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.

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6 responses

  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.”

    Whew.

  2. shussmallworld | Reply

    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!

    Shu

  3. I’ve always used it as “not applicable” as well – hadn’t heard of the other definitions LOL

  4. 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.

  5. 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. 😉

  6. Certainly agree with you about the Aliens – if they did write n/a, we could all be exterminated 🙂

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