Glossary of Common Texting Abbreviations and Web Jargon

A dictionary of modern text message terms

Today, it's all about the handheld internet. Our messages need to be short and thumb-friendly for typing. Messages also need to pack in meaningful information along with the baseline ingredients of courtesy and etiquette.

Hundreds of bizarre jargon expressions have spawned as a result. Primarily about shorthand, the new jargon saves keystrokes to say THNX or TY (thank you) and YW (you're welcome). The new jargon also conveys spontaneous emotion and personal expressions (O RLY, FML, ISTG, OMG, YWA, OFC).

Here's a list of common modern text message and chat expressions. These expressions may be typed lowercase or uppercase as a matter of personal style.

01
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HMU

Cell phone texting

Olga Lebedeva / Shutterstock

HMU means Hit Me Up

This acronym is used to say, "Contact me" or otherwise "Reach me to follow up on this." It's a modern shorthand way to invite a person to communicate with you further.

Example

User 1: I could use some advice on buying an iPhone versus buying an Android phone.

User 2: Hmm, I read a great article on comparing those two exact phones. I have the link somewhere.

User 1: Perfect, HMU! Send that link when you can!

02
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FTW

Hand hoisting trophy with cloudy sky and sun shining through behind

Nednapa Chumjumpa / EyeEm / Getty Images

FTW means For the Win

FTW is an internet expression of enthusiasm. While there were nastier meanings in previous years, FTW today commonly stands for For the Win. It expresses enthusiasm. FTW is the same as saying, "This is the best" or "This item will make a big difference; I recommend using it!"

Example

  • Anti-lock braking, ftw!
  • Spellchecker, ftw!
  • Low-carb diets, ftw

In decades past, FTW had a much harsher meaning.

03
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OMG (AMG)

Close up of 'OMG' text in speech bubble

Jacquie Boyd / Getty Images

OMG means Oh My God!

An alternate is AMG, which means Ah, My God!

OMG, just like O Gawd is a common expression for shock or surprise.

Example

User 1: OMG! My cat just walked across my keyboard and launched my email!

User 2: LOLZ! Maybe kitty is checking on his eBay bids! ROFLMAO!

04
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WTF

'WTF' on a keyboard

West / Getty Images

WTF means What the &$#!?

This is a blunt expression of shock and concerned confusion. Somewhat like OMG, WTF is used when an alarming event occurs, or some unexpected and disturbing news was conveyed.

05
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WBU

Two women sitting at desk, talking

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WBU means What About You?

This expression is used in personal conversations where the two parties are well acquainted. This expression is commonly used to ask for the other person's opinion or to check for their comfort level with the situation.

06
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PROPS

Man in conference room receiving applause from coworkers

Barraud / Getty Images

PROPS means Proper Respect and Acknowledgement

Props is a jargon way to say proper recognition or proper respect due. Props is commonly used with the prepositional phrase "to (someone)." As a stylish way to acknowledge someone's skill or achievement, props has become quite common in modern text and email conversations. 

Example

User 1: Props to Suresh! That presentation he gave was really good.

User 2: Mhm, big props to Suresh, for sure. He blew away all the other presenters at the conference. He put lots of work into that, and it really showed this weekend.

07
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IDC

Child shrugging

Andrew Rich / Getty Images

IDC means I Don't Care

Use IDC when you're trying to make a decision with your messaging friend, and you are open to multiple options. While IDC is largely an emotionless term, it can sometimes convey a negative attitude. It's best to use this expression with friends and not new acquaintances.

Example

User 1: We can meet at the mall first, then head to the movie in one car, or we all meet in front of the movie ticket box. Wut would you like?

User 2: IDC, you pick.

08
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W/E

Person wearing 'WHATEVER' shirt next to keyboard

Daryl Rubio / EyeEm / Getty Images

W/E means Whatever

W/E is a dismissive and passive-aggressive expression, often used as a rude way to diminish someone's comment. It is a way of saying, "I'm not interested in arguing this point anymore," or "I disagree, but I don't care enough to make an issue of it." Like most things passive-aggressive, this expression is a form of sugar-coated hostility.

09
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NSFW

Group of coworkers gathered around a computer

Dimitri Otis / Getty Images

NSFW means Not Safe for Work Viewing

It is used to warn the recipient to not open the message at the office or near young children because the message contains sexual or repulsive content. Commonly, NSFW is used when someone forwards lewd jokes or crude videos to their friends. Considering that millions of people read their personal email at work, the NSFW warning is helpful in saving people potential embarrassment with their coworkers or supervisor.

10
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RTFM

Early baseball players gathered, yelling

Fox Pictures / Getty Images

RTFM means Read the &@#$%^! Manual

This is a harsh and impatient response that says, "Your question could easily be answered by basic working knowledge or by reading the documented instructions."

You will see RTFM used in discussion forums, online gaming, and in office email conversations. In almost all cases, the usage will be from a mean-spirited veteran who is mocking someone for asking a basic question.

In some cases, however, the person in question will deserve the hostility if their question is so basic that it demonstrates incompetence.

11
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TTT

'BUMP' sign

Nathan Griffith / Getty Images

TTT means To the Top (also known as Bump)

This abbreviation is used to push an aging conversation thread to the top of the recent list. This promotes a conversation before it gets forgotten.

12
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WB

A grandparent embracing a child's shoulder, smiling

Edwards / Getty Images

WB means Welcome Back

This pleasant expression is common in online communities (for example, MMO gaming), or in regular IM conversations at people's work desks. When a person types back to announce their return to the computer or phone, the other party types WB to greet the person.

13
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SMH

Person in disbelief holding phone receiver

Usmani / Getty Images

SMH means Shaking My Head

SMH is used to show disbelief at someone's stupidity or bad decision. It's a way to pass judgment on other people's actions.

14
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BISLY

A plane writes

DigitalVision / Image Source / Getty Images

BISLY means But I Still Love You

This slang acronym is used as playful affection, often during online arguments or debates. It can be used to mean:

  • No hard feelings.
  • We're still friends.
  • I don't like what you just said, but I won't hold it against you.

BISLY is commonly used between people who are familiar with each other.

15
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TYVM

'THANK YOU' in windows of building

Lorenz-Palma / Getty Images

TYVM means Thank You Very Much

An alternate is TY, which means Thank You.

This is a form of common courtesy, shortened to four letters.

16
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GTG

Family walking to car

Skelley / Getty Images

GTG means Good to Go

An alternate is GTG, which means I've Got to Go.

GTG is a way of saying, "I'm ready" or "We're ready." It is common when messaging to organize a group event, and everything is in order.

Example

User 1: Did you get the buns and soda pop for the picnic?

User 2: Just need the buns and then GTG.

17
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LOL (LOLZ, LAWLZ)

LOL

bgblue / Getty Images

LOL means Laughing Out Loud

Alternates are:

  • LOLZ, which means Laughing Out Loud.
  • LAWLZ, which means Laughing Out Loud (in leetspeak spelling).
  • PMSL, which means &$#@%^! Myself Laughing.

Just like ROFL, LOL is used to express spontaneous humor and laughter. It is perhaps the most common text message expression in usage today.

You will also see variations like LOLZ (a version of LOL), ROFL (Rolling on Floor Laughing), and ROFLMAO (Rolling on Floor, Laugh My &#! Off). In the United Kingdom, PMSL is also a popular version of LOL.

LOL and LOLZ are often spelled all uppercase, but can also be spelled "lol" or "lolz." Both versions mean the same thing. Just be careful not to type entire sentences in uppercase, as that is considered rude shouting.

18
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BRB

Chemistry Cat meme

Memebase.com

BRB means Be Right Back

This is a sister expression to bio and afk. BRB means that you need to leave the phone or computer for a few minutes but will return quickly. BRB is often combined with some kind of quick description of why you are stepping away, for example:

  • BRB doorbell.
  • brb dog needs to go out.
  • brb bio.
  • BRB kids made a mess.
  • BRB - stove is dinging.
  • brb someone is on the other line.
19
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OATUS

Conference atendee raising hand in group of people sitting for presentation

Vedfelt / Getty Images

OATUS means On a Totally Unrelated Subject

This is internet shorthand for changing the topic of conversation. OATUS is commonly used in online chatting, where a current conversation topic has been evolving for several minutes, but you wish to change the direction of the conversation on a whim, often because something just occurred to you.

Example

User 1: I don't care what Steve Jobs says, Apple is hardware-locking us *and* they refuse to acknowledge that we want to have Flash and USB ports.

User 2: Yeah, but Apple still makes the best cellphones and tablets. And you can get hardware to give you USB ports.

User 3: Guys, OATUS: I need some help with my Firefox.

User 2: Is something wrong with your Firefox?

User 3: Unsure. It keeps giving me an error message when I try to log into my Hotmail.

20
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BBIAB

Commuter waving to train at station

Stock Colors / Getty Images

BBIAB means Be Back in a Bit

An alternate is BRB, which means Be Right Back.

BBIAB is another way of saying AFK (away from keyboard). This is a polite expression that users employ to say they are moving away from their computers for a few minutes. In the context of a conversation, it is a polite way to say, "I won't be responding for a few minutes, as I'm indisposed."

21
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ROFL (ROFLMAO)

Person lying on couch looking at laptop, laughing

Pierre / Getty Images

ROFL means Rolling on Floor, Laughing

ROFL is the common acronym jargon expression for laughter. It stands for Rolling on Floor, Laughing. You'll also see variations like LOL (Laughing Out Loud) and ROFLMAO (Rolling on Floor, Laugh My &#! Off).

22
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WTB (WTT)

Person holding a phone in one hand and credit card in the other

Jamie Grill / Getty Images

WTB means Want to Buy

An alternate is WTT, which means Want to Trade.

This is a joking expression, commonly used to jibe or tease someone. "WTB non-lazy office workers" is a joking way to tell colleagues that they are slackers. "WTB a life" is a self-effacing way to say, "I'm unhappy."

23
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O RLY

Wooden doll with a surprised face sporting a top hat and mustache

Chris Montcalmo / Getty Images

O RLY means Oh, Really?

O RLY is a slang response to express sarcastic doubt, dismay, or incredulity to another online user. Use this expression when someone else makes a questionable statement or false claim, and you wish to make a snarky response to their obvious mistruth.

Similar expressions to O RLY are NO WAI! (no way!) and YA RLY (yeah, really).

O RLY is often spelled all uppercase, but can be also spelled "O Rly" or "o rly." All versions mean the same thing. Just be careful not to type entire sentences in uppercase, as that is considered rude shouting.

While the use of O RLY does have a humor element, it is inherently a negative expression. Be careful not to use this expression too often, lest you become known as an online troll (provoker of negative energy). Use this expression sparingly, and only when another online user makes a claim that is blatantly false or untrue, and you can easily prove so.

24
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RL

Person taking VR set off of a friend's head

GCShutter / Getty Images

RL means Real Life

An alternate is IRL, which means In Real Life.

RL and IRL are used to reference one's life outside of the conversation. For computer chat and email, RL refers to life away from the computer, and this expression adds a humorous flavor to the description.

25
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NVM

Illustration of man with back on fire waving with discontent

id-work / Getty Images

NVM means Never Mind

An alternate is NM, which means Never Mind.

This acronym is used to say, "Please disregard my last question or comment," commonly because the user found the answer seconds after posting the original question.

Example

User 1: Hey, how do I change my phone to show your photo when you call?

User 2: Did you look in the contact list settings?

User 1: nvm, I found it! It was on the last screen!

26
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BFF

Two friends in knit caps smiling together

Fuse / Getty Images

BFF means Best Friends, Forever

BFF is a form of written digital affection in the 21st century. BFF is commonly used as an adolescent expression by tween-age girls to express camaraderie. BFF is also used by males to make fun of this primarily-female expression. This expression is used both in uppercase or lowercase format when typed in an email or instant message.

BFF has multiple related abbreviations:

  • BF (Boyfriend)
  • GF (Girlfriend)

Other common abbreviations used in online messaging include:

27
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IIRC

Person in glasses rubbing chin

Chris Ryan / Getty Images

IIRC means If I Recall Correctly

IIRC is used when answering a question that you are unsure of, or when you want to make a pointed suggestion where you are uncertain about the facts.

Examples

  • Wikileaks is about government whistleblowers, iirc.
  • IIRC, you can't submit your taxes online without a special code you get in the post.
28
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WRT

Two people looking over paperwork at a desk

Lovric / Getty Images

WRT means With Respect to

An alternate is IRT, which means In Regards To.

WRT is used to make a reference to a specific topic under discussion. It is especially helpful when the conversation is moving in different directions, and the person wants to focus on one portion of the subject.

29
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OTOH

Woman in glasses looking up thinking, resting a pen on her chin

Bradbury / Getty Images

OTOH means On the Other Hand

OTOH is used when a person wants to list items on both sides of an argument.

OTOH is often spelled all uppercase, but can be also spelled "otoh." All versions mean the same thing. Just be careful not to type entire sentences in uppercase, as that is considered rude shouting.

Example

User 1: I think you should buy that new i7 computer. Your current machine sucks.

User 2: My wife would kill me if I spent 2 grand on a new computer.

User 2: OTOH, she might like a faster machine in the house, if I can get her that interior design software to go with it.

30
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ASL

Person in bed texting on phone

Pekic / Getty Images

ASL is a question that asks your age, sex, and location

ASL is an abrupt question that is common in online chat environments. It is how regular users try to bluntly identify if you are a man or woman and if you are in their age range.

A/S/L is often spelled as lowercase "a/s/l" or "asl" for ease of typing. The uppercase and lowercase versions mean the same thing.

There is a significant subtext when someone asks, "ASL?"

31
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WUT

Person looking at the camera confused

Compassionate Eye Foundation / David Oxberry / Getty Images

WUT means what

WUT is the modern jargon spelling for "what." In the same way that you would use "what" in daily conversation, WUT can replace it for informal text messaging and chat. You can use WUT as a question, or as the subject of phrase action. Yes, this word makes English teachers cringe.

Examples

  • wut is wrong with u? u dont return my calls.
  • wut do u wanna do tonite?
  • i dont know wuts up with her. she's been like that all week.
  • idc wut we do, as long as it involves food.
  • wuts up shawty?
32
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IMHO (IMO)

Warren Buffett speaking with hands

Paul Morigi / Getty Images

IMHO means In My Humble Opinion

Alternates are

  • JMHO, which means Just My Humble Opinion.
  • IMO, which means In My Opinion.

IMHO is used to demonstrate humility while simultaneously making a suggestion or posing an argument in an online conversation. IMHO is also spelled in all lowercase as "imho."

Examples

  • IMHO, you should get the smaller car in silver instead of red.
  • A lot of people think she's a flake, but IMHO, Lady Gaga is a very talented performer who delivers a catchy product.
33
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PMFJI

Group in conference room, woman talking and pointing

PeopleImages / Getty Images

PMFJI means Pardon Me for Jumping in

An alternate is PMJI, which means Pardon My Jumping In.

This is the internet shorthand for politely entering a conversation. PMFJI is commonly used when you are in a common chat channel with several people, and you wish to politely add to a conversation that started taking place without you.

PMFJI can be spelled in all lowercase or all uppercase; both versions mean the same thing. Just be careful not to type entire sentences in all uppercase, lest you be accused of shouting online.

34
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YMMV

Cars driving around speedometer

Baldwin / Getty Images

YMMV means Your Mileage May Vary

This expression is used to say, "The results are different for everyone."

35
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MEGO

Group of people bored, sitting at a work table

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MEGO means My Eyes Glaze Over

It is a jargon way of saying, "This is really boring" or "This is way too technical for anyone to really care."

Example

User 1: No, because the game uses a two-roll system, the crit rating does factor with hit rating on an (X + Y)*% uptime basis. You will need to divide that over the entire time of combat, allowing for the proc per minute average of 6 seconds every 60 seconds.

User 2: Oh, man. MEGO!

User 3: ROFL! MEGO is right!

36
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Crickets

Cricket

Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Crickets is a stylistic way to say, "why is no one responding to me here in chat?" Use this expression when you are in a game chat or an online forum, and you've asked a question but haven't heard a response.

Example

User 1: Hey, I could use help. I don't know where to go to turn this quest in near the Stormheim flight path

(silence for 3 minutes)

User 1: *crickets*

User 2: Sorry, wasn't reading guild chat. I think you turn that in back in Dalaran, not in Stormheim.