What is ROFL in Texting/Messaging?

An illustration of how 'ROFL' is used shown the screen of a mobile define.

Nusha Ashjaee ©Lifewire 

'ROFL' is a common text abbreviation or slang used as an expression for laughter. It stands for 'Rolling on Floor, Laughing.'


  • 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)

'ROFL' is often spelled all uppercase, but can also be spelled 'rofl'. Both versions mean the same thing. Just be careful not to type entire sentences in uppercase, as that is considered rude shouting.


(first user:) Oh, man, my boss just came to my cubicle. I was so embarrassed for him because his fly was open, and I didn't have the courage to tell him.

(second user:) ROFL! You mean he just talked to you with his front door open the whole time! LOL!​

An example of ROFL usage:

(first user:) OMG! You guys just made me spit coffee all over my keyboard and monitor!

(second user:) PMSL @ Jim! Bwahahahaha!.

(third user:) ROFL! Never put anything in your mouth when Greg is telling stories about his camping trips!

An example of ROFL usage:

(first user:) I have a joke for you! Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her daughter a dress. But when she got there the cupboard was bare and so was her daughter I guess.

(second user) ROFL!!!

Example of ROFL usage:

(first user:) Haha!

(second user:) What?

(first user:) Did you hear about the new corduroy pillows? They’re making headlines everywhere!

(second user:) ROFL! BWAHAHA

Origin of the ROFL Expression

ROFL is believed to have spawned from LOL and its variant LMAO expression. LOL is a longtime expression that predates the World Wide Web. Even before the first web pages of 1989, LOL was found on early Internet sites in UseNet and Telnet. 

According to at least one user, LOL made its first appearance in the early 1980's on a BBS (bullet board system) internet site called 'Viewline'. This BBS was out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and the user who created LOL is claimed to be Wayne Pearson.

The ROFL expression, like LOL, LMAO, PMSL, 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.

How to Capitalize and Punctuate Web and Texting Abbreviations

Capitalization is a non-concern when using text message abbreviations and chat jargon. You are welcome use all uppercase (e.g. ROFL) or all lowercase (e.g. rofl), and the meaning is identical. Avoid typing entire sentences in uppercase, though, as that means shouting in online speak.

Proper punctuation is similarly a non-concern with most text message abbreviations. For example, the abbreviation for 'Too Long, Didn't Read' can be abbreviated as TL;DR or as TLDR. Both are an acceptable format, with or without punctuation.

Never use periods (dots) between your jargon letters. It would defeat the purpose of speeding up thumb typing. For example, ROFL would never be spelled R.O.F.L., and TTYL would never be spelled T.T.Y.L. 

Recommended Etiquette for Using Web and Texting Jargon 

Knowing when to use jargon in your messaging is about knowing who your audience is, knowing if the context is informal or professional, and then using good judgment. If you know the people well, and it is a personal and informal communication, then absolutely use abbreviation jargon. On the flip side, if you are just starting a friendship or professional relationship with the other person, then it is a good idea to avoid abbreviations until you have developed a relationship rapport.

If the messaging is in a professional context with someone at work, or with a customer or vendor outside your company, then avoid abbreviations altogether. Using full word spellings shows professionalism and courtesy. It is much easier to err on the side of being too professional and then relax your communications over time than doing the inverse.