "lemming" meant :)

  6. Thanks for this. I've bookmarked it for when I run into an acronym I can't figure out.

  7. JacquesD04:39

    I'm not a particular fan of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, but seem to run into the acronym BPAL on a fairly regular basis.

  8. Perfume piggy? (as in lacking method and restrainment)
    At last at last! Thank you!

  9. Nicky10:04

    Love the list! I would add HdP (Histoires des Parfums) and CSP (Comptoir Sud Pacifique). I am sure there's so many more other people can chime in with!

  10. Nicky10:06

    oops! I see CSP is already listed ... really should use my glasses !

  11. Anonymous13:27

    Thanks for that extensive list!
    Let me give it a try...

    Every winter I check my beautifully aged DS Told Oldham bottle for an unfortunate RAOG that might have turned it to vinegar. Of course, it could also be a family member thinking it was a RAOK on their part! Ah, love is strange.

  12. Oh thank you.

    Though I never use contractions myself, they are everywhere and your most helpful note will help this Dandy find his way round much more manageably in the future.

    Yours ever, and with thanks,
    The Perfumed Dandy

  13. Merlln09:23

    Never encoutered - but love - the YKIAGAM. Far better than the tired latin phrase!

    I'm not sure the HG needs to fulfill as many criteria as that. It may be more of a personal decision: like if one has been searching a long time for a perfume that has a certain effect (x) and one happens to find it; then that may be a HG.

    ex. For years I have been searching for a perfume that has a truly soothing effect on me. I have many vanilla/orientals, but none are quite perfect. Chergui (it turns out) is my HG. (The fact that most people dislike it on me is disappointing - but does not reduce its status!)

  14. Eleni,

    you're most welcome!
    Lemming is a classic and so very descriptive, isn't it? We're like those rodents, one after the other in that crazy call of the herd when something becomes the latest "want!"

  15. Karen,

    thanks for bookmarking! (and for saying so) Hopefully it will be useful.

  16. Jacques,

    thanks, that is indeed a common acro, I will be adding it.

  17. Andrea,

    or even for the special budget reserved for perfume buys! :-O

    Thanks for your comment!

  18. Nicky,

    thank you. I will be adding HdP. CSP is already there.
    Glad you enjoyed!

  19. N,

    oh, you saw it. Haha! It happens to me too sometimes (not for lack of glasses, for lack of focusing, so I have no excuse)

  20. Anon,

    perfect usage!! 5 stars for you! :-)

  21. You're most welcome, oh polite Dandy!

  22. Merlin,

    yup, you haven't come across it, because I coined it myself ;-)

    Hmm, interesting point on the HG. I guess I was going for the hyperbolic humorous, but you do make a case for it not being that far fetched. Hmmm indeed!

  23. Prince Barry19:11

    The one that annoys me considerably on Basenotes, is their acronym for L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme and it's Extreme version -LIDG/LIDGE. I don't think they realise that the PH is missing. Makes a joke of the whole idea of an acronym.

  24. B,

    ha, I would never have guessed had you not explained! It's something I hadn't thought about either (is L'intant pour Homme that popular?? I wish it were!!)
    Very interesting to see how people operate sometimes.

  25. Prince Barry21:26

    Apparently so on Basenotes. Then again, there is a long running thread comparing Aventus batch numbers.....sad :)


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