What does LMAO mean? ROFL? HMU? Text speak, textese, or SMS language is only getting more popular as the years pass by. Are you confused? Do you even need to know what these abbreviations mean, you might be wondering.
Well here is your guide! It includes:
- a short history of textese and texting slang
- a little dictionary of common text abbreviations
- the reasons why you don’t need to know every single slang term out there
- six useful texting rules
- and three ways to improve your texting (and becoming more likeable).
The History of Text Speak
The first text message was sent in 1992 by a communications engineer called Neil Papworth, in the U.K.1 It was sent on a computer via his “Short Messaging Service” to his friend Richard Jarvis’ brick-sized Orbitel 901 phone, which had no way to input text so Jarvis could reply.1
By ’93, Nokia had created phones with keypads, and by 2000, Americans were sending 35 texts per month.1 In 2007, texts replaced phone calls as the most popular form of digital communication.1
Text speak grew out of the need for text messaging to be quick, economical and easy.2 Most of the first texters had 160 characters per text to get their message across, and were dealing with a small keyboard; you needed to push one button per letter.2
On the internet, telex or internet slang began to develop in chat rooms to speed up communication and facilitate putting your point across. It was a useful form of shorthand that blew up all over the internet and remains strong today. You’ve probably heard it spreading into speech, too, e.g. “I was like OMG!”
Text Message Terms are not Going Away
The wide acceptance of handheld devices has only fueled the bizarre jargon fire. And it’s so convenient and efficient, in most cases, that it’s being accepted in the workplace, and almost everywhere and anytime (except when you’re having sex, eating or at the movies).
A Texting Dictionary for You
There are a LOT of online chat abbreviations. They can appear in lower- and uppercase. Here are 30 you might come across:
- B4N: Bye for now.
- BTW: by the way.
- LOL: Laughing out loud.
- ROFL or ROFLMAO: Rolling on the floor laughing, or rolling on floor, laughing my *ss off.
- STFU: Shut the f*** up.
- LMK: Let me know.
- ILY: I love you.
- GTG: Got to go.
- OOTD: One of these days.
- LMFAO: Laughing my freaking a** off, or just LMAO
- NVM: Never mind.
- IKR: I know, right.
- OFC: of course.
- ?: I don’t know what you mean.
- TMI or 2MI: Too much information.
- 4COL: For crying out loud.
- WTF: What the f***.
- TTYL: Talk to you later.
- 2moro: Tomorrow.
- 2nite: Tonight.
- BRB or BBIAB: Be right back, or be back in a bit.
- OMG: Oh my God.
- AMG: Ah, my God.
- FWIW: For what it’s worth.
- IMHI: In my humble opinion.
- HMU: Hit me up.
- WBU: What about you?
- PROPS: Proper respect and acknowledgement
- IDC: I don’t care.
- SMH: Shaking my head.
- OATUS: On a totally unrelated subject.
- ASL: Age, sex, location
- PMFJI: Pardon me for jumping in.
However, you should probably understand that it’s not necessary to start using all of these. In fact, these days you can get away with using very few of them, thanks to the modern smart phone with an internet connection.
I hear you sigh with relief. Yes, if you’re not a teen, you can text the same way you speak. It’s very much up to you how you converse with people of all ages, although you might find yourself looking up some slang terms your 15-year-old niece sent you.
Texting language is changing so rapidly, that keeping up can be a challenge. Ask Google instead of young people—who may only be able to speak for their age group—to stay ahead of the game. Here is a good dictionary.
Baring that in mind, there are other points to consider.
The Six Rules of Gracious Texting
Texting etiquette can be one of the most confusing aspects of texting slang. It’s easy to mess up texting, and a lot of people do it all the time, without realizing how rude or inappropriate they are.
- Don’t Text in ALL CAPS
It seems like you’re angry.
- Don’t Mass Text Everyone
Unless you really want to send kind wishes to your business contacts by accident, or distance yourself from your younger loved ones.
This also goes for videos. There are a lot of over 60-year-olds sending videos of cute cats and anything and everything else they enjoy to all their younger contacts, probably because they are wowed by the fact that they can do it. No chain letters, either, thank you very much.
You can get away with this if you have sent out formal invitation or invites previously about your art opening or another event.
- Don’t ROFL Your Mom or Your Aunt
…because they probably won’t understand you! And it’s just not necessary. Follow the other person’s lead if you’re unsure how to proceed.
- Double Check Your Text
It’s embarrassing to send someone a text message you meant to send elsewhere, or send something full of auto-correct mishaps.
- When at Work…
Be careful you don’t text something you wouldn’t say out loud. Like WTF. U is probably too informal, so type out messages in full as a general rule.
Also: use please and thank you; don’t text under the table at a meeting or presentation—and change meeting time and venues by phone, not by text.
- Don’t Text and Text the Same Person if They Don’t Reply
Well, it is a little bit like stalking. If they don’t reply after the second text, stop texting right there. One phone call is then the last action you want to take before completely leaving them alone.
- Try Not to Get Offended by People Who Don’t Reply
They may be busy, dealing with something stressful, or asleep! Just because texting is almost instant, doesn’t mean everyone has to answer immediately. There are some people who just don’t really like texting, prefer to speak on the phone or don’t have time to reply for 24 hours.
How to Improve Your Texting (and Become More Likable)
Do many don’ts! Here are some dos that will make you more likeable.
- Use more emoji s!
Linguists say it’s the first new language to be invented in an extremely long time, and those pandas and smileys can be both cute and clear.
- Keep it short and sweet and mirror response time
Keeping things short and sweet is great text etiquette. You just don’t know how much time people have to pay attention to you when you text them. In this way, it’s very unlike a natural, face-to-face conversation, so keep things short and sweet, and mirror response time for best results.
- Keep Your Grammar and Punctuation Up
This stands true when you’re at work or communicating with someone around your own age that you don’t know really well.
Abbreviations can be fun and playful in the right context, but spelling mistakes and grammar mishaps may give anyone you’re texting the impression you don’t really care about what you’re saying to them. And that’s never good!
- http://www.besttextmarketing.com/sms-marketing/history-of-short-message-service-sms/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMS_language#cite_note-2