The average English-speaking American adult has a 42,000 -word vocabulary. But the state employees who vet submissions for vanity Wyoming license plates have been exposed to thousands more.
The combination of up to five letters, numbers and spaces allowed on vanity plates never ceases to inspire the imaginations of Wyoming drivers.
Some vanity plate requests are so immature they’re LAAME. Others are RCST, PERV or make references to DRUGS. And some are so graphic, their associated imagery is FDUP and can make UPUKE.
When applicants request a vanity plate, the Wyoming Department of Transportation makes it clear: “Any combination that spells, connotes, abbreviates, or otherwise stands for language that is obscene, vulgar, indecent, or pruriently suggestive will not be allowed,” according to the application form. 5H1T.
To ensure a smutty or otherwise inappropriate request doesn’t sneak through, the WYDOT’s Motor Vehicle Services staffers cover their BUTTS a few ways.
The division maintains a list of 3,255 words – and growing – that employees can cross reference if a request’s meaning isn’t obvious. All of NSFW words capitalized in this story can be found on that list.
The staffers can also search online, including on Urban Dictionary, said Debbie Lopez, the WYDOT Motor Vehicle Services manager.
When applying for a vanity plate, the WYDOT form asks for the meaning behind the requested combination.
After all, one person’s CRAP could be another person’s nickname. “If the customer has a meaning for their combination that doesn’t make sense–for example, if customer wants a random four- to five-letter word and says it is the initials of four or five of their friends, we will check the word/acronym against sources on the internet, like Urban Dictionary,” Lopez said. If the person issuing the plate has reservations about a request, the question will be put to a team of Motor Vehicle Services staffers who will research the issue and offer opinions. If no resolution can be reached, the plate goes to Lopez for approval or denial.
At any given time, Lopez says there are about 20,000 to 25,000 vanity plates on the road. That means employees are constantly vigilant when reviewing applications. People’s minds aren’t exactly climbing out of the gutter. “Because of all the texting acronyms, the process is becoming more work-intensive,” she said.