A Guide to Mensa
Acronyms, Codes, and Abbreviations

AG Annual Gathering. Mensa’s annual convocation, which meets in various host cities, and is the best party you’ll ever go to. American Mensa’s AG is in late June or early July. Other Mensa national groups also have AGs (U.S. and Canadian Mensa shared a joint AG in 1988). See also RG.

AMC American Mensa Committee, the Board of Directors of American Mensa. Consists of elected officers Chair, first and second Vice-Chairs, two Past Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, and a Vice-Chair for each of the ten U.S. Regions and several appointed officers. The title is a holdover, reflecting Mensa’s British origins.

AML An abbreviation for “American Mensa, Limited,” the official name of our group.

Arlington The offices of American Mensa are in Arlington, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.

BYO Bring Your Own. See the Calendar Abbreviations, below. Commonly seen as BYOB (bring your own beverage), BYO Games, etc.

Calendar The monthly listing of events open to Mensans. Guests of members are always welcome. Prospective members are invited to attend a few functions on a “discovery tour” to find out if Mensa suits them. Call the local group’s Membership Officer if you need more information.

The following are the current calendar codes: BYOB bring your own booze (alcohol), none provided. N/D no donation will be collected. N/B no beverages will be provided (bring your own if you wish). A/P alcoholic beverages prohibited. S/R smoking restricted to designated areas ONLY. S/O smoking OUTDOORS only. N/S no smoking, period. R/A reservations advised, space may be limited. R/R reservations REQUIRED by date indicated. ADM admission or cover charge. YOYO you’re on your own (i.e., there’s no sponsor, but you might like to go)


A word game, invented by Mensa’s own Jan Carnell. As with Charades, the quicker- witted you are, the more fun Carnelli is. It’s best in groups of four or more. The next time you’re with a group of Ms that includes an “old hand” or two, get the old hand to explain the game and start up a round.

Colloquium A gathering for serious thought, not just for fun. Created in response to complaints that gatherings have little intellectual content. There have been four national colloquia as of fall 1989.

Coordinator A loose term for a volunteer who does anything from acting as a telephone contact to organizing and hosting functions.

Densan Defined, variously, as someone with an I.Q. in the bottom two percent, or more often, one who acts that way. Since all smart people do dumb things from time to time, it is also used as an affectionate diminutive for a Mensan who makes not-so-smart statements or decisions. A self reference to being Densan or acting Densan is considered endearing, unless over-used.

ExComm Voting members of the local Executive Committee. It’s different in each local group. In Oregon the ExComm consists of LocSec (q.v.), Membership Officer, Publications Officer, Treasurer, and Recording Secretary. All are elected except the newsletter Editor who is appointed.

Feghoot A shaggy-dog type joke with a pun as the punch line for example, “Pardon me, Roy, is that the cat who chewed your new shoes?”

FSM Fold, Spindle, and Mail (mutilate). A monthly get-together to stick mailing labels on the local newsletter and bundle them according to the dictates of the Postal Service. Not used in Oregon, but a major social event in some chapters.

IBD International Board of Directors (capi di tutti capi).

InterLoc A newsletter published mainly for Local Secretaries, reporting on the business of AMC and the national office. Any member may subscribe free of charge; see your Bulletin for the address.

Isolated M A newsletter for Mensans who can’t participate in local group activities.

LocSec Local Secretary, president of a local group of Mensa. The title is a holdover, reflecting Mensa’s British origins, from the time when that officer was in fact simply a secretary reporting to national Mensa. Although many local groups call their chief executives something else, to National they’re all LocSecs.

Local Group Most Mensans are assigned to one of more than 100 local groups, based on geography. A local group can be compact and populous (New York City, for example) or widespread and sparse (some states have only one local group for the entire state).

“M” A Mensan of any gender. Plural is Ms (pronounced “emz,” not “miz”). FM and MM denote the genders Female and Male. More complex initialisms SFM, DMM and the like, add marital status (Single, Divorced) or other, similar information.

MERFMensa Educational Research Foundation.
¬†¬†¬†Currently being rebranded as Mensa Foundation.National Shorthand for the AMC or the AML corporate office or both. Generally such use is imprecise. See also “Arlington.”

National Office The corporate offices of American Mensa Limited (AML) in Arlington Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Sometimes abbreviated “N.O.”

Newsletter Each local group receives a subsidy from National to publish a monthly calendar of events and reports of Mensa business. Most groups publish a more extensive newsletter, including articles, advertising, and letters. See also “Capital M.”

NomComm Nominating Committee.

Ombudsman A trouble-shooter who listens to gripes, settles complaints, and generally pours oil on troubled waters.

Owl Okay, you know what an owl is. Because the owl was sacred to Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, it has become the unofficial mascot of Mensa, and when you get active in Mensa you’ll see lots of them. Over the years other unofficial mascots have included pelicans, unicorns, Opus the penguin, and doubtless other things–but the owl is pretty solidly entrenched.

Re-Test If you hear the word Re-Test, you can generaly be confident that someone has said or done something silly and there is some gentle teasing going on. It is almost always gentle and teasing, because Mensa never requires a re-test, even after a prolonged lapse in paying dues. Everybody does something silly from time to time, even Mensa members in good standing. Should you ever find yourself using the word in anger, (it happens) rest assured that that you will calm down in a short time. When you get over whatever it was, take the time to appologize to whomever you said that word. And yourself.

RG also: Regional Gathering — the second best party, (after an AG) that you’ll ever go to! Sponsored by a local group, an RG draws its attendance from its own and neighboring groups; if you have a little money, you like to travel, and you have an interest in other places, you’ll love sampling the various RGs. An RG features games, partying, food, music, lectures (on anything and everything from investments to palm reading), and general fooling around. RGs are held in hotels and motels, and local host groups bargain hard for good group rates, so it’s a very inexpensive way to stay in another city. Many groups set up tours of museums and other local attractions and coordinate trips to local restaurants. Attendance can range from 50 to 500. Arrive early, stay an extra day and enjoy the city.

Regional Vice-Chair also: RVC . Elected by and for a geographic region of Mensa, this officer represents that region on the AMC and works to foster growth and development within the region.

Scrivener The ExComm’s minutes-taker, trouble-soother, and long-suffering correspondent. Similar to the Secretary found in other groups.

SEXYG also Sexuality SIG, spelled with a twist. One of the largest SIGs in American Mensa.

SIG Special Interest Group. A means of bringing together Ms who have a common interest in a specific subject. It can be a national SIG, communicating by newsletter or correspondence only, or a local SIG that becomes a regular part of a Mensan’s social life.

SIGHT also: Service for International Guidance and Hospitality to Travelers. A network of volunteer hosts offering accommodations to Ms who want to visit their cities. Local coordinators help get hosts and guests together.

SOTS Save Our Tongue Society, devoted to combating the effects of Gresham’s Law on the English language.