IYKYK: A guide to popular online abbreviated slang
For as long as language has existed, humans have been trying to shorten it. From Egyptian hieroglyphics and morse code to husbands grunting a monosyllabic response when asked to clean the garage and teens texting their friends, shorthand has become an art form.
Understanding the basic acronyms will help you connect not only with the younger crowd, but with businesses, too. It might even have you ROFL!
Don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a second.
An abbreviated history of slang
Every culture has its own slang, and it evolves with each generation. What’s groovy or rad one day is outdated the next. (Except for “cool.” That one stands the test of time.)
The use of slang dates back centuries. Rumor has it that an early draft of Julius Caesar had Shakespeare writing, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, BYOB,” but the acclaimed writer thought “bring your own beer” was too lowbrow and went with “lend me your ears” instead. While this can’t be verified academically, early slang was considered the vocabulary of “low” or “disreputable” people. In fact, criminal groups were among the first to adopt slang, using it to prevent the authorities from understanding what they were saying.
For hundreds of years slang primarily referred to spoken words. With the advent of the internet – and especially social media – it found its way into written text, as users took entire words and phrases and turned them into acronyms. When texting gained popularity in the year 2000, early adopters didn’t want to waste three seconds typing “laugh out loud” when they could dash off “LOL” in one-third that time. Just like that, a new craze was born.
Acronyms aren’t just for texting
TBH (to be honest), acronyms predate cellphones. Restaurant chain TGI Fridays popularized the phrase “TGIF” back in the mid-‘60s with some acronym slang dating back even further – as far as World War II. But acronyms really gained traction when texting went mainstream, because early text messages were limited to 160 characters. People adopted shorthand to save space, time, and money, giving rise to phrases like BRB (be right back), OMG (oh my God/gosh), and IMHO (in my humble opinion).
While this shorthand was originally confined mainly to texting, it now enjoys widespread use across all online forms of communication, including email and social media. Even businesses have adopted it for use … and chances are, you’ve probably heard someone utter “LOL” in response to a joke instead of actually laughing. Mr. Shakespeare is no doubt rolling over in his grave.
Common online abbreviated slang
BTW (by the way), the list of abbreviated slang continues to grow. NGL (not gonna lie), keeping up with the latest acronyms can be challenging. Like it or H8 (hate) it, you should have a basic understanding of the most common phrases FTW (for the win). In this case, there’s no such thing as TMI (too much information).
In no particular order, here are some popular online abbreviated slang phrases and their translations:
- LOL: Laugh Out Loud
- ROFL: Rolling On the Floor Laughing
- BRB: Be Right Back
- ICYMI: In Case You Missed It
- LMK: Let Me Know
- NVM: Never Mind
- JK: Just Kidding
- TY: Thank You
- YOLO: You Only Live Once
- ISO: In Search Of
- TL;DR: Too Long, Didn’t Read
- SMH: Shaking My Head
- IRL: In Real Life
- TTYL: Talk To You Later
- HMU: Hit Me Up
- IYKYK: If You Know, You Know
- IMO: In My Opinion (or IMHO if you are humble)
- FWIW: For What It’s Worth
- IDK: I Don’t Know
- NBD: No Big Deal
- B4: Before
- BC: Because
- JIC: Just In Case
- FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out
- HBD: Happy Birthday
- ILY: I Love You
- MYOB: Mind Your Own Business
- TIA: Thanks In Advance
- WDYT: What Do You Think
- V8: A juice beverage from the Campbell Soup Company made with eight vegetables.
OK (okay), we threw that last one in there just to see if you were paying attention. As online language continues to evolve, sooner or L8R (later) there will be even more additions to this list.
Our best suggestion? TIWAGOS (take it with a grain of salt). We just made that one up, but you know what? It just might work!