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IRL Acronym: Definition, Meaning, and How to Use It

By Elisha Baba


Published on

You watched an Instagram video and noticed the letters IRL in the corner, and you aren’t sure what they mean. IRL is an acronym often used in social media, especially on gaming platforms.

What does IRL mean?

“IRL” is an acronym for the words “in real life” and it is often used when the user wants to differentiate between something which is happening in real life and something which is only happening in a digital game or video.

IRL is used to shorten text in videos or when engaging in online chats. It has become so popular in recent years, however, that many people speak the letters IRL in social settings as well.

What does IRL mean?

How to use IRL

  • “I’m a hunter, but IRL I work in accounting.”
  • “Do you want to meet IRL?”
  • “IRL I would never get this close to a bear.”
  • “IRL I look like this.”
  • IRL can be used anytime you want to specify that something is happening in your real life.

Using IRL the right way

IRL isn’t common in texting, but if you are using it to differentiate between your real and your digital life there is little you can do to use it incorrectly. IRL can be used in almost any situation and isn’t tied to feelings or emotions.

IRL Variations

At the time of the publishing of this article, there were no known variations of the abbreviation IRL.

Should you worry about your child using IRL?

IRL is usually a harmless texting term kids may use when gaming online to differentiate between their real life and digital character. However, it is important to keep an eye out when you notice your child using IRL to ensure they aren’t planning to meet up with any online friends IRL.

Child traffickers can often use children’s games to look for potential victims and they will ask children to meet them IRL. It is important to discuss with your kids the importance of internet safety and when it is not appropriate to meet someone IRL.

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