Pitfalls: MV, PV, CM, CF

warning symbol of exclamation point in triangle, by zeimusu at openclipart.org

The terms “MV,” “PV,” “CM,” and “CF” are popular in countries such as Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea. However, most people in North America and other English-speaking countries don’t know what MV, PV, CM, or CF mean. You need to be careful with letter-based words (usually called “acronyms”). Even though they’re based on real English words, native English speakers may not use the same acronyms.

  • Pitfall: MV, PV
    American English: Music video. We don’t generally use this abbreviation (short form). We just say “video” or “music video.”
    Example 1: My band made our first music video this weekend! Example 2: Did you see Gnarls Barkley’s new music video? I really liked it!



    Here are two music videos that I like. The first one is “Two Silver Trees” by Calexo, and the second one is “Many Moons” by Janelle Monae. It might be hard to hear the words, so you can look up the lyrics here. Their lyrics are very poetic, so they’re probably still hard to understand! (And there are some “adult” words in the Janelle Monae song, so please only try it if you are in high school or older.)



  • Pitfall: CM or CF
    American English: Ad (casual), advertisement, commercial. (Note: “advertisement” is pronounced differently in British and American English.) Usually, to refer to both radio and TV advertisements, we just say “ad.”
    Example 1: I really hate that new diamond ring ad–it’s sexist and insulting to women. Example 2: I love watching TV shows on DVD because I don’t have to see any commercials!



    This ad from the pay-TV network Discovery Channel was really popular last year. A lot of people made their own versions, and the geeky webcomic xkcd even did a parody.

Do you know some other acronyms that you’re not sure about? You can leave a comment and ask, and I’ll try to to answer you or write about it in a future Pitfalls post.

(Read other “Pitfalls” posts about words and phrases that can be a little dangerous.)

6 thoughts on “Pitfalls: MV, PV, CM, CF”

  1. Haha. I’d never heard of any of those. Reminds of the first few weeks after I arrived in Korea. I was always hearing about OSTs (Original Sound Tracks) and CFs (Commercial Faces).

  2. Ah, OST was on the list of “Japanese English you can’t use in the US” that I gave to a student here, although–to be fair–you CAN use it with anime fans here, who know it very well (along with “BGM”–background music). I’m going to guess that OST originated in Japan, but I don’t know for sure. CF is totally new to me, though! I get a bunch of hits for it as “commercial film.” Does it mean the same thing as CM (tv ad)?

  3. Yeah, I’ve had Korean students tell me both meanings for CF, but yours makes more sense. I think Korean advertising is pretty heavily influenced by trends in Japan.

  4. hello
    MV=misic video
    PV=promotion video
    CM=commercial
    CF=commercial film
    I didn’t know these words were not used in English.
    They are really Pitfalls!

    People here like to get English word shortened and use it.
    for example,we call Convenience store “Conveni/kon_bi_ni”.hehe

  5. Hi, oxwinter! Thanks for your comment. Yes, they seem like logical abbreviations, right? But they’re just not generally used, although a few people may know them. (For example, if you look in English-speaking J-pop and K-pop online communities, everyone uses those terms. It doesn’t matter if they’re Americans, Canadians, etc.)

    I understand why people say “konbini,” etc. If you say “kon-bi-ni-en-su su-to-a” in Japanese, it’s too long! (It’s a result of turning it into katakana.) In English, it’s only 4 syllables. ;)

    All of this is natural. Words always change when they enter other languages. Japanese speakers shouldn’t feel bad about it; just be careful when they speak English.

    Sometime I’ll write about how English changed the meaning of “hibachi” and the pronunciation of “karaoke”… (English speakers have to be careful when we speak Japanese!)

  6. I can attest to the fact that these are not used in American English.

    A couple other Japanese acronyms I know of: “OL” is short for “Office Lady”. “NG” is short for “No Go” or “No Good”.

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