Posted in Editing, Life and Family

No Account

Funny how we think we know something, and it’s not what we think. One of the changes I had to make to the report was to add ‘n/a’ to the Abbreviations list, “… for ‘not available’,” said our contact.

If she said it was ‘not available’, then that’s what I would put… but I was a little surprised. I always took it to mean ‘no account’. I looked it up, and sure enough, the nearest free dictionaries said it meant ‘not available’ or ‘not applicable’.

As it happens, I can remember why I was convinced it meant ‘no account’ – my father told me. I would have been filling in an application form or something, and he was advising. He said “put n/a…. no account.”

He wasn’t an ignorant man, and I couldn’t believe that it wouldn’t mean that to some people anyway, so I added it to my search term. It started popping up alongside the word ‘banking’. Ah. Yes, that figures… I’m my father’s daughter.



I live in the UK with two cats -- Samson and Delilah.

6 thoughts on “No Account

  1. I use it as “not applicable”, which I guess is similar to “not available.” I use it on a checklist on format for students. Last week one of them called me in a total panic and wanted to know what it meant. “It just means your thesis does not have that element, that’s all.”


  2. I’ve used it as “not applicable”, but I like the thought that it can slide along the scale to have other just as helpful meanings in other contexts. That’s cool! Yea, Dad!


  3. n/a — it’s as though it means the same in all languages! An alien would come to Earth and write ‘n/a’, and we would all know what it meant.

  4. Welcome, Tricia! I didn’t realize WordPress hadn’t published your comment and was waiting for me to give the go-ahead… it always throws me when it does that. I twig eventually, though.

    PS: I sincerely hope aliens don’t come to Earth and write n/a, it wouldn’t bode well. 😉

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