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 Limited. Consists of nationally elected officers including Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, and 10 regionally elected RVCs (Vice-Chairs).  The use of “committee” instead of “board of directors” reflects Mensa’s British origins.
AML (American Mensa, Limited) — An IRS certified 501(c)(4) corporation serving the membership of USA based Mensans.  AML is tax exempt. Donations to AML are not tax deductible, however donations to MERF / The Mensa Foundation generally are.
Arlington — (See National Office, below) The offices of American Mensa were in Arlington Texas, a suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth, for many years. While our offices are no longer in that city, “Arlington” within Mensa is a common reference to the National Office.

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)

Carnelli 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.

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 (Executive Committee)  – Elected, Voting members of the governing body of a Mensa Local Group (LG). Some groups like Mensa of Western Washington in the Seattle area, call this body their Steering Committee (SteerCom). In Oregon the ExComm consists of an elected  Local Secretary (LocSec), Membership Officer, Treasurer, Recording Secretary and Member At Large. This committee appoints other important roles in the local group including Newsletter Editor, Calendar Editor, and RG Chair. The AMC also has an ExComm consisting of the nationally elected officers.

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).

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

LocSec (Local Secretary) — President of a local group (chapter) of American Mensa. Many local groups like Mensa of Western Washington (Seattle area) call their top officer Local President, but to the national organization, they’re all LocSecs. The term “Local Secretary” reflects Mensa’s British origins.

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.

M.E.R.F. (The Mensa Foundation) — Legally: The Mensa Education and Research Foundation. An IRS certified 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation associated with American Mensa Limited, a 501(c)(4) corporation. Donations to the Foundation are deductible for some taxpayers in some years (rules can change with each session of Congress).

N.O. (National Office) — The corporate offices of American Mensa Limited (AML) are located in metropolitan Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas.

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  — The owl was sacred to Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, so the species has become our unofficial mascot. When you are active in Mensa you’ll see lots of them.  Many of the awards for outstanding local groups and volunteers have “Owl” as part of their name preceded by an adjective.

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 (Regional Gathering) — the second best party, (after an AG) you may ever attend!  Sponsored by a Mensa Local Group, an RG draws guests from its own membership, neighboring groups, and the entire world of Mensa. Some local groups have an RG every year, some every other year. A great many members take in several RGs per year. An RG typically takes place over a 2-day or 3-day weekend. They feature food, drink, music, lectures (on anything and everything from investments to palm reading), games, and general partying. RGs are mostly held in hotels and motels, but sometimes it’s a college campus and its dorms. Local Groups hosting an RG bargain for good group rates, so it’s a very inexpensive way to stay in another city. Many groups set up local tours as a kind of pre-party that has included museums, winery visits, boat excursions and other local attractions including a Thursday evening meal at a local restaurant. Attendance can range from 50 to 150. If you travel to an RG the hotel contract typically offers “shoulder days” so you can arrive early, and/or stay an extra day or three and enjoy the town at the negotiated group hotel rate.

RVC (Regional Vice-Chair) — The AMC includes 10 regionally elected vice-chairs, who represent each of the 10 geographic regions by which AML organizes and manages itself.  The RVC serves on the AMC and votes at meetings of the AMC.

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

SEXYG (Sexuality Special Interest Group) — once the largest SIG within Mensa. With the coming of the internet, it’s function was replaced by Social Media and the World Wide Web.

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. SIGs came into being where member-to-member communications required some form of newsletter duplication technology (starting with mimeograph) and now use the internet.

SIGHT (Service for International Guidance and Hospitality to Travelers) — A network of volunteer hosts offering accommodations to Ms who want to visit their cities. Most Local Groups have SIGHT coordinators introduce hosts and guests.

SOTS (Save Our Tongue Society) — A SIG devoted to combating the effects of Gresham’s Law on the English language.