Arizona Acronyms and What They Mean

What Do Those Initials Mean?

Acronym Letters
••• What Do Those Letters Mean?. Caspar Benson / Getty Images

Every city has its acronyms. Where I grew up, the MTA was always threatening to strike, meaning that you might have to drive into town on the LIE or the GCP. The NYPD was there to protect and serve. We got our first dog from the ASPCA. I only went to summer camp once--at the Y. When I applied to colleges, I had hoped to go to SUNY, but alas, I ended up at CUNY. My mom worked for the QBPL. During my college years, I worked at JFK, but upon graduation, I went to work at MHT.

My brother lived in SoHo for a while.

Of course, some acronyms are not regional. I can order a BLT anywhere in this country and be understood. We know which cities have NBA franchises and on Monday nights in the fall everyone knows where to find the NFL game on TV. CNN became a household word during my lifetime, as, sadly, did AIDS.

I don't think we have quite as many acronyms in Arizona as they use in New York City, but if you are new to the area, here are some acronyms every Phoenix resident should know.

ADEQ

ADEQ is the acronym for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: A-D-E-Q. It is a state agency. These are the folks who monitor our air, water, and waste and have the challenge of keeping our environment safe for our growing population to enjoy.
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ADOT

ADOT is the acronym for Arizona Department of Transportation.

You will hear it pronounced as a word: A-dot. This is the state agency that is responsible for roads, highways, traffic and the MVD.
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AHCCCS

AHCCCS is the acronym for Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

It is pronounced like the word "access." AHCCCS is Arizona’s Medicaid program. AHCCCS contracts with health plans and other program contractors, to deliver health care to some of Arizona's citizens in need. AHCCCS receives federal, state and county funds to operate, plus some monies from Arizona’s tobacco tax. Common Misspellings: ACCESS, ACCHS, AHCCS
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AIMS

AIMS is the acronym for Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards. It is pronounced like the word "aims" as in the sentence, "he aims his weapon and fires." It is a mechanism for standardized testing. Since its inception in 1999, AIMS has been very controversial and has been tweaked several times. Parents and teachers have criticized AIMS as being too difficult, and, therefore, making our students appear to be at lower levels of accomplishment than in other states. In 2014 AIMS was replaced with AzMERIT, but standardized testing continues to be a contentious topic in Arizona.
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ALEX

ALEX is the acronym for Ahwatukee Local Explorer.

It is pronounced like the name "Alex." ALEX is a free neighborhood circulator service Provided by the City of Phoenix that follows a 40 mile round trip route through Ahwatukee Foothills. Riding ALEX is free.
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APS

APS is the acronym for Arizona Public Service. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: A-P-S. APS is one of the two major electric companies in the greater Phoenix area. The other one is SRP. APS generates, sells and delivers electricity and energy-related products and services. APS serves more than one million customers in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties, and is the operator and co-owner of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station – a primary source of electricity for the Southwest. APS is headquaretered in Phoenix.

The parent company, Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, is a publoicly held corporation in which you can buy stock.
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ARS

ARS is the acronym for Arizona Revised Statutes. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: A-R-S. These are the state laws of Arizona, as approved by the Arizona Legislature.
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ASU

ASU is the acronym for Arizona State University. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: A-S-U. You may also hear ASUE (Arizona State University East), ASUW (Arizona State University West) and ASUM (Arizona State University Main). ASU was established in Tempe in 1885. It was originally a teachers college. ASU has had several names since its inception: Normal School of Arizona, Tempe State Teachers College, Arizona State Teachers College, and Arizona State College. By 1958 the college performed all the functions of a university, and received authorization by an act of the governor to become Arizona State University.
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AZ

AZ isn't really an acronym, it's an abbreviation. AZ is the abbreviation for Arizona. Not AR--that's where people from Little Rock live!
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CAP

CAP is the acronym for Central Arizona Project. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: C-A-P. CAP exists to deliver the allocation of Colorado River water to central Arizona. The entire project cost over $4 billion to construct.
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CC&R

CC&R is the acronym for Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: C-C-and-R. The plural is CC&Rs. If you buy a home, chances are there will be deed restrictions of some sort, defining what you can and can't do on your property. Sometimes there are lots of CC&Rs, sometimes there aren't. If you purchase a home with a HOA (see page 4), you'll probably have more CC&Rs than those who don't.
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DASH

DASH is the acronym for Downtown Area Shuttle. You pronounce it just like the word "dash." It is also referred to as the DASH. It takes a route in downtown Phoenix only, basically from the government complex on the west to the entertainment venues, courts and downtown business ditrict to the Central Station at Central Ave. and Van Buren. Riders can connect to METRO Light Rail from some Dash stations.
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DES

DES is the acronym for Department of Economic Security. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: D-E-S. The Arizona Department of Economic Security promotes the safety, well-being, and self sufficiency of children, adults, and families.
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DPS

DPS is the acronym for Department of Public Safety. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: D-P-S. DPS consists of four divisions - Highway Patrol, Criminal Investigations, Agency Support and Criminal Justice Support. The Arizona Department of Public Safety, with state headquarters in Phoenix, has offices located in more than 30 communities within Arizona's 15 counties.
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DUI

DUI is the acronym for Driving Under the Influence. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: D-U-I. In other parts of the country, the more popular acronym may be DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated. DUI covers more than just alcohol, including drugs and marijuana, if it impairs your ability to drive. It's illegal. Don't do it. The penalties are severe.
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FBR

The January 2004 PGA golf tournament in Scottsdale was the first one to use the name FBR Open. All that means is that FBR arranged, for a sponsorship, to have the golf tournament name changed to reflect their significant participation. It was easier to remember when it was The Phoenix Open! When the big, famous PGA golf tournament held at the beginning of each year in Scottsdale, Arizona was called the FBR Open, people had a hard time remembering what FBR means. It was called the FBR Open because the Title Sponsor of the event was the Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group, Inc. It is an investment banking, institutional brokerage, asset management company headquartered in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. That company's logo/acronym is FBR. In 2010 the title sponsor changed, and the event name changed to Waste Management Phoenix Open.

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FLASH

FLASH is the acronym for Free Local Area Shuttle. It pronounced just like the word "flash." FLASH is the City of Tempe's shuttle connecting Tempe neighborhoods with ASU.
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GPEC

GPEC is the acronym for Greater Phoenix Economic Council. It is pronounced "G-peck." Since its inception in 1989, GPEC has helped hundreds of companies expand or relocate into Greater Phoenix, creating many thousands of jobs.
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GUS

GUS is the acronym for Glendale Urban Shuttle. It is pronounced like the name "Gus." For a very small fee, GUS will take you around central Glendale.
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HOA

HOA is the acronym for Homeowners Association. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: H-O-A. Unlike some older parts of the country, we have many HOAs in the greater Phoenix area. Why? Well, many of our communities are built with common areas and facilities that need to be managed. HOAs are very controversial!
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HOV

HOV is the acronym for High Occupancy Vehicle. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: H-O-V. HOV lanes, also known as carpool lanes, have helped improve the traffic situation, but you should only be using the HOV lanes when you are eligible to do so.
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MCSO

MCSO is the acronym for Maricopa County Sheriff's Department. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: M-C-S-O. They provide law enforcement services and manage detention facilities for Maricopa County.
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MTBE

MTBE is the acronym for Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: M-T-B-E. MTBE is a fuel additive in motor gasoline. It is one of a group of chemicals commonly known as "oxygenates" because they raise the oxygen content of gasoline. Since 1992, MTBE has been used at higher concentrations in some gasoline to fulfill the oxygenate requirements set by Congress in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

MVD

MVD is the acronym for Motor Vehicle Division. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: M-V-D. In other parts of the country, you might be more familiar with the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). MVD handles driver and vehicle services, like driver licenses and vehicle registrations.
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NAU

NAU is the acronym for Northern Arizona University. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: N-A-U. NAU is part of the State University system and is located in Flagstaff, AZ.
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PHX

PHX isn't really an acronym, it is a shortened version of the name of Arizona's capital, Phoenix. It is also the airport code for Sky Harbor International Airport.
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PV

PV is the acronym for Paradise Valley. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: P-V. Not many of our cities and towns have shortened versions, but for some reason, Paradise Valley is often referred to as PV. The Town of Paradise Valley is an affluent community incorporated in 1961. PV encompasses an area of 16.5 square miles, and it is exclusively zoned for single family residential use. No multiple housing units or common walls are permitted. PV has a population of over 13,000 people.
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SR

SR is the acronym for State Route. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: S-R. It is usually said in conjunction with a route number. SR51 is State Route 51, or the Piestewa Peak Parkway.
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SRP

SRP is the acronym for Salt River Project. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: S-R-P. SRP is one of two major electric companies in the area. APS (see page 2) is the other one. SRP provides electricity to nearly 800,000 retail customers in the Phoenix area. It operates or participates in seven major power plants. Besides electricity, SRP also maintains an extensive water delivery system is maintained and operated by the Association, including reservoirs, wells, canals and irrigation laterals.
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TEP

TEP is the acronym for Tucson Electric Power. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: T-E-P. TEP is the major energy provider in Southern Arizona. TEP is also the acronym for Tucson Electric Park, the Spring Training facility in Tucson used by the Arizona Diamondbacks. By the way, TEP is the major sponsor of TEP. (You figure it out!)
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TPC

TPC is the acronym for Tournament Players Club. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: T-P-C. TPC Scottsdale is the golf course where the Waste Management Phoenix Open (formerly FBR Open is played each January. It is also a public golf course that everyone can enjoy, and is located adjacent to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort and Spa.
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UA

UA (or UofA) is the acronym for University of Arizona. You don't say it as a word, you just spell it: U-of-A. The UofA is located in Tucson, and is one of the three state universities in Arizona, along with ASU and NAU. The UofA and ASU have a long-time sports rivalry.
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