What Does LOL Mean in Texting?: A Guide to 103 Popular Text Abbreviations

Woman's hand texting, with chat bubble illustrations

Texting has made it easier to communicate—in most cases. But sometimes you run into phrases or words you don’t understand. That’s when you find yourself asking questions like what does LOL mean in texting, what does OMG mean in texting, or what does HMU mean in texts?

Words like LOL, OMG, and HMU are text abbreviations. They’re simply shortened versions of longer phrases. They help people write more quickly. In many cases, using them has become a habit for heavy texters. (They’re even finding their way into our everyday language.)

Read on to learn what abbreviations are compared to acronyms, when people use text abbreviations, when you should use them, and what the most popular text abbreviations are.

via Gfycat

Comparing Abbreviations to Acronyms

As we mentioned, abbreviations are shortened versions of longer phrases. They help people communicate more quickly.

There are multiple kinds of abbreviations:

  • Initialism: formed from the first letters of a group of words, and pronounced letter by letter. AKA is an example of an initialism. LOL is also sometimes pronounced as an initialism.
  • Acronym: formed from the first letters of a group of words, and pronounced as a word. ZIP (zone improvement plan) is an example of an acronym. LOL is most frequently pronounced as an acronym (“lawl”).
  • Shortening: refers to a word where the beginning or ending of the word has been cut off. App (application) is an example of a shortening.
  • Contraction: words where letters are omitted from the middle. Don’t, rly, and govt are examples of contractions.

You’ll probably run into all of these types of abbreviations in texts. However, the most common (and the most exclusive to texting) are acronyms.

When Do People Use Text Abbreviations?

People might use text abbreviations by habit. They may use them when they’re in a hurry. Alternatively, they may use them in conversations when they start to feel at ease with you. No matter the cause, people using abbreviations with you is a good thing.

Text abbreviations show you that the people you’re texting feel comfortable using casual language with you. SMS is a convenient channel for them, and by using their favorite text abbreviations, they’re making the channel even more useful.

Understanding what people—whether they’re friends, colleagues, or customers—are saying when they use text abbreviations is important. If you understand them and can respond appropriately, they will feel comfortable communicating with you in the future.

Top Text Abbreviations

So now to the main question: what does LOL mean in texting? And which text abbreviations can you expect to see from your friends, colleagues, and even customers? Below, we’ve listed the most common abbreviations you’ll find in texts, plus an example of a sentence in which they might be used. For some of the most popular abbreviations, we’ve even included a mini history lesson:

Text Abbreviation Definition Example Fun Facts
AFAIK as far as I know “AFAIK, she left the party ten minutes ago.” The earliest dated definition for AFAIK can be found on the website Urban Dictionary. It was written in 2003.
AKA also known as “Joe, AKA our principal.” Jennifer Lopez’s eighth studio album is titled A.K.A. It is also the title of one of the songs in the album.
AMA ask me anything “I have taken the test before. AMA.” Reddit is a large online platform that features user-led discussion boards. It has a subReddit (a dedicated discussion board) called “r/IAmA.” On this discussion board, users submit “AMA interviews.” They say who they are and what they do, then ask other users to ask them anything (AMA).
ASAP as soon as possible “Can I have that shipped ASAP?” ASAP was initially an uncommon initialism used in high-pressure environments, like on Wall Street, to request that a task be completed quickly. It became common (and pronounced as an acronym) with the rise of email and internal messaging systems.

 

Example text using the abbreviation ASAP

AYOR at your own risk “Try that cookie dough AYOR.” While this abbreviation attempts to deflect blame from one party, it is only used in casual conversations. You would never see a legal document with AYOR on it.
B4 before “I turned off the stove b4 I left.” This acronym was so popular in 1999 that a boy band named themselves b4-4. Later, they rebranded to before four.
BC because “She left bc she was bored.” When capitalized and used in academic or historical writing, this acronym means  “Before Christ.” This refers to the years before the year 0 (e.g., 500 BC). However, many modern publications use BCE, which means “before common era.”
BRB be right back “I need to find the shipping number. BRB.” BRB originated in the 1990s when chatrooms first became popular. It was an easy way to explain that a person would be stepping away from their keyboard for a few minutes.
BTW by the way “BTW, the customer account help button isn’t working.” While the exact origin of this acronym is unknown, it was featured on a 1989 list of text abbreviations.
DIY do it yourself Ex. “Is this supposed to be a DIY furniture setup, or is it a white-glove delivery?” The term DIY became popular in the 1950s, when self-made projects became all the rage.
DM direct message “I sent him a DM on Instagram, but he hasn’t responded.” The term DM grew popular on Facebook and Twitter, but is now used to refer to direct (private) messages on any social media platform.
DYK did you know “DYK Angie is going to be on vacation next week?”
ESP especially “I thought that was an ESP good presentation.”  ESP is also the acronym for “extrasensory perception.” People with ESP believe they can sense information through the mind. (Think: people who can read minds and see the future.)
FR for real “Let’s go FR, I’m dying to see them perform.”
FTW for the win “That’s the Packers FTW!!” FTW can either indicate an actual win in a game or imply that something is excellent or the greatest.
FWIW for what it’s worth “FWIW, I prefer the red dress.” This term is used to politely introduce an idea, especially one that might contradict the other person’s viewpoint.

 

Text using the acronym FWIW

FYI for your information “FYI, I just renewed my subscription before the account closed out on me.” FYI is most often used in informal situations like SMS chats. It’s also used in formal emails or documents to attract the readers’ attention.
G2G got to go “Sorry I missed you, but I’ve G2G.”
HBD happy birthday “HBD, Molly.” HBD can be seen as a lazy or rude way to send birthday wishes. Consider sticking with the full phrase if you’re talking to someone you care about!
HBU how about (’bout) you “I’m tired, HBU?” WBU, which means what about (‘bout) you, can be used instead of HBU in many situations.
HMU hit me up “Can you HMU when you hear about delivery times?”
IDC I don’t care “IDC where we go for dinner.”
IDK I don’t know “IDK the order number.”
IMHO in my humble opinion “She’s wrong about that IMHO.” While the H in IMHO has long been established as “humble,” popular internet polls found that more people think the H stands for “honest.” It’s another example of people using abbreviations long enough for the real meaning to be challenged.
IMO in my opinion “We should go Friday, IMO.”
ILY I love you “Thanks Tina, ILY.” ILY is a less serious version of “I love you.” It’s most often a term of admiration or fondness, rather than full-blown love.
IRL in real life “Is there an associate I can chat with IRL?” IRL is often used in online spaces like social media or video games to refer to our normal, non-digital lives.
JIC just in case “I packed an emergency winter bag JIC.”
JK just kidding “You look ridiculous. JK.” JK got its start in 1990s chatrooms, and continued to rise in popularity throughout the 2000s. As it is sometimes difficult to convey emotions in messages, it was commonly used to ensure the mood of chats were sufficiently light.

 

JK being used in a text message

JSYK just so you know “JSYK, the venue is closing at 2.”
LGTM looks good to me “LGTM. Go ahead and place the order.”
LMAO laughing my a** off “LMAO! I can’t believe I was using the wrong button all along!” LMAO is a stronger version of LOL. You can use it to show that you’re laughing hard, as opposed to just laughing.
LMK let me know “LMK what time you’re thinking for dinner.” Like many other text abbreviations, LMK came from 1990s chat rooms. It was used commonly to prompt another user to answer a question. The earliest official definition was made in 2003 by Urban Dictionary.
LOL laugh out loud “LOL I completely forgot that part of the instructions.” The term dates back to the 1980s, when it was used to simulate in-person laughter between people communicating electronically. It rose in popularity as email and cell phones were adopted by the general public. As it became more widely known, people began pronouncing it as an acronym as opposed to an initialism.

 

Texting using LOL as an abbreviation

MSG message “Your last msg confused me.”
N/A not applicable “N/A. I don’t have a cat.” N/A is most often written down on a form when you can’t provide an answer to a question.
NBD no big deal “I don’t mind that you missed the show, it’s NBD.”
NGL not gonna lie “You scared me, NGL.” NGL is a newer acronym. It was started sometime around 2010, when it was first added to Urban Dictionary.
NP no problem “NP, I understand it’s not your fault.”
NVM never mind “NVM, it’s working now.”
OMG oh my god “OMG I didn’t even think of that.” OMG is over 100 years old, having been used in a letter written to Winston Churchill in a letter in 1917. The initialism became commonly used in 1990s chat rooms as a way to express shock.

 

A text message that reads “OMG I didn’t even think of that.”

OMW on my way “I’m OMW now, will be there in 30 mins!”
RLY really “That seems rly late.”
RN right now “I can take a call rn if that works.”
ROFL rolling on the floor laughing “That’s too funny! ROFL.” ROFL dates back to around 1989, when it was first used in a post on an early internet message board called Usenet.
SGTM sounds good to me “I love that idea! SGTM.”
SMH shaking my head “I can’t believe you did that! SMH.” SMH is meant to convey disappointment, disapproval, frustration, or impatience.
SMS short message service (texts) “Can you send me the address through SMS?” The concept of the SMS message is attributed to Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert in 1984. The first real text was sent by Neil Papworth in 1992.
SRSLY seriously “She is SRSLY mad.”
SO significant other “Can I bring my SO to the party?”
TBA to be announced “The event dates are TBA, but I think it’ll be sometime in November.” TBA is interchangeable with TBD, which means “to be declared.” (TBD is also defined as “to be determined” in some cases.)
TBC to be confirmed “The awards dinner starts at 9pm. The menu is vegetarian casseroles, meat options TBC.”
TBH to be honest “TBH, I think I want to return it at this point.”
TGIF thank God it’s Friday “I’m exhausted. TGIF.” There are multiple songs that use this acronym, including “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)” by Katy Perry and “T.G.I.F.” by Lonestar
THX thanks “I got it in the mail, THX for sending!”
TIA thanks in advance “TIA for your help.” Some language experts suggest that TIA can come across as passive-aggressive. Consider skipping straight to THX or TY!
TIHI thanks, I hate it “So about that spider video…TIHI” This term is used for photos, videos, or pieces of information that make someone uncomfortable. It can be used in response to conventionally scary, creepy, or awkward content.
TIL today I learned “TIL Bob was in a kids’ bowling league. He obviously won the game.”
TLDR too long; didn’t read “TLDR. Can you send a summary?” While the exact origins of the phrase aren’t known, it is suspected that TL;DR got its start from discussion boards like the Something Awful Forums during the early 2000s. The phrase was used then (and is used now) to give a quick summary of a longer article.

 

An SMS using the phrase TLDR

TMI too much information “I’m glad you’re feeling better, but also, TMI.” TMI is a casual way to let friends know you’re uncomfortable with the personal information they’re sharing.
TMRW tomorrow “I have time tmrw to pick it up.”
TTFN ta ta for now “Got it, that’s all I needed. TTFN!” TTFN is an initialism of a popular British phrase. A British radio program that ran from 1939-1949, It’s That Man Again, created it to satirize the military’s use of initialisms.
TTYL talk to you later “I’ll message in once I find the part. TTYL” From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, TTYL was the most popular way to say goodbye to friends via SMS.
TY thank you “TY for the support.”
TYSM thank you so much “TYSM for your help!”
WBU what about you? “I’m gonna leave. WBU?” This term is synonymous with HBU in many cases. 
W/O without “Do you have anything w/o dairy?” Some say that this acronym started in the 1950s with waitresses. They could write down customer preferences more quickly by replacing the words with and without with W/ and W/O.
YNK you never know “YNK who is watching.”
YOLO you only live once “I should have stayed in and studied, but YOLO.” This acronym was first recorded in 1996, and began to decline in popularity around 2012. It has been featured in songs (like Drake’s “The Motto”) and parodied in songs (like The Lonely Island’s “YOLO”). Additionally, Mickey Hart, drummer of the Grateful Dead, has a house named YOLO.
YW you’re welcome “YW! I hope this helps other people with this problem, too.”

 

Business-Specific Abbreviations

The rise of tools like Slack, G-Chat, and business text messaging means that many professionals now use abbreviations in their internal teams. Along with the more general terms above, you may see more business-specific terms like those below:

Text Abbreviation Definition Example Fun Facts
ASAC as soon as convenient “Can you send that over ASAC?” There is a movement to stop using urgent terms like ASAP in offices, as they create an unhealthy sense of urgency when used too often. ASAC is a good alternative.
B2B business to business “She’s a B2B freelancer, so I’m sure she can write a blog post about marketing software.”
B2C business to consumer “We’re a B2C startup that sells dog costumes to pet owners.”
B2G business to government “As a B2G contractor, our employees get security clearance.” Business to government (B2G) is also known as business to administration (B2A). It refers to the sale of goods or services to any government, whether it’s federal, state, or local.
BAU business as usual “It didn’t snow, so we’re still on, BAU.” Originally used in the 1800s, this term referred to maintaining normal business activity despite natural disasters or other potential interruptions. In 1914, it became more commonly used to refer to keeping normal life going during war-related disturbances. 
BR bounce rate “Can you check on the BR for that last set of emails?” This term is specifically used in internet marketing. It refers to the percentage of users who visit one page of your website without looking at other webpages.
COB close of business “I’ll have that report to you by COB.”

 

COB, or close of business, used in a professional text

CPC cost per click “The digital ad has a high CPC, but the brand awareness will be worth it.” This online advertising term refers to how much advertisers pay for a single lead click on a social media or display ad. It is sometimes conflated with pay-per-click advertising, but that refers to the ad model, not the metric.
CPU cost per unit “I don’t think it’s worth the CPU.” CPU can also stand for “central processing unit,” the circuitry acting as the brains of an electronic device.
CR conversion rate Our demo has a 23% CR.” CR is a popular KPI (acronym definition below).
CTA call to action “We need to add a CTA to this blog post so readers download our guide.”
CTR click-through rate “We can boost the CTR by modernizing the post’s design.” This ratio shows how often people who see a digital ad actually click it. It’s an online advertising term.
EOD end of day “I’ll circle back at EOD.”
EOQ end of quarter “I hope to see results by EOQ.”
EOW end of week “Please turn that in by EOW.”

 

A text message using the abbreviation EOW for "end of week"

ETA estimated time of arrival “The vendor’s new ETA is 4pm.” The term ETA is most frequently used in the travel industry, such as in air traffic control. It’s also used in casual business conversations across industries.
KPI key performance indicator “Resolution speed is the KPI we’re most interested in tracking.” KPIs are always quantifiable; they must be able to be expressed as an amount or numerical value.
LOA leave of absence “Jane is taking an LOA that month.” LOA can also refer to a letter of authorization. “They still have to send over an LOA before we can process their account.”
LOE level of effort “Don’t worry about finishing that today, it’s low LOE so you can knock it out tomorrow.” LOE is commonly used as a project management term. You’ll most often run across it during the planning phase of a project.
MoM month over month “I’d like to see at least a 2% increase MoM.”
MTD month to date “We’ve gotten 1,465 website hits MTD.” MTD most often refers specifically to the time period between the first day of the current month and the last full business day before the current date.
NUAL not urgent at all “That project is NUAL, feel free to prioritize elsewhere.”

 

Not urgent at all, used in a business SMS

OOO out of the office “I’ll be OOO from Wednesday to Friday, but I can reconnect with you next Monday. ” Microsoft’s corporate organization has used the acronym OOF instead of OOO. It means “out of facility.”
PTO paid time off “Jane is taking PTO from Nov. 1 to Nov. 15.” PTO is used interchangeably with paid time off and personal time off. The acronym remains the same.
QA quality assurance “How did that broken product pass the QA team?”
RACI a responsibility matrix (stands for responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed) “Has this been mapped out with RACI?” RACI was introduced in the 1950s and originally called “Linear Responsibility Charting.” Today, it is also called the Decision Rights Matrix or Responsibility Charting. RACI has plenty of variations, including RASCI, ARCI, and DACI.
ROI return on investment “Segmenting their email campaigns led to a 20% increase in ROI.”
SME subject matter expert “We need to consult an SME—this isn’t an area of our expertise.” SME can also refer to a small and mid-size enterprise. This refers to businesses that meet certain government-dictated criteria. E.g., “SMEs sometimes become large enterprises.”

 

Text message with the abbreviation SME or "subject matter expert"

TOS terms of service “Can you review the TOS before the vendor arrives?” The acronym TOS has become a meme on platforms like Twitch. Users will spam a user (often using this acronym) if that user breaks the platform’s TOS.
UAT user acceptance testing “I think the feature is ready for UAT.” UAT is one of several names for the last phase of the software testing process. It is also called beta testing, application testing, or end-user testing.
UX user experience “That website has a bad UX.” Don Norman coined the term “user experience” for his group at Apple Computer in 1993.
WFH work from home “Hey, I’m going to WFH today. Email me if you need me.” Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more businesses have adopted a remote work policy. These are often casually called WFH policies.
YTD year to date “We have boosted revenue by 5% YTD.”

 

When Should You Use Text Abbreviations?

Now that you know about many of the top text abbreviations, you may be tempted to use them all the time. But abbreviations are appropriate in certain situations—and not in others. It’s important to understand the texting etiquette involved.

With Family and Friends

You shouldn’t worry about using abbreviations with friends and family. After all, they should feel comfortable speaking up if they don’t understand the abbreviation immediately. If you have a family member who might become overwhelmed or angry if they don’t understand an abbreviation, refrain from using them with that particular person.

With Colleagues

Consider your audience before sending a text abbreviation to a colleague. A coworker who is the same age as you or is close to you will probably feel comfortable using them with you. But your boss is a different matter. Do you want your boss to be Googling “what does HMU mean in text” when he or she could be having a deeper conversation with you about the excellent work you’re doing?

With Customers

Don’t use abbreviations with a customer. There’s a chance they might not understand them, and you don’t want to confuse customers when you’re trying to connect with them. That being said, you can use a well-known text abbreviation or two if your customers use multiple abbreviations. Mirroring people can help form a powerful connection; mirroring customer language is a simple way to strengthen their relationship with your brand. Even if you use an abbreviation or two with a customer who clearly loves them, don’t use too many. You never know which abbreviations a customer will understand and which they won’t.

TL;DR

Text abbreviations are shortened versions of words or phrases. People use them to communicate through electronic msgs faster. This guide gives you a comprehensive review of the most popular abbreviations, so you can navigate modern SMS conversations with ease.

 

Want answers to more questions like what does LOL mean in texting? Explore our blog.

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