What Does PMSL Mean?

How to understand and use this internet abbreviation

If you've ever seen PMSL in a text or chat message, the internet acronym rather impolitely stands for "p**sed myself laughing." Someone who types PMSL has found something incredibly amusing. Other expressions that express laughing and humor 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. PMSL is best used in personal texting, email, online chatting, or in special circumstances where a business acquaintance has become a friend.

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

Illustration of smartphone
Lifewire / Derek Abella

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

Examples of PMSL Usage 

Example 1:

  • (User 1) OMG! You guys just made me spit coffee all over my keyboard and monitor!
  • (User 2) ROFL @ Jim! Bwahahahaha!
  • (User 3) PMSL! Never drink anything when Greg is telling stories about his camping trips! 

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) PMSL! BWAHAHA

Origin of the Modern PMSL Expression

PMSL is British in origin. There are instances of the PMSL acronym being used online since the year 2000. The PMSL expression gained popularity with European soccer fan sites as footballers would recount comedic incidents at their football matches, or when the opposing team would suffer some kind of indignity or funny defeat. 

The PMSL expression, like many other online expressions and web lingo, is part of online conversation culture and is a way to build cultural identity through language and playful conversation. 

Expressions Similar to PMSL

  • ROFL (Rolling on Floor 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)

Generally, you would use PMSL if you think your readers are largely British, and you'd use ROFL or some other variant for American readers.

Capitalizing and Punctuating Web and Text Abbreviations

Capitalization is a non-concern when using text abbreviations and chat jargon. Use all uppercase (PMSL) or all lowercase (pmsl) 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.