One of the first things you need to know about Star Trek terminology is that there are a lot of acronyms. A lot. And they’re not all simple. Doctor Who is easy: “TARDIS” stands for “Time And Relative Dimension In Space.” No, Star Trek has complex engineering and story-specific abbreviations like “M/ARA”, which means “Matter/ Antimatter Reaction Assembly.”
It can all be a bit intimidating, especially if you’re new to the worlds of Trek and don’t know your TNG from your LLAP. Fortunately, you don’t need to know them all. In fact, your enjoyment shouldn’t be inhibited whatsoever. But if you’re invested in Trek, you deserve an easy way into this sometimes-scary encyclopaedia of terms.
So here’s a brief beginner’s guide to acronyms and abbreviations commonly used by the Star Trek fandom.
What does Star Trek: TOS mean?
Here’s the perfect place to begin.
The ingenuous thing about Trek is that it spans the generations – and in doing so, spans numerous incarnations too. That results in a vast number of ideas, but it can cause a problem because fans need to quickly refer to specific TV shows. Hence “ST: TOS.”
“ST” obviously means Star Trek, and “TOS” simply means “The Original Series,” i.e. the three-season show that ran from 1966 to 1969, and starred William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and more.
This was even referenced in Star Trek: Lower Decks. Commander Jack Ransom mentions the “TOS” era, and when questioned over its meaning, he slyly says the acronym stands for “Those Old Scientists.” Nicely done, Trek writers!
What does Star Trek: TNG mean?
“TNG” is one of the most famous pieces of Star Trek terminology – and stands for one of its best-loved shows too: The Next Generation, which featured Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard at the helm of the USS Enterprise between 1987 and 1994.
What does Star Trek: DS9 mean?
TNG proved so popular that another Trek series came about in 1993 and ran until 1999: Deep Space Nine, commonly referred to as “DS9” in Star Trek terminology.
Unlike previous iterations of Star Trek, this series was named after the space station that served as the main setting for the programme. From Deep Space Nine, Starfleet could explore the Gamma Quadrant via the Bajoran wormhole located nearby, thus giving viewers wider horizons than the premise might otherwise hint at.
What does Star Trek: VOY mean?
“VOY” means “Voyager,” the successful series that ran from 1995, following the cancellation of The Next Generation, and so proved an accompaniment to Deep Space Nine.
What does Star Trek: ENT mean?
You’ll probably have already worked out, based on the standard abbreviations formula within Star Trek terminology (and with some knowledge of Star Trek‘s most famous ship) that “ENT” is short for “Enterprise.”
ENT was a prequel to TOS and ran from 2001 (the year Voyager concluded) to 2005.
What is the acronym for Star Trek: Discovery?
In Star Trek terminology, the acronyms apply to all series and even movies, so yes, Star Trek: Discovery (2017 – present) has its own abbreviations. In fact, all the latest crop of Trek incarnations do: Lower Decks is “LD”; Picard is “PIC”; and Prodigy is “PROD”.
And Discovery is “DSC.” However, if you’re talking about it, it’s probably easiest to just call it “DISCO,” same as it is referring to Voyager by its name. These abbreviations are typically used in Star Trek terminology when discussing the wider universe of adventures. Let’s say you’re talking about how the Enterprise appears across different programmes: cite mentions as “(TOS),” “(ENT),” or “(DSC)” – and yes, you generally do so using brackets.
What does LLAP mean in Star Trek terminology?
But obviously, acronyms aren’t just useful when talking about TV series and movies. So “LLAP,” which you might’ve seen emblazoned on posters, clothing, stationery, and more Star Trek products doesn’t actually mention a particular show at all.
In Star Trek terminology, “LLAP” means “Live Long And Prosper,” Spock’s famous saying from TOS. It’s more often than not accompanied by the Vulcan salute; that is, a “V” shape formed using your fingers. You know the one.
It’s a phrase we love so much, we put it on an exclusively-designed knitted scarf – the full “Live Long And Prosper,” not the “LLAP” version, because we want to spread that inclusive message beyond even the massive Trek fandom.
What does IDIC mean in Star Trek terminology?
Here’s another piece of Star Trek terminology we thought was iconic enough to grace our Trek line of products, although you might not know it from the acronym “IDIC,” or even from the full, uncondensed version: “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations”.
No, you’ll recognise it as the symbol that looks like a silver or grey pyramid pointing into a circle.
It’s known in the Vulcan language as Kol-Ut-Shan. Its philosophical meaning translates across all linguistic boundaries. In ‘Is There in Truth no Beauty?’ (TOS), Miranda and Spock say that “the glory of creation is in its infinite diversity,” and “the ways our differences combine to create meaning and beauty.”
What does GNDN mean in Star Trek terminology?
There are loads of acronyms to learn – perhaps too many. This is only the start of a Trek voyage, and there’s always time to find out more. And so, for now, we’ve saved the best to last.
You might have spotted the “GNDN” label on pipes throughout the original USS Enterprise in TOS. Pipes running through the walls had set colour combinations and coding designations, which helped build up the intricate depth of details put into the ships. And while many did have actual meanings, “GNDN” is really an in-joke. In the TOS Season 2 DVD special feature, Designing the Final Frontier, set designer John Jefferies, finally revealed what this acronym means.
“GNDN” simply means “Goes Nowhere, Does Nothing.”
It’s a brilliant gag, and so unlikely for a show whose horizons stretch out, “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations – to boldly go where no man has gone before!”
What is your favourite piece of Star Trek terminology? Are there any fun in-jokes that always crack you up? Let us know in the comments section and on social media!
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