What's the Meaning of TMI?

Sharing too many personal details might upset others

While chatting online or texting on your phone, you might see someone respond to you with the internet slang expression "TMI". If you do, it's a clue that you've overshared information about a topic, usually one of a personal nature. That's because TMI means 'Too Much Information'.

How TMI is Used

Person reading a TMI message on a phone
Lifewire / Tim Liedtke

Commonly, TMI is used in online conversations when someone shares unpleasant private information. Perhaps the person decides to discuss their bathroom habits, their dysfunctional personal relationships, or a private medical condition. When this happens, one way to deal with the awkwardness is to use "TMI!" as a polite way to tell the oversharing person to stop.

The TMI expression, like many other internet expressions, is part of online conversation culture.

Examples of TMI in Use

Example 1

Friend 1: My doctor helped me burst my sebaceous cyst this morning. That thing on my back squirted at least a tablespoon of cream cheese when the doctor pinched it.

Friend 2: OMG TMI, JEN! Wth would you tell me that!

Example 2

Friend 1: I got new piercings! oh, this hurt so much to get!

Friend 2: You got another nose stud?

Friend 1: No, I got a nipple piercing and genital piercing. Stainless steel, all the way!

Friend 2: TMI, man! Why did you have to tell me that? How am I supposed to erase that from my brain, dammit!

Example 3

Friend 1: What the heck? Why are you wearing an eye patch?

Friend 2: I got into a fistfight with my girlfriend's sister. She started ripping me over how I pick my nose in the car, and I told her to shove it, I'm not hurting anybody. and I threatened to flick some in her eye if she didn't take a chill pill.

Friend 1: TMI! What kind of idiot are you?

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 to 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.