AP, AR, ADA, PPE, STI: When Accounting Jargon Collides with the Real World

I was driving home from Dunkin’ Donuts earlier today, part of my Sunday morning routine, and I noticed the car in front of me had a customized license plate.

The license plate was “BDE”.

I’m sure it was probably someone’s initials, but the first thought that came to my mind was “Bad Debt Expense”, an accounting phrase used to capture the cost associated with customers not paying a bill which they owed.

Perhaps it was fresh in my mind because we had just covered the topic in class this past week. But then I remembered that earlier in the week we had been talking about an account category known as Property, Plant, and Equipment, or simply PP&E.

I’ve been using that phrase for over 30 years, but in the middle of the lecture it struck me that my students were probably quite familiar with the initials PPE, thanks to COVID-19, making it a popular abbreviation for Personal Protective Equipment.

So then I started to run through all the abbreviations I use in Accounting, and I realized many of them have another meaning outside the world of Accounting:

Abbreviation Accounting Meaning Real World Meaning
AP Accounts Payable Associated Press
AR Accounts Receivable Augmented Reality
ADA Allowance for Doubtful Accounts American With Disabilities Act
American Dental Association
PPE Property, Plant, and Equipment Personal Protective Equipment
BP Bonds Payable British Petroleum
STI Short Term Investments Sexually Transmitted Infection
AD Accumulated Depreciation Athletic Director
anno Domini
BDE Bad Debt Expense Best Day Ever
BS Balance Sheet Bullshit
EBITDA Earnings before Interest, Taxes,
Depreciation, and Amortization
Everything Borden Is Teaching
Defines Absurdity

No wonder it takes students a while to get the hang of this stuff.

I’ll end this here because I’ve got to take care of some AP so they don’t become BDE.

When I’m finished with that I’ll check on my STI…

*Image from MBS Accountants

46 thoughts on “AP, AR, ADA, PPE, STI: When Accounting Jargon Collides with the Real World

  1. BDE, Jim! I learned from the accounting guru that when someone tells me to stop with all of my BS, maybe they’re referring to balance sheets. 🤣

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am impressed by your Dunkin’ Donuts routine. I get why Wawa is so popular. I like Dunkin’ Donuts, any doughnuts really. In New England and the Northeast, DD is an institution that seems to be bigger than the sum of its parts if that is the appropriate expression. And please take care of STI. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard there are Dunkin Donuts everywhere in Boston – sounds like my kind of place. We even found a Dunkin Donuts in Singapore! I’m watching my STI situation closely… 🙂


  3. Sometimes – often – I am reading the newspaper and have no idea what initials stand for. The world of accounting is a mystery to me, but even the most humble job has its numbers, letters and terms that would make no sense to outsiders. Every work place can be an exclusive club and when you go home no one will understand what a stressful day you had because the FH160 didn’t arrive on time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. so funny, each field really does have it’s own jargon, and it is a language unto itself, easily misunderstood by those not in that sphere. education is rife with these, and I always try to remember not to use them when speaking with parents, less is sound like a disjointed robot. great post, jim.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s funny, Jim. It can be difficult keeping up with the abbreviations and acronyms. Education is really bad for it. They seem to keep changing and its hard to figure out just what they mean. I like your comparisons – especially the last. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I am a big fan of donuts. I was quite excited lat week when I read that Dunkin may be coming out with a vegan donut… If so, I will be there a few times a week…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I wonder if teens purposely created a bunch of acronyms to throw us elders off the trail. Newsflash—it wouldn’t have taken much to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am rolling in the aisle! You ignited the ol’ accounting teacher in me. So true, we never heard much of PPE in a medical sense until now. By the way, this lesson was a BDE . . . Best Darn Exercise! I am sure your blather-filled mind can do much better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Richard. Cheers to a fellow accounting teacher! I think when I tell people I teach accounting there Is usually a BDE – Big Drop in Energy… 🙂


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