WDTAM: What Do These Acronyms Mean

We as a society cannot seem to function online without the prolific usage of acronyms. Individually we may have differing views on the value of these acronyms, but regardless they are part of life now. There are surely a variety of reasons for this, and we can point the finger of blame at many things, but I think this is the main culprit/catalyst:

Flip phone with keypad
Many consider this to be “old school”

Take note of those keys. In order to type out a text message on there you had press a lot of keys. For instance, in order to get an “i” you had to press 4 three times. It is easy then to see where this led. Saying “are you there” took 26 (feel free to check my math) button presses, while “r u there” took only 19. You can’t argue with math and science and general human impatience.

Ultimately it doesn’t really matter how the trend started or what our feelings about it are. The important thing is to recognize that even if we never use any ourselves we will come across others using them, and we should be have at least some rudimentary knowledge of what they stand for.

There are dozens and dozens of them, but most are not widely used. Some are very specific towards particular types of conversations, topics, and websites. You can find a variety of lists of acronyms online, including an explanation of lolspeak, and also find articles warning about how teenagers use acronyms as codes to do things they don’t want their parents to know about. I never worried about that too much. I assumed my teenagers would try that sort of stuff, being teenagers and all.

Clearly up to no good.

So what we have here is a list of the acronyms I most commonly come across or use myself. Your results may vary, of course. I’ll not only spell them out but also use them in a sentence that also links to a book I like. I’ve probably blogged about these books before, but that is okay. This is my blog post and I can do what I want. Also, most of these can be done with either capital or small letters, either/or.


Laugh out loud. This one is so overused and cliched now that I have seen people write “actual LOL”, to convey that they really did laugh as opposed to it being a stock reply. There are variations to express increasing levels of supposed laughter, such as ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing).

“The book Hyperbole And A Half will make you repeatedly LOL.”


By the way. Used to change the topic or add an aside.

“btw, have you read Amanda Palmer’s amazing book, The Art of Asking?”


Be right back. Letting someone know that you will be away from the conversation for a brief time.

“brb. I have to see if my wife is done watching Game of Thrones again. She is in love with Tyrion.”

BRB sounds kind of like baseball jargon. It isn’t.


In my honest opinion, or in my humble opinion. Used to indicate that you are stating your opinion, and not necessarily stating a fact.

“IMHO, The Reapers are the Angels is the second best zombie book.”


In case you missed it. For when you share something with someone that you realize they might have seen already.

ICYMI, this library blog about Dark Fiction was really cool.


On the other hand. This is for when you present an alternate opinion or option.

“OTOH, Zone One was also a really good zombie book.”


As far as I know. Telling someone that you think this information is correct, but that you haven’t verified it.

The Stand is Stephen King’s longest book, afaik.”


If I recall correctly. Used to admit that your memory may be faulty.

“IIRC, Lexicon is Max Barry’s only book to date.” [Ed. note: it is not. He has written five novels so far.]


Hooray, more or less.

“w00t, the library has the Archer book!”

I know it is hard to tell with this font, but w00t is spelled with zeros.


Best friends forever, and before anyone else (also a shortened form of “babe”.) One used for your best friend(s), the other for a significant other.

“I suggested Atonement to my BFF, and Silk to my BAE.”


In real life. So people know you aren’t talking about something you made up on the Internet.

“I work at a library IRL, so I can always give you good book recommendations, like The Gone-Away World.”


Not safe for work. A way to let someone know that what you are sharing (often a link) has content (often language or nudity) that might not be (or definitely is not) suitable for viewing in a work environment.

“Here’s a clip from Gone Girl, where Amy takes out Desi. Totes NSFW, tho.” [Ed. note: that link actually just takes you to the Gone Girl dvd in the library catalog.]

As I said before, there are tons more of these. Share any you think are interesting in the comments, or ask about ones you wonder about.

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