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Sara Dawson doesn't cuss.

So when the license plate agency in Coffee County, Tenn., issued her a tag with a "WTF" suffix, she couldn't believe what had happened.

The potentially-offensive letter combination is an acronym for a vulgar phrase used widely in online chatting and text messages.

"My close friends know that I would never use the F-word," Ms. Dawson said.

The state sent all 1,000 of the unique tags to Coffee County a year ago, said Sara Jo Houghland, director of communications for the Tennessee Department of Revenue. She said Coffee County officials received "a few complaints," including one at the state's Nashville call center.

The series of characters selected for license plates comes from a computerized database, Ms. Houghland said.

"I don't think anyone had any intentions of putting out a plate that might offend people," she added. "I'm not sure everyone has their mind in the gutter."

The county clerk's office said those who wanted replacement tags were given them.

But some people, like Ms. Dawson, aren't complaining.

"It's almost like the DMV decided to place an inside joke onto my car," Ms. Dawson said. "It honestly doesn't offend me or my family. It's just funny watching people's reactions to it."

In all, Ms. Houghland said only 50 plates remain unused.

Mistakes have happened in the past, however, she said, noting that a Tennessee radio station was once upset because its competitor's call numbers were issued on a series of plates.

In 2008, North Carolina issued nearly 10,000 "WTF" plates to drivers and was forced to offer replacement tags for free.

Shortly after receiving her plate in October, Ms. Dawson snapped photos of it and uploaded the shots to Facebook to prove to friends that she wasn't joking.

Then the comments came. Some asked if it was intentional, but no one took offense to it, she said.

"I've gotten to the point where it's like: Language is arbitrary -- it's just letters on a license plate," she said. "If it's not offending anybody, I'm fine with it. After all, I can find my car in a parking a whole lot easier."

The tag is a "blessing in disguise" because it's easy to remember, she said.

It's also a big incentive for her to be a good driver, she said, noting that it's easy for others to remember the plate as well.

"I prefer to think of it as meaning something else," Ms. Dawson said. "One of my friends says it stands for 'Where's The Fun?'"

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