What does TANSTAFL stand for?

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch

TANSTAFL is a lengthy acronym that’s used to convey the idea that nothing in life comes entirely for free or without a catch. It’s a reminder to be wary of things that appear too good to be true, as they usually have some hidden cost or disadvantage.

This acronym draws upon the idea of a “free lunch” as an illustration. For instance, if someone were to offer you a free lunch, you might start wondering what they expect in return. The phrase suggests that the person offering the lunch is likely to gain something beneficial from the arrangement.

Interestingly, TANSTAFL has one less “A” compared to a similar acronym, TANSTAAFL. However, both acronyms express the same idea: that there’s always a catch to something that appears to be free. So, whenever you see something labeled as ‘free,’ remember TANSTAFL – there’s no such thing as a free lunch!

Example for using ‘TANSTAFL’ in a conversation

Hey, have you seen that ad for the new streaming service? It says it’s completely free!

Be careful, TANSTAFL!