What Does ROFL Mean?

How to understand and use this abbreviation

If you've ever seen the letters ROFL in a text message or chat room, the internet acronym stands for "rolling on the floor laughing." If someone types ROFL, it means they found something incredibly funny. Other acronyms that denote laughter include ROFLMAO ("rolling on floor, laughing my a** off) and LOL ("laughing out loud). Like most internet jargon, the expression is not suitable for initial business dealings. ROFL is best used in personal texting, email, online chatting, or in special circumstances where a business acquaintance has become a friend.

An illustration of how 'ROFL' is used shown the screen of a mobile define.
Lifewire / Nusha Ashjaee

Both uppercase and lowercase versions of ROFL (rofl) mean the same thing and are perfectly acceptable.

When texting or communicating online, be careful not to type entire sentences in uppercase, as this conveys shouting and is considered rude.

Examples of ROFL Usage

Example 1:

  • (User 1) Oh, man, my boss just came to my cubicle. I was so embarrassed because I had my favorite gossip magazine open on my screen.
  • (User 2) ROFL! Did you cover the screen? LOL!​
  • (User 1) I didn't have time! I just nodded thoughtfully and tried to look businesslike. ROFL!

Example 2:

  • (User 1) Haha! I've got a good one. ROFL!
  • (User 2) What?
  • (User 1) Did you hear about the new corduroy pillows? They’re making headlines everywhere!
  • (User 2) ROFL! BWAHAHA

Origins of the Modern ROFL Expression

ROFL likely developed on the heels of LOL and its variant LMAO ("laughing my a** off"). LOL has been around a while, even predating the World Wide Web. The acronym was found on early internet sites in UseNet and Telnet. 

The ROFL expression, like LOL, LMAO, and many other online expressions and web lingo, is part of online conversation culture. Unusual and customized language is a way for people to build more cultural identity through speech and playful conversation.

Expressions Similar to ROFL

  • PMSL (P*ssing Myself Laughing)
  • ROFLMAO (Rolling on Floor Laughing My A** Off)
  • ROFLCOPTER (Rolling on Floor Laughing, Turning Like a Helicopter)
  • LULZ (variation of Laughing Out Loud)
  • LOL (Laughing Out Loud)
  • LMAO (Laughing My A** Off)
  • LULZ (Laughing Out Loud variant)
  • BWAHAHA (Boisterous laughter)
  • MWAHAHA (Mimicking vigorous laughter)

Capitalizing and Punctuating Web and Text Abbreviations

Capitalization is a non-concern when using text abbreviations and chat jargon. Use all uppercase (ROFL) or all lowercase (rofl) letters and the meaning is identical.

Proper punctuation is similarly a non-concern with most text message abbreviations. For example, the abbreviation for "too long, didn't read" can be TL;DR or TLDR. Both are acceptable.

Never use periods (dots) between your acronym letters; it would defeat the purpose of being a shortcut. For example, ROFL would never be spelled R.O.F.L., and TTYL ("talk to you later") would never be T.T.Y.L. 

Recommended Etiquette for Web and Text Jargon 

When tempted to use jargon in messages, evaluate who your audience is, if the context is informal or professional, and then use good judgment. If you know someone well and it is a personal and informal communication, then absolutely use abbreviations. On the flip side, if you are just starting a friendship or professional relationship, avoid abbreviations until you've developed a relationship rapport.

If messaging in a professional context with someone at work, or with a customer or vendor outside your company, avoid abbreviations altogether. Spelling out full words shows professionalism and courtesy. It is much smarter to err on the side of being too professional at first, and then relax your communication over time organically.