Why Do People and the Press Still Abbreviate Florida as FLA?

Abbreviating Florida as Fla. is like abbreviating New York as Nyk using the very same logic. How’s that for modern english?

When we send letters we use the standard two-letter abbreviation, which are really the standards as “state codes” go, so why is Florida the exception. Is the extra letter like an extra chromosome?

I remember FLA being used in travel promotions from way back in the day (see this lovely “Visit FLA” poster) that was a theme used by vacation sellers for some time, but even they stopped doing this some time ago.

In case you’re wondering what spurned me to blog about this today, I just read an article on CNN titled “Fla. Rep: Beyonce, Jay-Z broke law” and that just got me thinking.. So it’s not just idiots who are doing this, CNN is ok with it too?

So all of the village idiots, and lots of advertisers think it’s ok to represent Florida with a Fla.? Really?

News Agencies that still use Fla. as an abbreviation,… this got past the editor?

I thought it made sense to take a deep dive (thanks Lindsay@ROI) for that phrase… so where does this come from, what are the roots of Fla?

Apparently, there was a standard for state abbreviations that date back to the OLD DAYS, when the US government had it’s own standards, called GPO (Government Printing Office), and they used a loosely bound collection of three-letter abbrevations, when they felt it made sense (sign of the times?).

Wikipedia says “As early as October 1874, the United States Post Office recognized common abbreviations for states and territories. However, they only accepted these abbreviations because of their popularity, preferring that patrons spell names out in full to avoid confusion.[16]

Other-AcronymsThe traditional abbreviations for U.S. states and territories, widely used in mailing addresses prior to the introduction of two-letter U.S. postal abbreviations, are still commonly used for other purposes (such as legal citation), and are still recognized (though discouraged) by the Postal Service.[17]

Modern two-letter abbreviated codes for the states and territories originated when the Post Office introduced ZIP codes in 1963. The purpose was to make room for ZIP codes in the address, rather than to standardize state abbreviations per se.[16] (again, sign of the times!).

Since 1963, only one state abbreviation has changed. Originally Nebraska was “NB”; but, in November 1969, the Post Office changed it to “NE” to avoid confusion with New Brunswick in Canada.[16]

FLA is used in FLASH Media, but even that is becoming obsolete to HTML5

The two-letter postal abbreviation system is complicated by the fact that eight state names begin with M and to avoid duplication, some abbreviations are not intuitive.Prior to 1987, when the U.S. Secretary of Commerce approved the two-letter codes for use in government documents,[18] the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) suggested its own set of abbreviations, with some states left unabbreviated. Today, the GPO supports United States Postal Service standard.[19]

So the nutshell of this is that the government recognized back in 1874 that some people were confused, so they made some abbreviations different so more plain folk could understand. Yet in 1963 they decided to officially make the change to two-letter codes and get with a standard everyone can follow.

For 89 years they let some people use that old system because they were too stupid to get with the program, and since the standard changed in ’63 (a full 50 years later), it seems like some people haven’t gotten the memo!

So here it is people – Florida is abbreviated as FL and NOT Fla.

Some of the recent examples I’ve found in advertising, someone should let these people know that it’s not done like that anymore… that everyone knows that the correct way is just “FL” and nothing else.

I’m sure there are some people IN FLORIDA that still write out “Fla.” but that really exists for just two reasons:

1) Your grandmother who is originally from Brooklyn, now lives in Boca Raton.  She pronounces it “Flaaa rid-uh” and she writes it that way too.


2) The crusty old redneck who lives in the backwaters of the gulf, who hasn’t figured out that the rest of the country took a step forward.

Either way, neither of these two types of people need this kind of coddling, let’s stop using “Fla.” in avertising, in printed pieces, and in press or news reporting. This is stupidity in motion, and we need to break the cycle of idiocracy today, not another 50 years, or another 89. We’re smart enough to get it.

Or…are we?

Ahh yes, now it’s making sense. I guess that when dumb people use it, it perpetuates the cycle. Who would do such a thing?

Note: The author lived in FL for 15 years with his wife and kids. He still gets annoyed when people write “Fla.” or “FLA” and think its ok.

Correct uses for the FLA Acronym / Abbreviations


By Louis Wing

Links in this blog post, for reference purposes:
[16] – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_abbreviations#cite_note-USPS_History-16
[17] – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_abbreviations#cite_note-17
[18] – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_abbreviations#cite_note-18
[19] – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_abbreviations#cite_note-19

About Louis Wing 68 Articles
I talk about this, that, and the other stuff. I have to admit I may ramble on and on... but I am usually driving to a point. Educated and street-smart, I like my beats downtempo. Read more about Louis Wing

6 Comments on Why Do People and the Press Still Abbreviate Florida as FLA?

  1. Who gives a shit how people want to abbreviate Florida? I use FLA for Florida all the time. Go fuck yourself, LOSER!! Go find something better to worry about instead of ranting about how people abbreviate Florida.

    • Dean

      Thanks for your comment Dean, obviously there is a mix of satire mixed in the things I write. I don’t take The use of FLA too seriously, though it is a peeve.

      That said – You seem to be really excited about it!? Apologies if I somehow offended you by talking down about people who still use FLA in written communications, really this was a swipe against media who is still publishes it; they should know better.

    • Yes, FU can mean Fuck You.

      I checked and on http://www.abbreviations.com/FU it says there are 45 other meanings for the FU abbreviation! Some of the best ones I found are:

      Family Unit
      Florida University
      File Upload
      Foul Up
      Forces Unknown [kinda cool]
      Functional Unit

      and…Here’s the best one I think

      Fart Underwater (submarine sound)

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