5 December 2021

A Guide to Maryland Mensa Vocabulary:
Acronyms, Abbreviations, and other
M-peculiar Terms

ABM                                    Annual Business Meeting of the American Mensa Committee, typically held during the Annual Gathering.  Officers report on the state of Mensa in America and members are invited to ask questions.

ACE                                    Achieving Communications Excellence. This program recognizes excellence in American Mensa’s newsletters and websites, with overall goals of wider distribution and better communication among Mensans.

AG                                       Annual Gathering. Mensa’s national convention, which meets in various host cities once each year and may be the best party you’ll ever experience. American Mensa’s AG ordinarily occurs in late June or early July.  AG 2015 will be in Louisville, KY. See also RG.

AMC                                   American Mensa Committee, which is the ruling body of American Mensa.  The AMC is commonly called “American Mensa’s board of directors”, and consists of both elected and appointed officers.  It has 21 voting members, including the Chairman; First and Second Vice Chairmen; Secretary; Treasurer; 10 Regional Vice Chairmen; two Past Chairmen; the Communications, Membership, and Development Officers; and the Director of Science and Education.

AML                                    An abbreviation for “American Mensa, Limited”, the official name of Mensa’s national-level organization in America. AML’s mailing address is

American Mensa, Ltd.

1229 Corporate Drive West

Arlington, TX 76006-6103

         AML is commonly referred to as just American Mensa.

ASIE                                    Actions Still in Effect. Decisions rendered by the AMC or local ExComm that will affect future administrations and member issues. They are removed when they no longer relate to current policy or the policy as defined has passed.  See also Standing Rules.

At-large Member                MM’s two At-large Members are voting members of the ExComm, and are responsible for representing the entire membership of the local group at ExComm meetings; assisting other ExComm members as needed; and performing other functions as requested by the ExComm. The positions are elected ones.

BRIGHT                             Bringing Resources and Involvement to Gifted Homes Together. Maryland Mensa’s umbrella program for gifted youth and family initiatives.  See also GYC/GYP.

BYO                                    Bring Your Own. Often seen as BYOB (bring your own beverage), BYOGames, etc.

Calendar                             The monthly listing of events open to Mensans and their invited guests. Guests of members are always welcome. Prospective members are also invited to attend two or three functions on a “discovery tour” to see if Mensa suits them. Each month’s MM calendar is published in both Maryland Mensa’s newsletter, M-Anation, as well as online at MM’s website.

Capital M                             Also known as Cap-M. The monthly newsletter of Metropolitan Washington Mensa (MWM), MM’s neighbor to the south (and with whom we share activity calendars).

Carnelli                               A word game, invented by MWM’s Jan Carnell. As with Charades, the quicker- witted you are, the more fun Carnelli is. It’s best in groups of four or more. The next time you’re with a group of Ms that includes an “old hand” or two, get the old hand(s) to explain the game and start up a round.

CO                                       Communications Officer on the AMC.

Colloquium                         A gathering for serious thought, not just for fun. The first Mensa Colloquium was held in 1982 “To offer a forum for any interested Mensan to explore, debate, evaluate, and offer judgment on a major issue of long-range importance to society.” Colloquia are typically scheduled just before AGs today.  The one scheduled for 2022 in Sparks, Nevada will focus on Giftedness Across the Lifespan.

Community                         The umbrella term for American Mensa’s members-only online forums. Along with hundreds of active threads in the forums, the Community includes chat rooms and a File Vault that includes the Officers’ Sharehouse and a central location for national committee files.

Coordinator                        A loose term for a volunteer who does anything from acting as a telephone contact to organizing and hosting functions.

Culture Quest                     An annual Mensa competition to promote and test cultural literacy, usually held in April. Mensa teams from around the U.S. and Canada compete within their local geographic area.

Densan                                A Mensan who makes a silly mistake, or acts like a fool or a jerk.

DO                                       Development Officer on the AMC.

DSE                                     Director of Science and Education on the AMC.

Editor                                  MM’s Editor is a voting member of the ExComm, and is responsible for assembling, composing, editing, and printing (both physically and electronically) the group’s monthly newsletter and any other publications of Maryland Mensa. The position is an elected one.

ExComm                             Executive Committee. The governing bodies of the AMC and local groups.  Maryland Mensa’s ExComm consists of nine voting members (Local Secretary and President, First Vice President (Membership), Second Vice President (Programs), Treasurer, Newsletter Editor, Recording Secretary, two At-large Members, and the Immediate Past President) and eight appointed members (Scholarship Chair; Website Director; Regional Gathering Chair; and Subgroup Coordinators for Annapolis, the Eastern Shore, Western Maryland, Northern Maryland, and Southern Maryland ).

Feghoot                               Named for fictional character Ferdinand Feghoot, this shaggy-dog type of joke has a pun as the punch line — for example, “Pardon me, Roy, is that the cat who chewed your new shoes?”

First Vice President            MM’s First Vice President (Membership) is a voting member of the

(Membership)                     ExComm, and is responsible for publicity, public relations (in coordination with the President), testing, and recruitment programs.  The position is an elected one. 

Fishbowl                              A party or gathering activity in which anonymous questions are written and put into a fishbowl (or equivalent container). A moderator draws the questions one by one and solicits responses. In the most popular variation, the men write questions for the women and vice versa.

FSM                                     Fold, Staple, and Mutilate, the monthly get-together to stick mailing labels, tabs, and stamps on the paper copies of M-Anation (MM’s monthly newsletter) to prepare them for mailing through the US Postal Service. Applies to any gathering convened to prepare for bulk mailings (e.g., Annual Mensa Scholarship Competition announcements mailed to academic institutions throughout Maryland.)

GDDG                                 Great Decisions Discussion Group—a group of Mensans meeting to discuss a series of topics drawn from the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions Briefing Book issued each year.

GOTYA                              Group of the Year Award. A competitive award begun in 1999 to recognize and reward local groups’ membership-related activities and their active participation in all that Mensa has to offer.

GYC, GYP                         Gifted Youth Coordinator, Gifted Youth Program. MM’s GYP supports gifted youth in Maryland, their families, and Maryland educators. The GYC is nominated by the ExComm but appointed nationally.

Hospitality                           The hub of any Mensa gathering, the hospitality room offers snacks, beverages, meals, and the opportunity to sit down for as long as you care to and just chat with other attendees.  Some AG- and RG-goers never leave the hospitality room.

IBD                                      International Board of Directors.  The governing body of Mensa International, the global umbrella group for Mensa worldwide.

InterLoc                               A newsletter published mainly for Local Secretaries, reporting on the business of AMC and the national office. Any member may subscribe free of charge; see your Bulletin for the address.

Isolated M                            A newsletter for Mensans who can’t participate in local group activities (group number 999).

Joke-off                               A popular event at AGs and RGs. Ms compete to tell the funniest jokes, clean and otherwise. The contest may last for several hours

LDW                                   Leadership Development Workshop. A gathering which provides courses and seminars to improve the leadership and management skills and knowledge of local group officers and other Mensans.

Local Group                       Most American Mensans are assigned to one of 129 local groups based on geography (plus group 999, Isolated M, for members who are geographically or otherwise inaccessible). A local group can be compact and populous (New York City, for example) or widespread and sparse (some states have only one local group for the entire state).  Maryland Mensa is local group number 210.

LocSec                                 Local Secretary: president of a local group of Mensa. The title is a holdover, reflecting Mensa’s British origins at a time when the officer was simply a secretary reporting to national Mensa. Maryland Mensa’s Local Secretary and President is both the chief executive officer of the local group as well as its principal liaison with the public, other groups, and AML. The LocSec is a voting member of the ExComm, has responsibility and authority for all matters not clearly assigned to other officers, and may delegate any of his or her functions and authority so long as such delegations are recorded in meeting minutes. The position is an elected one.

M                                         A Mensan of either sex. Plural is Ms (pronounced “emz,” not “miz”). FM and MM denote the genders; SFM, DMM and the like add marital status or other, similarly deducible information.

M-Anation                           The monthly newsletter of Maryland Mensa.  Published in both physical (paper) form and electronically.  Archived copies may be found in the members area of MM’s website.

Maryland Mensa                Local Group 210 of American Mensa,Maryland Mensa (MM) is defined by geography:  It contains all of Maryland except for Montgomery County and Prince Georges County, which are part of Metropolitan Washington Mensa (MWM).  MM is bordered on the south by MWM, Tidewater Mensa, and Richmond Area Mensa; on the east by Delaware Mensa; on the north by Delaware Valley Mensa and Central Pennsylvania Mensa; and on the west by Vandalia Mensa (part of region 3:  Great Lakes and Ohio Valley).

Mediator                             Often called an Ombudsman, MM’s Mediator arbitrates disputes within the local group.  The Mediator is forbidden by bylaws from serving as a member of Maryland Mensa’s ExComm.

Mensa                                  Latin for “table”, Mensa is a round table society in which race, color, creed, national origin, age, politics, and educational and social background are irrelevant. Mensa was founded in Oxford, England in 1946, and its sole criterion for admission is possession of an IQ of roughly 132 or above (that is, a score in the top two percent of the general population).  Its objective is to provide opportunities to its members to enjoy each other’s company and participate in a wide range of social and cultural activities.

Mensa International           The umbrella organization for Mensa worldwide. The registered address for Mensa International, Limited is

Slate Barn

Church Lane




United Kingdom

Mensalon                             A Mensa salon—that is, a gathering of Mensans in a member’s home to discuss literature, philosophy, the arts, science (including political science), and so forth.

Mensa Works                     American Mensa’s Mensa Works provides career resources to members.

MERF                                 Mensa Education & Research Foundation, now commonly called the Mensa Foundation.  Founded in 1971, the Mensa Education & Research Foundation is a philanthropic, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization committed to the pursuit of excellence in human intelligence. Each year the foundation gives away an average of $85,000 through a scholarship program run by 400 volunteers from coast to coast; presents national and international awards in recognition of research, education and practical achievement regarding giftedness, intelligence, and creativity; and publishes the Mensa Research Journal.

MIL                                     Mensa International, Limited.

Mind Games®                    American Mensa’s national games competition where Mensans select the top five new board and card games based on originality, game play, play value, aesthetics and clarity of instructions.

MM                                      Maryland Mensa (local group number 210).

MMMM, M4, M4               Monthly Meeting of Maryland Mensa.

MoM                                    Meeting of the Minds:  an open forum hosted by MWM each month for the exchange of ideas, opinions, and sentiments of all stripes, colors, and flavors.

Mommy Letter                   Referencing “stuff you wish your mommy had told you”, this document is sent to the registrants for many major Mensa events. Mommy letters include pertinent facts about getting to the hotel where the event is being held, the hotel itself, meals, entertainment, special events, the weather, what to pack, security, pets . . . whatever the event planners feel would be most beneficial for you to know in advance of your arrival.

MWJ                                   Mensa World Journal, the membership magazine for Mensa International.

MWM                                  Metropolitan Washington Mensa (local group 200).

National, National Office   National level of American Mensa. Often used as shorthand for AMC, AML, or the central office in Arlington, Texas.

Newsletter                           Each local group receives a subsidy from National to publish a monthly calendar of events, lists of officer contacts, and reports of Mensa business. Most groups publish a more extensive newsletter, including articles, ads, and letters. See also M-Anation.

NO                                       National Office.

NomComm                         Nominating Committee. Every group of Mensa, from local to international, forms a NomComm from time to time to identify and officially nominate candidates for elective office.

Owl                                      The owl was sacred to Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, and is the unofficial mascot of Mensa.  It’s also part of the name of two awards presented annually by American Mensa to the local groups that most effectively foster growth and retention. The Prolific Owl is awarded for outstanding membership growth, and the Innovative Owl is awarded for outstanding membership retention.

Proctor                                Proctors plan, coordinate, schedule, administer, and oversee testing sessions for admission to Mensa. Maryland Mensa’s proctors are nominated by the ExComm, but appointed nationally.

Recording Secretary          MM’s Recording Secretary is a voting member of the ExComm and is responsible for, among other things, taking the business minutes of every general meeting and ExComm meeting and making them available for publication in the newsletter.  The position is an elected one.

Region 2                              Covering the Mid-Atlantic, Region 2 is one of 10 regions that make up American Mensa.  In addition to Maryland Mensa (local group 210), Region 2 includes

  • Central New Jersey Mensa (local group 070);
  • Delaware Valley Mensa (080);
  • Central Pennsylvania Mensa (170);
  • Lehigh Pocono Mensa (181);
  • Delaware Mensa (197);
  • Metropolitan Washington Mensa (200);
  • Richmond Area Mensa (224);
  • Thomas Jefferson Mensa (227); and
  • Tidewater Mensa (233). 

RG                                       Regional Gathering—the second best party, after an AG, that you’ll ever go to! Sponsored by a local group, an RG draws its attendance from its own and other Mensa groups. If you have a little money, you like to travel, and you have an interest in other places, you’ll love sampling the various RGs across the country.  Generally held over a single weekend, an RG features games, partying, food, music, lectures (on anything and everything from investments to palm reading), and general fooling around. RGs are held in hotels and motels.  Because local host groups bargain successfully for good group rates, it’s usually an inexpensive way to stay in another city. Many groups set up tours of museums and other local attractions and coordinate trips to local restaurants. Attendance can range from 50 to 500. (HalloweeM, Chicago Area Mensa’s October RG, sometimes rivals AGs in size.)

RVC                                    Regional Vice-Chair. Elected by and for each geographic region of Mensa, this officer represents that region on the AMC and works to foster growth and development within the region.  

Scholarship Chair              A volunteer appointed by MM’s ExComm who oversees, publicizes, coordinates, and manages Maryland Mensa’s participation in the Mensa Foundation’s annual scholarship program, to include

  • solicitation and local judging of essays;
  • submission of Maryland Mensa’s best essays to the panel of judges for its AML Region;
  • administration, as appropriate, of one or more Maryland Mensa-funded and Mensa-awarded scholarships each year;
  • notification of scholarship winners within Maryland Mensa’s geographic boundaries; and
  • presentation of scholarship checks.

                                             The Scholarship Chair is a non-voting member of the ExComm.

Second Vice President       MM’s Second Vice President (Programs) is a voting member of the

(Programs)                          ExComm, and is responsible for promoting and coordinating Maryland Mensa activities, including social and cultural programs at general meetings.  The position is an elected one. 

SIG                                      Special Interest Group. A means of bringing together Ms who have a common interest in a specific subject. It can be a national SIG, communicating by newsletter or correspondence only, or a local SIG that becomes a regular part of a Mensan’s social life. MWM’s Bridge SIG is an enduring local example.

SIGHT                                Service for International Guidance and Hospitality to Travelers.  A network of volunteers who help find accommodations for Ms visiting their cities. Maryland Mensa’s SIGHT Coordinator is nominated by the ExComm but appointed nationally.

SOTS                                   Save Our Tongue Society, devoted to combating the effects of Gresham’s Law on the English language.

Standing Rules                   Decisions and guidelines passed by the ExComm and published in the Members Area of Maryland Mensa’s website, MM’s standing rules govern specified aspects of local group administration and member issues. They are updated or removed at the ExComm’s discretion as the group’s circumstances change.

Subgroup Coordinator      A volunteer appointed by MM’s ExComm who welcomes new members to his or her geographic area of the local group (e.g., Western Maryland Subgroup), receives calls and questions from nearby members, and helps arrange Mensa activities within the subgroup area. Subgroup coordinators are non-voting members of the ExComm.

Treasurer                            MM’s Treasurer is a voting member of the ExComm, and is responsible for overseeing, tracking, and reporting all of the financial matters of Maryland Mensa. The position is an elected one.

Webmaster                          A volunteer appointed by MM’s ExComm who designs, implements, manages, and maintains the layout and content of Maryland Mensa’s Internet website on behalf of the ExComm. The Website Director is a non-voting member of the ExComm.

YMs                                     Young Mensans—that is, members of Mensa who are under the age of 18.