TARFU is a close relative of acronyms like SNAFU, FUBAR, and many others. It stands for "things are really fucked up", and like its similarly foul-mouthed cousins, it originated with soldiers in World War II.

In polite company, the F is claimed to stand for "fouled", rather than "fucked". Although why you'd feel the need to use an acronym for "things are really fouled up" is beyond me.

Ernie Pyle, "Brave Men", 1944 - The colonel had a coal-black Labrador retriever named Tarfu. That's one of those mystic military names which you'll have to get somebody else to explain to you".
James Gould Cozzens, "Guard Of Honour", 1948 - "On the side of the plane's black nose, spiritedly sketched in dark and red paint, was a cavorting skeleton who carried a nude woman. Winder it, in fancy letters, were the words: Tarfu Tessie".

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