What Is the Expression 'ASL'?

ASL is a request for Age, Sex, and Location in online communications

If you ever participate in a discussion forum online or strike up a conversation in an anonymous chatroom, you might be encountered with one or more participants sending you private messages with the acronym ASL. What does ASL stand for?  

ASL Stands for:

Age, Sex, Location

How ASL Is Used

Illustration of a phone with
Nusha Ashjaee / Lifewire

A/S/L or ASL is shorthand for asking, "what is your age/sex/location?" This type of abrupt question is common in online chat forums when someone new joins. ASL is an expression that regular chat users employ to identify whether a new user is a man or woman, and if that person is in their age range or vicinity. They might also ask, "ASL? Pic?" asking for your picture along with the information.

When someone asks you this question, you don't have to reply, but a nonspecific answer is friendly and appropriate as long as it doesn't give away any personal information. When people use ASL, it is sometimes a precursor to sexual advances. The inquirer is trying to assess you as a potential object of flirtation.

A/S/L, ASL, asl, and a/s/l all mean the same thing.

Examples of A/S/L in Use

Example 1

User 1: Hi, everyone! I'm new here to the forum and am looking to meet more people who are fans of "The Tudors" show.

User 2:  Fresh meat! A/S/L?

User 1: Dream on, perv! I'm 43/athletic woman/work with your parents. Good enough?

Example 2

User 1: Greetings, forum dwellers. I'm a longtime lurker, new to posting. I drive a 2014 VW GTI and am interested in getting advice on how to customize the suspension and possibly get stage 1 ECU tuning.

User 2: Welcome aboard. What is your ASL? Are you a serious driver looking to invest a lot of cash.

User 1: I'm 24, male, and live in Ontario. I have about $4000 I'm willing to put into the car, but I want to make sure not to void the manufacturer's warranty.

Recommended Responses to ASL to Deter Advances 

Be as truthful as you can be while still being firm and clear. Do not give clues to your real-life identity or specific location.

For example, a dangerous response is:

"27/female/Millcreek in Denver," as this discloses regional information about your location

A better response doesn't reveal any details that invite extra attention and ideally uses humor:

"Old enough to know you're rude/ married female/Colorado."

"31/married male/Ontario."

"Older than I look/dude/North America."

The ASL expression, like many other Internet expressions, is part of online conversation culture. As with any human group behavior, speech and language expressions are used to build cultural identity through customized language and unique conversational expressions.

If someone persists in questioning you about who you are, where you live, and other personal details, the person could be an internet troll. Try to avoid the inquisitor and don't give your personal information out.