The Bitchery Glossary

Every now and again I receive email asking what one of the abbreviations on the site means, so I thought a Bitchery Glossary would be a good idea.

Some of these terms are used all over the place and certainly aren’t exclusive to this site. Some are abbreviations we use for categories or features here. But if you’ve ever wondered what the hell something means, hopefully this list will help.

GS vs STA: Good Shit vs Shit To Avoid – used for developing lists of books by type or characteristic, both of books folks loved and books folks didn’t like too much. Or, in some cases, hated with the passion of a thousand burning suns filled with hateration (or, as my computer tried to correct, “hate rations.”)

HaBO: Help a Bitch Out – you remember the plot, the character’s strange hair color, the fuchsia eyeshadow on the cover, the fact that the villain was gay, abused his horse and ate endangered species. Do you remember the title? Nope. But nearly every time, someone here knows exactly what book you’re talking about.

TSTL: Too Stupid to Live (often used to describe heroines who are really freaking dim, and run down alleys in a nightgown, and NOT because they’re about to shift into hungry, flesh-tearing wolves) **

HEA – Happily Ever After **

HNF HFN – Happy for Now **

DABWAHA – This is the reason I’m not allowed to name things. This is the annual March Madness™ Style tournament of romance novels co-hosted by Jane from Dear Author and me. DABWAHA stands for “Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hellagood Authors.”

DNF – “Did Not Finish” – a review of a book I could not or did not want to finish, and the reasons I didn’t want to complete it. A few people have argued with me that a “DNF” is not a review, but I think any reader’s reasons for not wanting to continue reading a book are valuable commentary about the book and what didn’t work for that reader (and what may work really well for another reader). So I include DNF reviews here.

SBTN: Sometimes you’ll see people refer to the site as “SBTN” which stands for “Smart Bitches Trashy Novels.” This is because when Candy and I started the site, I bought the URL and installed Expression Engine. She did the design. Her original design had a header that read “Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels” while the URL was…SmartBitchesTrashyBooks. Yeah. Oops.

Plot Moppet: a small child who has no purpose or development except to drive the plot forward. (Coined and defined by Red Headed Girl).

Potato Rage: The rage that overtakes the reader when a blatant and easily researchable anachronism pops up out of nowhere.  Like potatoes (a New World food) being served to a Viking. (Possibly coined and defined by Red Headed Girl in her review for Season in the Sun).

Mary Sue Character: see Wikipedia definition. A Mary Sue is the bestest most specialest sparkliest wonderfulest character in the world, who does no wrong, is adored by all, has no flaws, and gives you a somewhat twisted, uncomfortable feeling that the character exists as wish fulfillment for the author or reader because no person is that perfect. Ever. **

Purple Prose: see Wikipedia definition. Purple prose in romance is most commonly found in the sex scenes, where the writing may become incredibly florid, overwrought and laden with ridiculous euphemisms, such as “heaving stallion,” “thrusting soldier,” and Sarah’s favorite, “he burst like a ripe melon within her.” **

Mighty Wang: shorthand for the many illustrious powers of the male member in romances. From obfuscation (once deployed, unless mentioned in the cover copy as a story of social ruin, the humpy couple will likely not get caught) to healing (many a Mighty Wang has restored the heroine to orgasm or fertility, or possibly both), the Mighty Wang is a thing of wonder. It’s most recognizable power is that of a divining rod of destiny: to quote the Bosoms, “the Mighty Wang often offers the Key to True Love. Though he may not expect it, the Mighty Wang reveals that the heroine is his One and Only. He must have the orgasm to end all orgasms, a moment of jizztastic glory that will communicate to his brain from the depths of his man part that This Is the Woman For Him….” (pg 84.)

Magic Hoo-Hoo: AKA “Glittery Hoo-Hah,” “Magic Hoo-Hah” shorthand for the equally illustrious and many powers of the female sex organ, specifically the vagina. The Magic Hoo-Hoo tames the Mighty Wang, and becomes the magnetized true north for the hero’s trouser compass from the point of their first sexual coupling. The Magic Hoo-Hoo brings the hero to monogamous attachment, because after experiencing it, the hero will not be satisfied with anything or anyone else. **

SEP: Susan Elizabeth Phillips. **

NR: AKA “La Nora.” Nora Roberts. **

JAK: Jayne Ann Krentz. **

JC: Jennifer Crusie, or perhaps Jesus Christ. Your call, depending on context. **

** – these terms are certainly not exclusive to this site, and are common in discussions of romance in many online communities.

Any other abbreviations or terms you’ve always wanted to ask about? Terms you think are unique and might need explanation? Bring it on!


Random Musings

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  1. Anony Miss says:

    I think Plot Moppets deserves honorable mention. 🙂

  2. Joanne says:

    Don’t beat yourself up over that one (okay, if you like beating yourself have at it ‘cause, you know, whatever) but every time I see DABWAHA I laugh. I can’t think of one other acronym that makes me smile as much as that one.

    TSTL can designate male characters too… (commence beating)

  3. Anony Miss says:

    DBWAHA to me always looks like evil villain diabolical laughing, ala’ “BWAH HAH HAH!”

  4. SB Sarah says:

    @Anony Miss – that was the point! Heh. I’m insane levels of pleased that it makes you think that. AND HOW COULD I FORGET PLOT MOPPETS?!

    And yes – true, Joanne, TSTL can mean dudes, too.

  5. Redheadedgirl says:

    Ideally, says the girl who wrote the definition of the Plot Moppet, a good plot moppet should have big eyes and an endearing little lisp.  Tragic backstroy and/or ending not required, but it helps. 

    So does this thing I discovered last night- an Acalpulco.  It’s like a mojito, but BETTER.

  6. cleo says:

    One to add – potato rage, also coined by redheadedgirl.  Not sure if it’s as widely used as plot moppet, but I love it

  7. Laura Michelle says:

    What’s the story with spam words?  I’ve noticed them in comments from other readers but I don’t read enough blogs to know if this is a common thing or a SBTB thing.

  8. lorelai says:

    Thank you! I was one of the folks who emailed asking for a glossary!

    There were a couple of phrases that I remember reading that I wasn’t familiar with but after awhile, figured them out: the Mary Sue character (I believe that’s it) and purple prose.

  9. Okay, how have we not talked about the Mighty Wang and the Magic Hoo-Hoo?  These are staples of the Bitchery.  I love the idea of an extended glossary.  🙂

  10. Kilian Metcalf says:

    Did Redheaded Girl actually coin potato rage? I thought I had seen it previously on the Historical Fiction Yahoogroup. Just sayin’

  11. Well, I used it in my Season of the Sun review, and I’ve never looked at the Historical Fiction Yahoogroup.  So there’s that datapoint.

  12. SusanL says:

    The Glossary is good!  Just have to say, when I see Plot Moppet, I always think “Ploppet”.  I don’t know why; I just do 😀

  13. CarrieS says:

    I second “Potato Rage” as an important term.  I use it all the time.  Redheadedgirl rocks.

  14. Jim Lynch says:

    And let’s not forget LOL (laugh out loud) and ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing).  These may be common knowledge, but they certainly come up enough in reviews to be included in the glossary.

  15. Lisa A says:

    Thinking back to when I first found the site there were several acronyms that puzzled me.  You’ve covered several already (HaBO, etc.), but also HEA and SEP had me scratching my head for a while. 

    Any chance you could add what you collect here to your FAQ file??

  16. SB Sarah says:

    I can absolutely add this to the FAQ file – no problem at all!

  17. SB Sarah says:

    OK – updated with new terms and links – WOO! Any other suggestions? Have at it. I’ll link this page from the FAQ right now. Thanks for the ideas!

  18. Laurel says:

    Late to the thread but I wanted to throw my hat in the RedHeaded Girl’s fan club ring. Absolutely the funniest reviews ever and I mutter “plot moppet” and snicker to myself every time I encounter one.  And think fondly of RHG.

  19. Estara says:

    Since you’ve added HEA, you could also add HNF – Happy for Now to the glossary.

  20. Estara says:

    My god, you’re omnipresent – like the goddess of the blog ^^. I’m impressed!

  21. Estara says:

    Right! I’ve started to use plot moppet in my reviews on GoodReads – where appropriate. It’s a really useful short term. Kudos to RHG!

  22. Laura Vivanco says:

    Sarah, I’ve had multiple versions of this post appear in my feedreader (Google Reader) and I think what’s happening is that every time you edit the post, it’s treated as a new post. It’s happened to one of the other new posts too (the one about Penguin) and I noticed that you’d edited that one too.

  23. Anony Miss says:

    How about adding “Candy” – definition: SB Sarah’s Snuffalupagus (as in, seen so rarely as to have their existence doubted, but our at home audience believes, we believe!).

    (BTW, that was meant lovingly as in “I miss Candy,” just to clarify)

  24. SB Sarah says:

    RUH ROH. Thanks for the heads up!

  25. SB Sarah says:

    Snufflupagus? That made me snort water up my nose. HA!

  26. Laura Vivanco says:

    And another non-glossary related comment: I’m still not getting any email notifications of comments on threads I’ve contributed to. I used to like that feature because it made it easy to keep up with the conversation.

  27. Darthjenni says:

    The best term I have ever seen here is “Wall Banger” a book so bad it makes you throw it against the wall in disgust.

  28. SB Sarah says:

    That’s odd. That feature should be active. I’ll figure it out – stay tuned!

  29. SB Sarah says:

    Laura: I found some info for you. You control your subscriptions via your Disqus control panel. Your settings override the site’s settings so you have more control of what your participation means.…

    If you go to your dashboard – which is at the top of this comment thread in a submenu under the grey button that says ‘Disqus’  – you can select “Edit Profile.” In the “Notifications” section you can click the box for which notifications you want.

    The options include:

    Notify me of replies to my comments.
    Subscribe to threads that I comment on.
    Notify me when I’m mentioned in a comment.

    Let me know if you have any problems.

  30. Laura Vivanco says:

    I’m having problems 🙁

    I only got 2 options for notifications: “Enabled. Send me notifications. Disabled. Don’t send me any notifications.”

    When I tried to change to “Enabled”, I got an error message: “There was an error submitting the form.

    If you’re having difficulty, try repeating the action on

  31. cleo says:

    Thought of another one – Romancelandia. It may be too obvious to need a definition, but I really enjoy the term.

  32. xaipe says:

    Do you mean what are “spam words”? They were (I don’t see them on the new site) a kind of captcha to confirm that the poster was human and not a bot. Because the humans could read them, they often included a joke about how apt the text was.

  33. Maili says:

    And as far as I know, the only romance novel to earn an acronym: AKISA or KISA (Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armour).

    Other one-time popular acronyms and jargon terms in the Rom com: TIA = thanks in advance, TBR = books to be read, TBB = book to buy, NYR = not yet released, ABA = autobuy author, OOP = out of print, one-hand = petite heroine (‘so small that he could span her entire waist with his one hand’), HTF = hard to find, PP = pet peeve, HB = hot button, FWIW = for what it’s worth, TBM = the big misunderstanding and MCP = male chauvinist pig.

    Random trivia: TSTL originated at GENIX(?) (dail-up BBS for romance authors and readers). There was a regular who wrote “too stupid to live” when discussing characters. She got this term from her work where she worked as a nurse. She and her colleagues frequently used it to refer certain people had injuries as results of sheer stupidity. It was instantly adopted by the growing Romance community and it evolved into an acronym. Quite a few people said the nurse was an author. I can’t remember her name now. I think it might be Eileen Deyer / Kathleen Korbel?

    I don’t know if this story is true or accurate (GENIX was long gone by the time I arrived – I think the group abandoned it for the Painted Blue Rock?), but that’s the story circulating when I came on board. If it’s true, then it’s probably the Romance community’s greatest contribution to the Usenet / Internet. 😀

  34. Alannah says:

    HFN, not HNF, isn’t it?

  35. SB Sarah says:

    AAHAHAHAHA. HNF. Like “happy… now f**king?” The possibilities are hilarious. (OOops.)

  36. Joan says:

    The first paragraph on page 1 of Donald Spoto’s non-fiction biography “Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi.”
    “In 1181, the harvest in southern Europe was exceptional—especially in Umbria, a fertile region in central Italy, roughly equidistant between Rome, to the south, and Florence, to the north. In the Spolento valley, grapevines, olive and mulberry trees, stately cypresses and gnarled oaks shimmered alongside wheat and corn [WTF] fields in the first light of the autumn days, when peasant families went out to work until dusk.”

  37. Redheadedgirl says:

    There is a term in Latin (I’m at a bus stop right now and can’t get to my books to look it without missing my bus) that is translated into “corn” but really means “general grain stuff”. And I think in the UK, what USians call corn, they call maize, and what they call corn is the general grain stuff. Someone correct me if I’m wrong?

  38. Guest says:

    Dammit, you have just forced me to realize I have a plot moppet in the story I am writing.

  39. Joan says:

    You’re right in the UK “corn” is “general grain stuff” that includes wheat as well as other old world cereal grains like barley or oats. If Spoto were British “wheat and corn” would be correct but redundant. I may give his bio another chance.

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