Ohio calls them personalized plates. Typically, they’re referred to as vanity plates. These plates serve as moving message boards for those who pay an extra $35 to register one each year. From A to Z, you never know what you might come across.

A Priest, Cowboy, Rabbi and Foxymom come to a four-way stop at the same time. Who has the right of way?

There’s no punch line for that setup. It really can happen in Ohio, where 401,543 vehicles with vanity license plates, including those above, drive the state’s roads. In fact, drivers, you’re so vain, that personalized plates remain a $13.5 million a year money maker for the state, even in this down economy.

These plates serve as moving message boards for those who pay an extra $35 to register one each year.

Arranging four to seven characters (letters and/or numerals) into unique plate monikers makes the combination of choices seemingly endless. On them, drivers spout political preferences, support their teams, spread the word of God, preach virtues of professions, adore and admire rock stars, strut their stuff or simply puzzle tailgaters who try to translate sometimes convoluted meanings.

In providing a list of all those issued in 2008 and 2009, the state couldn’t separate vanity plates by the county in which they were issued. However, Stark County clearly has its fair share. Though it can’t be verified, who else but a Massillon Tigers fan would order a plate with 1OBIE1? Who else but a local resident would ride around with plates that read CANTON or CANTONO?

What’s written on Ohio drivers’ vanity plates?

Here’s a peek at a few, arranged into make-believe categories:

Literary — OTHELLO, SHKSPRE, HUCKFIN, HRYPTTR

Children’s TV — SCOOBY, RUGRATS, WIGGLES

Sexual — VIXEN, GIGOLO, XRATED, ZSXYLPN, VIRGIN

Proud — NO1GEEK, ZCHAMP, THEDIVA, LUKATME

Retro — BEEGEES, DEVO, FONZIE, PURPHAZ, TWIGGY, PKFLOYD

Causes — AUTISM, IM4PBS

Insulting — URAGEEK, TUFFLUCK, IH8LIBS, IH8MYEX, U2FAT

Uplifting — YESUCAN, YBEMAD, THX42DA, NJOYLIF

Pharmaceutical — PROZAK, XANAX, ALLEGRA

Technological — WWWDOT, WEBSITE, JPGMEG

“We try to err on the side of balance,” said Lindsey Wayt Bohrer, a spokesman for the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. “We try to limit profanity, but on the other side is freedom of speech.”

A BMV committee meets every work morning to review the previous day’s requests from around the state.

It operates with a handbook of words that are automatic no-no. It also must reject any that contain profanity or sexual explicitness, any that could provoke a violent response or any that advocate immediate lawlessness. In the last year, the committee rejected 894 vanity plate applications.

In addition, Bohrer said members scour the Internet for everything from urban slang to pig Latin to make sure a wise driver isn’t trying to sneak one past them.

They can get raunchy, though.

Here’s a few we can print that got through in the last two years: ADULTOY, BIGRL, CPL4FUN, MEN4MEN, STRPTSE and DRTYWHR.

Even a seemingly clean expression can have a double meaning. A plate that reads TRYTOFU can be translated to “Try tofu,” but if you read it as four words, it’s something else.

On the flip side, vanity plates can get religious too.

A sampling includes: YOJESUS, YNOTGOD, JESUS, LVJESUS, MYLORD, PLSPRAY, SAVIOR and WER4GOD.

The plates also are a popular location to place citations of scripture, such as Psalms1. Among the most issued are Psalms, Proverbs and Luke, followed by a variety of numerical verses.

Nearly all identical letter combinations, such as ZZZZZZZ, UUUUU or OOOO, have already been claimed by someone, who can continue to renew the same plate every year for the extra $35.



VANITY QUIZ

Decipher the message or meaning of these following vanity plates. Answers appear at the bottom.

1. YADDAX3

2. TYQNDOE

3. U4EYA

4. UCIMB4U

5. SODAJRK

6. RSTYH2O

7. OYLBURNER

8. NOSUP4U

9. NOAHARC

10. NOMAS

11. NO4N4ME

12. N2RLST8

13. L8TRG8TR

14. FISK72

15. EZR4U2C

1. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda (Seinfeld-ism) 2. Taekwondo 3. Euphoria 4. You see, I’m before you. 5. Soda jerk 6. Rusty water 7. Oil burner 8. No soup for you (Seinfeld-ism) 9. Noah’s Arc 10 . No mas (Boxer Roberto Duran) 11. No foreign for me 12. In to real estate 13. Later gator 14. Baseball Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk wore #72 15. Easier for you to see.

VANITY A to Z

Examples of some vanity plates on the road, with their possible meaning:

ABCDEFG        The easiest to remember

BUTHEAD        Enough said

CPL4FUN        A married couple who enjoys Monopoly?

DN8BLD        Donate blood

EXODUS1        “Now these are the names of the children of Israel ... “ (See Bible)

FEETLVR        A podiatrist, or someone with a fetish

GZUNHT        Gesundheit, for a person who sneezed

HICUBYE        Hi, see you, bye

IMSADAM        Saddam Hussein’s evil twin

JINKIES        Phrase frequently uttered by Velma, of Scooby-Doo fame

KDS4SAL        Someone who wants to sell their children

LICENSE        Subtle humor

M8S4EVR        A married couple who doesn’t socialize with CPL4FUN

NITEFVR        A plate left over from the 1970s

OSU2OT        A Buckeyes fan still celebrating 2003 national title game win

PL8S4ME        Master of the obvious

QQQQQQQ    QQQQQQQ

RONPAUL        The man who will never be president

SATCHMO        Nickname of legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong

THEDORK        He asked for it

UNIT93        Homage to United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001

VADER        A Star Wars fan of Darth Vader

WIPLASH        Driver who fears being rear-ended

XTRVERT        Extrovert

YWHYNOT        Why? Why not.

ZEPPFAN        Fan of rock legends, Led Zeppelin