What Does the Phrase TTYL Stand For?

An illustration of 'ttyl' used in conversation on a mobile device.

Nusha Ashjaee / Lifewire

This is internet shorthand for saying "goodbye for now" or "we'll talk again soon". Like most internet acronyms, the expression is not suitable for initial business dealings. Instead, TTYL is best used in personal email and personal online chatting, or in those special circumstances where your business acquaintance has become a friend.

"TTYL" can be spelled "ttyl" in all lowercase. Both uppercase and lowercase versions mean the same thing and are perfectly acceptable. Just be careful not to type entire sentences in uppercase, lest you be accused of shouting online.

Example of TTYL usage:

  • (User 1) Gotta go, boss is coming.
  • (User 2) kk, ttyl.

Another example of TTYL usage:

  • (User 1, instant message) Sec, telephone ringing...
  • (User 2) ok, no worries.
  • (User 1) OK, I'm back. That was my kid, I need to pick her up from school right now. I guess she forgot her bus pass at home.
  • (User 2) no worries, TTYL!

Third example of TTYL usage:

  • (User 1) Sorry I didn't say goodbye before leaving the party. You were in the backyard somewhere, and I couldn't find you.
  • (User 2) That's OK. I hope everything went well with your Uber ride.
  • (User 1) Uber was good. I think I'll use them again when we go for dinner on Sunday.
  • (User 2) Excellent. TTYL, my man! 

Origin of the Modern TTYL Expression:

This is unclear, but there are stories that TTYL started in the 1980s in England, where the expression "ta ta, you all" was a goodbye saying in the part of the UK. If this is truly the expression's origin, then it was certainly overwhelmed by the Americanized "talk to you later."

Similar Expressions to TTYL:

  • BRB (Be Right Back)
  • BBIAB (Be Back in a Bit)
  • GTG (Got to Go)
  • Toodles (Goodbye for now)
  • TTFN (Ta Ta for Now)
  • CU (See You)
  • CUL8R (See You Later)

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.