What phrases are for "noun + anonymous"?

I've already found

  • smokers anonymous
  • alcoholics anonymous

Are they always used for places where people go to quit using something, or have other meanings?

  • The groups that are called noun + anonymous are probably using the same methodology for helping people to quit. Some of them even have direct associations (Smokers Anonymous started by Alcholics Anonymous members.) This is more a cultural thing than an English language thing.
    – Kai
    Oct 22, 2014 at 17:21
  • @Kai , @DanGetz , smokers anonymous is in the picture of one of proverbs in 101 English proverbs and I just wondered what it is.
    – Rash
    Oct 22, 2014 at 17:23
  • @DanGetz could you please make that into an answer so that Kamtal can accept it? Oct 31, 2014 at 18:29

2 Answers 2


Those are both names of organizations. There are many organizations with names that follow that pattern. The first was Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which is an organization to help alcoholics quit (and stay off of) alcohol. Other self-help organizations probably used similar names to draw parallels with AA. Many of these also use much of the same philosophy or methods, such as the "Twelve Steps". There's a list of such groups on this Wikipedia page. Some other examples from that page:

  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Heroin Anonymous
  • Overeaters Anonymous
  • Workaholics Anonymous
  • Online Gamers Anonymous

The phrase "alcoholics anonymous" literally means "anonymous alcoholics", that is, "alcoholics who are anonymous". In that phrase the adjective "anonymous" is used as a post-positive adjective. More information about these can be found in this Wikipedia page and this question.


These are names of particular groups, i.e. they are proper nouns, and are capitalised, as in "Alcoholics Anonymous" (AA).

The original group of this type was "Alcoholics Anonymous". This group was based around several key principals: only self-identified alcohols may join such a group; members retain anonymity, they only disclose first names; they hold meetings which have a particular format, somewhat like a group confessional; the members agree to follow a 12-step programme under the guidance and coaching of a sponsor.

The way of running such a group is formalised in the "The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous" (link)

There are now many such groups, each extending the model (or a variation of it) to a new and different area of addictive or compulsive behaviour.

e.g. Gamblers Anonymous; Narcotics Anonymous; etc

There is a whole list of such groups at Wikipedia's "List of twelve-step groups" (link)

They are all examples of "support groups".

One of AA's key steps is to surrender yourself to a higher power. For some, this can be incompatible with personal beliefs, and there are many support groups (link) which have similar aims and objectives but which have a different approach to achieving them.

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