35 Common SMS Abbreviations

Photo © Russell Ware

Billions of them are sent every day, in hundreds of different languages, but SMS messages can still seem unfathomable to some people. The way people write SMS or text messages has developed and evolved over the years to become almost a different language and, like any language, it can be hard to understand if you are new to it.

Standard SMS messages originally had a limit of 160 characters and, indeed, many still do.

Type more than 160 characters in a SMS message and your phone will automatically start a second message. This will obviously then cost you more money or use up more of your SMS allowance. To compensate for this, and also to increase typing speed, text language has evolved to reduce words to the least possible amount of letters. This reduction can be in the form of a word with letters cut out (usually the vowels), several words turned into an acronym or even numbers substituted for words.

Understanding SMS Language

For cell phone users who are unused to writing like this themselves, reading a text message from someone who uses abbreviations and acronyms can be a difficult task. Even if you don't think you will ever write messages like this, understanding what others may send to you is obviously useful.

Here are 35 of the most common SMS abbreviations and acronyms to help demystify text-speak.

  • 2 = To or Too
  • 4 = For
  • B4 – Before
  • Y = Why
  • R = Are
  • UR = You Are or Your
  • G2G = Got To Go
  • 2NITE = Tonight
  • 2MOR = Tomorrow
  • AFAIK = As Far As I Know
  • K = Ok
  • THX or THNX = Thanks
  • TY = Thank You
  • TXT = Text
  • CU = See You
  • LOL = Laugh Out Loud (also, somewhat confusingly, Lots Of Love)
  • ATM = At The Moment
  • EZ = Easy
  • L8R = Later
  • BF = Boyfriend (also Best Friend)
  • GF = Girlfriend
  • BTW = By The Way
  • GR8 = Great
  • IDK = I Don't Know
  • IMO = In My Opinion
  • JK = Just Kidding
  • M8 = Mate
  • STR8 = Straight
  • H8 = Hate
  • MSG = Message
  • OIC = Oh, I See
  • OMG = Oh My God
  • PLS or PLZ = Please
  • SRY = Sorry
  • YW = You're Welcome

Despite how they have been written here, abbreviations and acronyms in SMS messages are usually typed in lower case. Upper-case letters, much like basic punctuation, are often ignored altogether in SMS messages. The exception to this is when shouting in a message. Typing a message all in capitals, or with specific words in capitals, is usually taken to mean that you are shouting the message.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all of the acronyms and abbreviations used when sending SMS messages. There are literally hundreds more to be discovered, although some are less useful than others and many will never need to be used in normal text conversations. Even using a few of the better known SMS abbreviations can make sending text messages quicker and easier, but there really is nothing wrong with using the correct spelling and grammar when texting.

Laughing Out Loud

LOL, the acronym for Laughing Out Load, is probably one of the most common Internet and SMS slang terms.

Originally, in Internet Relay Chat and other Instant Messaging services, LOL meant Lots Of Love or Lots Of Luck, as well as Laughing Out Loud. Nowadays, in SMS messages at least, it almost always means the latter rather than either of the former phrases. The term is so much a part of modern culture that it now appears in the Oxford English Dictionary, as well as numerous other dictionaries, both online and in print. Amazingly, you may even hear people saying "lol" in face-to-face conversations.

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