Abbreviations and acronyms in English became commonly used with the rise of texting a few decades ago. In the 1990s, text messages were costly to send and had a limit of characters. In addition, texting from a telephone with a T9 keypad used to be an exhausting process back then. That's when contraction of the words and omitting particular letters came in handy.
Today, texting abbreviations and acronyms deserve a separate dictionary. And with such an extensive amount of shortcuts and slang, writing a text message in full can be a complete waste of time.
Below, you will find the most commonly used terms for texting in English that will help you chat with your foreign-speaking friends effortlessly. In addition, you can use some of them even in business communication. Let's dive in!
Most Common Text Abbreviations for Chatting
BFF: best friends forever / best friend forever
- She's been my bff since we were five.
IRL: in real life
- Do you want to meet irl?
- Did you see her irl?
IDK: I don't know
- We can have pizza or some Asian food, idc
Alternatively, you can use IDC: I don't care.
DM: direct message
PM: private message
This one primarily refers to communicating on social media platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter. These platforms allow users to talk in both comments and direct/private messages - DMs/PMs. For example, you can add a post or an Insta story, saying:
- Looking for a new roommate. DM me for more info and photos if interested.
- It’s a bit complicated to explain, I’ll PM you.
OMW: on my way
- I'm so late. I'm sorry. omw now
TTYL: talk to you later
- Mom's back home, ttyl
Alternatively, you can also use CWYL: chat with you later, or a more rushed version in an instant message - G2G: got to go.
BTW: by the way
- Btw, I've just started watching that TV show you recommended.
CYT: see you tomorrow
"C" is frequently used to replace the word "see." Another example is OIC: oh, I see. You can also use CYA or CU in the meaning “see you.”
LMK: let me know
- Please LMK once you're finished.
HTH: hope this helps
- Hey, here's an extensive list of English texting abbreviations and acronyms, hth
JIC: just in case
- Please bring your textbook jic tomorrow.
NBD: no big deal
- I can take care of party arrangements, it's nbd
PAW: parents are watching
This one is used mainly by teenagers to let other people know they cannot chat about spicy subjects right now because their parents are watching.
ASAP: as soon as possible
- I need to order this dress ASAP while my size is still in stock.
AFAIK: as far as I know
- He isn't going to the party, afaik
Text Abbreviations That Express Emotions
LOL: laughing out loud
It is one of the most widely used texting abbreviations that today are used even in colloquial speech. Initially, it was used to express that something has made you laugh - quite literally - out loud.
However, over time, it went beyond its original meaning and today is typically used to express amusement, a sarcastic reaction, or just to indicate a playful tone. For example:
- I’ve spent an hour looking for my glasses until I realized they were on my head, lol
- I arrived home and realized I had forgotten my purse with keys at work, LOL
ROFL: rolling on the floor laughing
This acronym is an exaggerated version of LOL and is used only used as a tag at the end of a sentence or a response to indicate something is funny. Sometimes can also be used as a noun. For example:
- Hey, check this video! ROFL
- Did you watch the last episode of South Park? ROFL
OMG: oh my god
- OMG, did you see the price of this dress?
JK: just kidding
This one can also be used both in a straightforward or sarcastic way. Here are some examples:
- I hate ice cream, the worst food ever. JK, please get me some as well
- I’m done with this place; I will quit tomorrow. JK, I still need money to feed my cat.
ILY: I love you
- Thanks for making me coffee this morning! ILY
SMH: shaking my head
It’s usually used to express disgust, disbelief, shock, disappointment, or in situations when you find something so stupid you cannot find the words to describe it, so you - right - just shake your head. It is primarily used on its own, but can also come with an opinion, for example:
- This movie is so predictable smh
- SMH, my flight got canceled and cannot be rebooked
FTW: for the win
Usually, this one is used as an exclamation or rallying cry, for example:
- Finally, I'm going to finish this book tonight, three more chapters ftw
IMO / IMHO
IMO: in my opinion
IMHO: in my humble opinion
- IMHO this interior design will look perfect in your bedroom
- IMO you shouldn't have bought this car in the first place
Alternatively, you can also use TBH: to be honest.
FYEO: for your eyes only
Basically, it means that the information or details you're going to share should stay between you and the person you're texting with. This can apply when sending personal photos, exchanging gossip, or just sharing secrets. For example:
- I've got an offer from another agency, but it's FYEO, okay? I haven't told my boss yet.
TMI: too much information
This one is mainly used when someone shares much more information with you than you would like to hear or goes into gross details.
- I don’t want to listen to another scandal story about Kardashians, TMI
- I don’t like Twitter. That’s basically too many people simultaneously oversharing, TMI
TL;DR: too long; didn't read
This one is pretty straightforward and is initially used to express that a particular piece of content is too long to be worth reading. For example, this acronym frequently occurs in the comment section of online articles.
However, the meaning of TL;DR can also depend on the context it is used in. Today, it's common for writers to include a TL;DR at the beginning or end of their web article to provide a quick summary of what's being discussed in the content. For example, a comprehensive online review for a new but underdeveloped smartphone can start with:
- TL;DR: this smartphone isn't worth your money.
YOLO: you only live once
This can be used as a synonym to popular phrases like "Life is short!" or "Carpe diem" and generally express a positive attitude towards life. For example:
- Don't hesitate to apply for this international internship! YOLO
- I'm going to have the biggest popcorn they have and a huge soda at the movies tonight. YOLO
Saying Thank You in Texting
If you want to thank someone you are chatting with for something they did or said they will do, there are actually several variations of how you can do so in a text message. Here are abbreviations and acronyms that will help you say "thank you":
- TY/TQ: thank you
- thx/tnx: thanks
- TIA: thanks in advance
- TYVM: thank you very much
Work Texting Abbreviations
Yes, in work chats, when writing an email, and even in formal communication in English, text abbreviations and acronyms are also sometimes used to save time. And with so many people switching to working from home and completely digitized workspaces, abbreviations and acronyms for texting during working hours are especially handy.
Here are some useful English abbreviations and examples of their use in work-related conversations:
EOD: end of the day
- I want your reports delivered by EOD.
DIY: do it yourself
- You will need to DIY a spreadsheet this time.
OOO: out of the office
- I'll be OOO today.
TGIF: Thank God, it’s Friday
- No more Zoom meetings for today, TGIF! Have a nice weekend, everybody!
BRB: be right back
This one can be used as a custom status on Slack or another communication platform you use for work to let your colleagues know you're not at your desk at the moment. This is especially handy when WFH: working from home. You can also use acronyms like BBL: be back later or AFK: away from keyboard or a short "back in a sec."
TBA: to be announced
- The next priority project is TBA on Friday.
FAQ: frequently asked questions
- If you have any problems, please check FAQs on our website first.
FYI: for your information
- I enclose a copy of the abovementioned report FYI.
ICYMI: in case you missed it
- ICYMI, the meeting has been postponed to next Tuesday.
AAMOF: as a matter of fact
- AAMOF, the presentation went great. Excellent work, team!
To Sum Up
The best thing about texting abbreviations is that you don't have to remember them all to understand each text message. Moreover, a complete list of known chat abbreviations already consists of over 1,500 terms.
Getting familiar with the most common ones will already be enough to get a general idea of how they are created and how to read them. Remember that when in doubt, the person texting you can explain what they meant.
If you want to diversify your English learning experience and get more familiar with the slang, make sure to look for up-to-date content, such as ongoing TV shows. You can also download our Langster app with bite-sized stories and audio from native speakers to pick proper phrasing and learn more abbreviations applicable IRL. Good luck!