We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?

Oslo, Norway
Level Contributor
7,332 posts
19 reviews
13 helpful votes
What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?
Save

I've seen San Fran, SF and SFO being used by posters on this forum. Some decades ago, I remember Frisco being the most popular nickname for San Francisco. I agree with the poster who wrote "San Fran grates my ear", SFO sounds like the airport and SF could mean a lot of things. I would like to hear the opinion of the San Franciscans on this?

San Francisco
Level Contributor
36,628 posts
23 reviews
98 helpful votes
1. Re: What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?
Save

On this board SF is accepted shorthand for the city of San Francisco.

SFO is the airport which is 15 miles south. I don't write LHR when I mean London or ORD when I mean Chicago. I don't know how this became popular but its usage, when one means SF, should be stamped out. Right after Frisco and San Fran. I've lived here since college and 'Frisco' has always been despised.

Verbally, 'San Francisco' or simply 'the city' are fine.

We sometimes are accused of being overly fussy on this issue. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But people come to these forums to become informed travelers. Your question is a good one and thank you for asking it so clearly and directly.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
749 posts
2. Re: What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?
Save

Makes me mad when people refer to Cali. Calif is ok :-)

--
Level Contributor
3,722 posts
2 reviews
16 helpful votes
3. Re: What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?
Save

I second RamblinSal's comments.

In the not to distant past (darn well better not be, as I remember it....), air travel was a more exotic thing, and the airline industry and frequent air traveler's practice of calling cities by their airport designator codes became in at least some people's minds a way to give their speech a certain cachet of worldliness or being well-traveled. Now air travel is more like being herded aboard greyhound buses (or in the post 9/11 world, the buses with metal-mesh covered windows you see the San Francisco Sheriff's Department hauling prisoners down Highway 280 between the Hall of Justice in San Francisco and the county jails in San Bruno) it's more a case of being your choice of outdated, ignorant, or lazy.

Similarly I believe the term "Frisco" originated with sailors and the merchant marine as describing one of their favored ports of call. I don't know if it was an independent development or possibly post-WW II cross pollination that certain motorcycle groups also started using the name. Now unless you have a history as a career seaman (not just a short stint) or sport the colors of one of the traditional motorcycle groups, or have a close affiliation to somebody who does, considering the decline of the maritime industry in San Francisco and the general lack of motorcycle gangs using the term "Frisco" is again a case of being outdated, ignorant or simply an affectation.

Manhattan Beach...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach
Level Contributor
23,699 posts
3 reviews
7 helpful votes
4. Re: What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?
Save

"Frisco" is what my Dad called SF when he was a soldier in WW 2. All the GI's who shipped in and out of there, used that term most of their life, and after they returned to their homes in the US. Perhaps those who use that term, heard if from parents.

One of my kids, who has lived in SF for 12 years would never call it that.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
7,646 posts
194 reviews
118 helpful votes
5. Re: What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?
Save

I will bet that this has come up on the Chicago board related to "Chi-town".

And I agree with SkateboardGirl - "Cali" marks you as a visitor.

Los Angeles...
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
17,775 posts
124 reviews
114 helpful votes
6. Re: What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?
Save

Born in Pasadena. Grew up in California. Call it Cali all the time and most of my high school classmates and cousins call it that on occasion, too. Nearly all were born here.

Not sure when that started but as Los Angeleno (also known as a SoCalo), I know lots of people who are natives who use the word Cali. I think perhaps it started out of email-speak and moved into general conversation. Or maybe I heard it from an "outsider" (now that I'm thinking about it, I realize my family in Hawaii uses it too, almost exclusively) but certainly, my Californian-born family count as native Californians who don't find it the least problematic to abbreviate the state's name as Cali.

Some of my family call it Califas as an affectionate or humorous term.

I wouldn't use "Cali" if someone from another state asked me where I was from. But we use Cali all the time to refer to our state, locally. "So now you're governator of Cali, Arnie, watcha gonna do now?"

So it does *not* mark someone as a non-native. Second generation Californian here, as well. That means my family has been living here since 1921.

People use terms differently, but I know better than to use San Fran or Frisco around a San Franciscan (my dad, a WW2 veteran still uses it - even around our family members from the Bay Area, I think he means it in a positive way).

Anyway, dón't be so sure that when someone says Cali that means they weren't born and raised here.

San Francisco
Level Contributor
36,628 posts
23 reviews
98 helpful votes
7. Re: What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?
Save

I too was born in California (Santa Monica). I never heard California referred to as "Cali" until recently. I thought its popularity began with L.L. Cool J's song "Goin' Back to Cali"

I think "cali" grates more on Northern Californians than those in the southland. To me, and obviously a few others, it's right up there with Frisco.

Pacifica, California
Destination Expert
for Pacifica
Level Contributor
13,630 posts
4 reviews
11 helpful votes
8. Re: What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?
Save

I cringe when I hear "Frisco" and "Cali," but it always seemed like a petty issue to jump on peoples' backs about. That said, they are terms I never hear Bay Area locals use. I occasionally hear "Cali" used in Southern California, but when I was going to grad school at USC in the late 80's, I never remember hearing it.

Shortly after I came to Northern California in the late 70's, I picked up a tourist guide about San Francisco. In the very first paragraph it warned the reader to "Never call it Frisco." So I never did. It's more of a religious issue than a rational issue. People here simply accept that you never call San Francisco: "Frisco." (Or put the word "the" in front of a highway number.)

Edited: 10 years ago
Los Angeles...
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Level Contributor
17,775 posts
124 reviews
114 helpful votes
9. Re: What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?
Save

I do think it grates on people from Northern California more than Southern Californians (in fact, urban dictionary seems to support that - someone claims the entire town of La Jolla uses it, ha). It's running about 52-48% against using it as a positive term for California on urbandictionary.

I know I've heard it way before LL Cool J.

It's possible the term was invented outside California (like the word California itself), but certainly some natives use it.

Right now, in SoCal, there's a great deal of discomfort/politicization attached to being termed a non-native (especially if one is a native), particularly in light of Arizona politics. Just wanted people to know that many natives do use the term (and not in a disrespectful way), although clearly, San Franciscans seem to be more irritated by nicknames than SoCalos.

I think some Los Angelenos get offended by having it referred to as LaLaLand, but many use that term as well (this is one where if you're an outsider, best not to use it here, although mostly people will laugh and know what you mean).

And I hardly ever meet anyone from out of town who calls it The City of Angels, but I know people here who do.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
86,152 posts
192 reviews
153 helpful votes
10. Re: What nickname/abbreviation is acceptable, if any?
Save

Do you local San Francisco residents mind that TripAdvisor hyperlinks San Fran as they do other full city name destinations? I'm not sure anyone really notices that some destinations are hyperlinked in blue, but I notice. It just seems like TA is sort of rewarding folks for using the wrong name.

I plan to ask TA to hyperlink Yosemite without the rest of the title: Yosemite National Park. And I'll repeat my correction request about their erroneous hyperlink for another city. Should I ask about removing the "SanFran" hyperlink?

---------

adding ~ it doesn't look like San Fran was hyperlinked in this thread. I don't know why, but I've seen it linked in the past. Usually the first mention of a destination in a forum thread is hyperlinked. Most interesting..........

Edited: 10 years ago
$USD
United States

This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in the United States. If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu.