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 but we still 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 us keystrokes to say TY (thank you) and YW (you're welcome).  The new jargon also conveys spontaneous emotion and personal expressions ('O RLY', 'FML', 'OMG,' 'YWA').

Below you'll find a list of the most common modern text message and chat expressions. All of these expressions may be typed lowercase or uppercase as a matter of personal style.

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Illustration of cellphone texting
Olga Lebedeva/Shutterstock

HMU - Hit Me Up

This acronym is used to say "contact me" or otherwise "reach me to follow up on this". It is a modern shorthand way to invite a person to communicate with you further.

User 1: I could use some advice on buying an iPhone bersus 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!
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FTW = "for the win!"
FTW = "for the win!". Getty

FTW - 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 is an expression of enthusiasm. "FTW" is the same as saying "this is the best" or "this item will make a big difference, I recommend using it"!"
  • e.g. "anti-lock braking, ftw!"
  • e.g. "spellchecker, ftw!"
  • e.g. "low-carb diets, ftw
*In decades past, FTW had a much harsher meaning. Read more about FTW here...
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OMG = 'Oh my god'
OMG = 'Oh my god'. Mieth / Getty

OMG - Oh My God!

Also: AMG - Ah, My God!

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

Example of OMG:

  • (first user:) OMG! My cat just walked across my keyboard and launched my email!
  • (second user:) LOLZ! Maybe kitty is checking on his eBay bids! ROFLMAO!
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WTF = "What the F*ck"?
WTF = "What the F*ck"?. West / Getty

WTF - What the F*ck?

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

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WBU = 'What about you?'
WBU = 'What about you?'. Barwick / Getty

WBU - 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.

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'Props' = 'proper respect and recognition'
'Props' = 'proper respect and recognition'. Barraud / Getty

PROPS - 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 of props usage:

  • (User 1) Props to Suresh! That presentation he gave was really darn 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.
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IDC = 'I don't care'
IDC = 'I don't care'. Brick House / Getty

IDC - I Don't Care

You would use IDC when you are trying to make a decision with your messaging friend, and you are open to multiple options. While IDC is largely an emotion-less term, it can sometimes convey a negative attitude, so it is best to use this expression with friends and not new acquaintances.

e.g. 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?

e.g. User 2: IDC, you pick.

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W/E = 'whatever'
W/E = 'whatever'. Creative / Getty

W/E - 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 any more', 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.

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NSFW = 'not safe for work' viewing
NSFW = 'not safe for work' viewing. Dimitri Otis / Getty

NSFW - 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 users like to forward 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.

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RTFM = 'read the f*cking manual'
RTFM = 'read the f*cking manual'. Fox Pictures / Getty
RTFM - Read the F*cking 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.

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TTT = 'to the top' / 'bump'
TTT = 'to the top' / 'bump'. meme screenshot

TTT - To the Top

Also known as 'Bump'

This abbreviation is used to push an aging conversation thread to the top of the recent list. You would do this to promote a conversation before it gets forgotten.

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'WB' = 'Welcome back!'
'WB' = 'Welcome back!'. Edwards / Getty

WB - Welcome Back

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

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SMH = 'shaking my head'
SMH = 'shaking my head'. Usmani / Getty

SMH - 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.

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BISLY = 'but I still love you!'
BISLY = 'but I still love you!'. Rubber Ball / Getty

BISLY - 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", or "we're still friends", or "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.

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TY = 'Thank You'
TY = 'Thank You'. Lorenz-Palma / Getty

TYVM - Thank You Very Much

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

See also: TY - Thank You

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GTG = 'good to go!'
GTG = 'good to go!'. Skelley / Getty

GTG - We're Good to Go

Also: GTG - 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.

  • e.g. User 1: Did you get the buns and soda pop for the picnic?
  • e.g. User 2: Just need the buns and then GTG.
'LOL' = 'Laughing Out Loud'
'LOL' = 'Laughing Out Loud'. Kuehn / Getty

LOL - Laughing Out Loud

Also: LOLZ - Laughing Out Loud

Also: LAWLZ - Laughing Out Loud (in leetspeak spelling)

Also: PMSL - P*ssing Myself Laughing 

Just like ROFL, LOL is used to express spontaneous humour 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 Ass 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.


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BRB = "be right back"
BRB = "be right back". Getty

BRB - 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:

  • e.g. BRB doorbell
  • e.g. brb dog needs to go out
  • e.g. brb bio
  • e.g. BRB kids made a mess
  • e.g. BRB - stove is dinging
  • e.g. brb someone is on the other line 
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OATUS = 'on a totally unrelated subject'
OATUS = 'on a totally unrelated subject'. Vedfelt / Getty

OATUS - On a Totally Unrelated Subject

"OATUS" is "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 been evolving for several minutes, but you wish to change the direction of the conversation on a whim, often because something just occured to you.

Example of OATUS usage:

  • (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 cell phones and slate 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.
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BBIAB = 'be back in a bit'
BBIAB = 'be back in a bit'. Stock Colors / Getty

BBIAB - Be Back in a Bit (see also: BRB - 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 that 'I won't be responding for a few minutes, as I'm indisposed'.

ROFL = 'rolling on floor laughing'
ROFL = 'rolling on floor laughing'. Pierre / Getty

ROFL - Rolling on Floor, Laughing

Also: ROFLMAO - Rolling on Floor, Laughing My *ss Off

ROFL" is the common acronym jargon expression for laughter. It stands for "Rolling on Floor, Laughing". You will also see variations like LOL (Laughing Out Loud), and ROFLMAO (Rolling on Floor, Laugh My *ss Off).
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WTB = 'want to buy'
WTB = 'want to buy'. Jamie Grill / Getty

WTB - Want to Buy

Also: WTT - Want to Trade

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

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O RLY - Oh, Really?

"O RLY", ("oh really") is a slang response to express sarcastic doubt, dismay, or incredulity to another online user. You would 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, so 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.



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RL = 'real life'
RL = 'real life'. GCShutter / Getty

RL - Real Life

Also: IRL - 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.

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NVM = 'never mind' / 'disregard that'
NVM = 'never mind' / 'disregard that'. I Love Images / Getty

NVM - Never Mind

Also: NM - Never Mind

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

Example of NVM usage:


  • (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!
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BFF = 'best friends, forever'
BFF = 'best friends, forever'. Fuse / Getty

BFF - Best Friends, Forever

BFF is a form of written digital affection in the 21st century. BFF is commonly used as an adolescent expression by tweenage 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 into an email or instant message.

BFF has multiple related abbreviations:
  • BF (Boyfriend)
  • GF (Girlfriend)

Other common abbreviations used in online messaging include:

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IIRC = 'if I recall correctly'
IIRC = 'if I recall correctly'. Chris Ryan / Getty

IIRC - 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 your facts.
e.g. User: Wikileaks is about government whistleblowers, iirc.
e.g. User: IIRC, you can't submit your taxes online without a special code you get in the post.
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WRT = 'with respect to'
WRT = 'with respect to'. Lovric / Getty

WRT - With Respect to

Also: IRT - In Regards to

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

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OTOH = 'on the other hand'
OTOH = 'on the other hand'. Bradbury / Getty

OTOH - On the Other Hand

"OTOH" is the slang acronym for "On the Other Hand". It 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 of OTOH usage:

  • (first user:) I think you should buy that new i7 computer. Your current machine sucks.
  • (second user:) My wife would kill me if I spent 2 grand on a new computer.
  • (second user, again:) OTOH, she might like a faster machine in the house, if I can get her that interior design software to go with it.
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ASL = 'your age, sex, and location?'
ASL = 'your age, sex, and location?'. Pekic / Getty

ASL = Question: Your Age / Sex / 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 significant subtext when someone asks you ASL.  Definitely read more about the implications of ASL here.

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WUT = 'what'

Wut is the modern jargon spelling for 'what'. In the same way that you would use 'what' in daily conversation, 'wut' can now 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 of wut as a written expression:

  • 'wut is wrong with u? u dont return my calls'
  • 'wut do u wanna do tonite?'
  • 'i dont know wuts up with her. shes been like that all week'
  • 'idc wut we do, as long as it involvs beer'
  • 'wuts up shawty?'
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IMHO = 'in my humble opinion'
IMHO = 'in my humble opinion'. Image Bank / Getty

IMHO - In My Humble Opinion

Also: JMHO - Just My Humble Opinion

Also: IMO - In My Opinion

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

e.g. User 1:  IMHO, you should the smaller car in silver instead of red.

e.g. User 2: A lot of people think she's a flake, but IMHO, Lady Gaga is a very talented performer who delivers a catchy product.

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PFMJI = 'pardon me for jumping in'
PFMJI = 'pardon me for jumping in'. PeopleImages / Getty

PMFJI - Pardon Me for Jumping in

Also: PMJI - Pardon My Jumping In

"PMFJI" is "Pardon Me for Jumping In". This is internet shorthand for politely entering a conversation. PMFJI is commonly used when you are in a common chat channel with several other 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. 


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YMMV = 'Your Mileage May Vary'
YMMV = 'Your Mileage May Vary'. Baldwin / Getty

YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary

This expression is used to say 'the results are different for everyone'.

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MEGO = 'my eyes glaze over'
MEGO = 'my eyes glaze over'. Pelaez / Getty

My Eyes Glaze Over

MEGO" is the slang acronym for "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 of MEGO usage:

  • (first user:) 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.
  • (second user:) dear god man. M E G O!
  • (third user:) ROFL! MEGO is right!
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'Crickets' = 'silence, why is no one responding to me?'
'Crickets' = 'silence, why is no one responding to me?'. Science Photo Library / Getty

'Crickets' (often spelled as '') is a stylistic way to say 'why is no one responding to me here in chat?'.

You would use this expression when you are in game chat or an online forum, and you've asked a question but have not heard a response yet.

Example of Crickets:

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