There are many texting abbreviations, and even as a frequent texter, it can be a challenge to remember them all. Knowing all the common abbreviations can help you master emails, social media, and texting conversations, no matter what the situation.
Why Do We Use Abbreviations When We Text?
It might seem a bit silly to abbreviate a text message which is already short, but there was a time when you had to. When texting was first invented, texts had a character limit of 160 characters, meaning whatever you had to say it needed to be short or you would have to pay for two messages—or more.
Not only that, but you had to press buttons multiple times just to create one letter—which was one of the main reasons people did everything they could to shorten texts.
Once unlimited messaging and full keyboards became a thing, it was less common to shorten messages, but some social media platforms like Twitter also have a character limit, so the abbreviations stuck around. Plus, some of them had already become part of society and people used them in spoken conversations even when they weren’t needed.
Classic Texting Abbreviations
TTYL, which is an acronym for “talk to you later” is arguably the first texting acronym ever. When you wanted to tell your friend you would chat later, but didn’t want to type out 14 characters, these 4 had you covered.
After TTYL, LOL is the most common texting abbreviation, and it is short for “laugh out loud.” The LOL abbreviation has become so popular, it’s common to hear people using this term in conversation. It’s a bit of a catch all phrase and can be used anytime you think something is funny.
FML is an acronym for “fuck my life” and while a bit vulgar, it is extremely common in social media and texting. It is used anytime the texter is upset about something or is in disbelief that they have to deal with a particular situation.
Shortly after the advent of LOL, ROFL came along, and it stands for “rolling on the floor laughing.” It’s usually used for situations where LOL isn’t enough. Just be sure when you use it, it’s for a situation that is so funny LOL doesn’t cover it.
Often called the original instant messaging term, AFK is short for “away from keyboard” and was typed by gamers or chatters before they stepped away from their keyboard for a moment. While this term has decreased in popularity, it is still occasionally used in gaming.
WTV is a catch all text abbreviation. Originating when the 160-character limit was a big deal, WTV is a short version of the word “whatever.” Sometimes teens use it in conversation, pronouncing it like “whatev.” It’s grown less common over the years, but you’ll still see it from time to time.
Anyone who was texting between 2000-2010 will remember WYD. WYD is an acronym for “what are you doing” and it can be sent in a text, or all on its own to see if your friend is available. It is still used in text conversations today, showing that humans really are quite lazy.
HMU is an acronym for “hit me up” and it first became big when people were selling items and descriptions had to be short and to the point. Sellers could ask potential customers to “hit them up” if they were interested in what was being sold.
IDK is another classic message which was designed due to character limits. IDK stands for “I don’t know” and it can be used in any situation where you don’t know something or don’t know if you’ll want to do something.
Basic Texting Abbreviations
SMH which is an acronym for “shaking my head” came about a little later than the classic messages, but it was widespread by the time iPhones became popular in 2010. It is still frequently used as a comment on social media videos when someone doesn’t know what else to say.
IMY is an acronym for “I miss you” and while it was big during the character limit days, it has stuck around. In our opinion, if you miss someone so much, you should probably do them a favor and type out 8 characters, which is just 5 more than this acronym.
IRL stands for “in real life” and it came about when chat rooms, online gaming, and AIM first became popular. Chat rooms often had character limits and allowed the user to live a simulated life within the game. IRL was typed when someone wanted to know a little something about the individual behind the character pictured on the screen.
WYM is an acronym for “what do you mean” and is used whenever someone is confused and needs clarification about something. While it isn’t always used in texting anymore, it is still popular to see it on social media.
IMO means “in my opinion” and it came around as forum sites like Reddit became popular. People would begin a post with IMO and then state their opinion. The term is so popular, you will often hear people saying IMO in social settings in addition to in texts and online.
TBH is an older term standing for “to be honest” and it is often said before something insulting or hard hitting, displaying to the reader that full honesty is coming their way. TBH, like IMO has gone far past the digital world and is often spoken in conversations.
NGL stands for “not going to lie” and it is used similar to TBH in situations where the harsh truth is about to be stated. NGL is common on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, especially in the comments sections.
Social Media Abbreviations
YOLO is an acronym for the words “you only live once” and it was invented by millennials as an expression to show that you should try new or difficult things because you might not have an opportunity later. Like many of the other terms on this list, YOLO has become a spoken saying and is used in person as well as online.
CAP is a social media term only, and it is used to express when someone is lying or making something up. In the same way “no cap” is often used as an expression to mean the poster is not lying or making their joke up.
FIRE is a word used to describe when something is totally cool or “lit.” It isn’t 100% certain where this term came from, but it is often used in place of saying something is “the bomb” or “amazing” or “sweet.” It is used in social situations, as well as in social media posts and texts.
KMS is a bit of an odd abbreviation, standing for “kill myself.” While this may sound dark, it is typically used in the melodramatic, meaning the poster is saying it as a joke not because they actually intend to commit suicide. It can be a sign that something is wrong, however, and an individual using KMS should be approached with caution.
FTW is an acronym for “for the win” and is used to show a sign of approval. It can also be used to encourage someone to do something they may be afraid to do. It is more common in social media than in texting conversations.
POV stands for “point of view” and it first rose to prominence in online book sites like Fanfiction where writers would write stories in different points of view. With the rise of Instagram, it has been used by creators to make stories with several characters even though they are only one person.
OG is an acronym standing for “original gangster” and it first became popular in the 90s when rap became more mainstream. Over the past decade it has become a term on social media to refer to “the original” of a trend, even if that individual isn’t a gangster. It is also commonly used in sports when discussing players or team owners.
SOML is an abbreviation for “story of my life”, and it is often used at the end of a story in a forum or on social media. Sometimes it is used in texting when someone is expressing that they aren’t surprised with an event that occurred.
MBN is an acronym for “must be nice” and it is used when a commenter is expressing that the original poster has a bit of privilege that they forgot. It can sometimes be used as an insult or as a hashtag on the social media platform Instagram.
CTFU isn’t an original term like LOL or ROFL, but it is meant to be used humorously. CTFU stands for “cracking the fuck up” and it is common on forum sites like Reddit. It may not be appropriate for all situations, but there are some situations where you can’t stop yourself from CTFU.
FWIW is an acronym for “for what it’s worth” and it is often used by individuals who want to say something, but they aren’t sure if what they say will be useful or not. It isn’t as common as other terms on this list but can be used in texting or on social media.
OTP is a complicated acronym because it has multiple meeting depending on where it is used. Originally, OTP stood for “one true pairing” and was used in reader fandoms to indicate that there was only one couple in the book that should be together and that is what they wrote about. In more modern times, it stands for “one time password” and appears on sites when users try to recover their access.
ICYMI is a longer texting acronym which stands for “in case you missed it.” It is often used when posting videos of popular events for those who didn’t see it. It may also be used in texting to point someone to something the sender thinks they will find interesting.
MID is a term which stands for “mediocre” or “average.” It is used somewhat as a ranking system with influencers saying that an item or place is “mid.” It is believed this term came from pricing which could be “low, mid-range, or high” and just the mid term was adopted.
SUS is newer abbreviation that became popular during the COVID19 pandemic. SUS is short for suspicious and is often used in online gaming, specifically in the game Among Us where players have to find out who is the imposter and who is a player. SUS is used to say that a player is suspicious based on their actions. It has since bled into pop culture and is used in texting and on social media sites.