To some extent, the list of one's preferred metasyntactic variables is a cultural signature. They occur both in series (used for related groups of variables or objects) and as singletons. Here are a few common signatures:
foo, bar, baz, quux, quuux, quuuux...: MIT/Stanford usage, now found everywhere (thanks largely to early versions of this lexicon!). At MIT (but not at Stanford), baz dropped out of use for a while in the 1970s and '80s. A common recent mutation of this sequence inserts qux before quux. bazola, ztesch: Stanford (from mid-'70s on). foo, bar, thud, grunt: This series was popular at CMU. Other CMU-associated variables include gorp. foo, bar, fum: This series is reported to be common at XEROX PARC. fred, barney: See the entry for fred. These tend to be Britishisms. corge, grault, flarp: Popular at Rutgers University and among GOSMACS hackers. zxc, spqr, wombat: Cambridge University (England). shme Berkeley, GeoWorks, Ingres. Pronounced /shme/ with a short /e/. snork Brown University, early 1970s. foo, bar, zot Helsinki University of Technology, Finland. blarg, wibble New Zealand. toto, titi, tata, tutu France. pippo, pluto, paperino Italy. Pippo /pee'po/ and Paperino /pa-per-ee'-no/ are the Italian names for Goofy and Donald Duck. aap, noot, mies The Netherlands. These are the first words a child used to learn to spell on a Dutch spelling board.Of all these, only `foo' and `bar' are universal (and baz nearly so). The compounds foobar and `foobaz' also enjoy very wide currency.
Some jargon terms are also used as metasyntactic names; barf and mumble, for example. See also Commonwealth Hackish for discussion of numerous metasyntactic variables found in Great Britain and the Commonwealth.