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.
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:
AFAIK: as far as I know
Ex. “AFAIK, she left the party ten minutes ago.”
AKA: also known as
Ex. “Joe, AKA our principal.”
AMA: ask me anything
Ex. “I have taken the test before, AMA.”
ASAP: as soon as possible
Ex. “Can I have that shipped ASAP?”
*Abbreviation history: 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.
Ex. “I turned off the stove b4 I left.”
Ex. “She left bc she was bored.”
BRB: be right back
Ex. “I need to find the shipping number. BRB.”
*Abbreviation history: 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
Ex. “BTW, the customer account help button isn’t working.”
DIY: do it yourself
Ex. “Is this supposed to be a DIY furniture setup, or is it a white-glove delivery?”
DM: direct message
Ex. “I sent him a DM on Instagram, but he hasn’t responded.”
Ex. “I thought that was an ESP good presentation.”
FTW: for the win
Ex. “That’s the Packers FTW!!”
FWIW: for what it’s worth
Ex. “FWIW, I prefer the red dress.”
FYI: for your information
Ex. “FYI, I just renewed my subscription before the account closed out on me.”
HBD: happy birthday
Ex. “HBD, Molly!”
HBU: how about you
Ex. “I’m tired, HBU?”
HMU: hit me up
Ex. “Can you HMU when you hear about delivery times?”
IDC: I don’t care
Ex. “IDC where we go for dinner.”
IDK: I don’t know
Ex. “IDK the order number.”
IMHO: in my humble opinion
Ex. “She’s wrong about that IMHO.”
*Abbreviation trivia: 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
Ex. “We should go Friday, IMO.”
ILY: I love you
Ex. “Thanks Mom, ILY.”
IRL: in real life
Ex. “Is there an associate I can chat with IRL?”
JK: just kidding
Ex. “You look ridiculous. JK.”
*Abbreviation history: 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.
LGTM: looks good to me
Ex. “LGTM. Go ahead and place the order.”
LMAO: laughing my a** off
Ex. “LMAO! I can’t believe I was using the wrong button all along!”
LMK: let me know
Ex. “LMK what time you’re thinking for dinner.”
*Abbreviation history: 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
Ex. “LOL I completely forgot that part of the instructions.”
*Abbreviation history: 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.
Ex. “Your last msg confused me.”
N/A: not applicable
Ex. “N/A. I don’t have a cat.”
NBD: no big deal
Ex. “I don’t mind that you missed the show, it’s NBD.”
NGL: not gonna lie
Ex. “You scared me, NGL.”
NP: no problem
Ex. “NP, I understand it’s not your fault.”
NVM: Never mind
Ex. “NVM, it’s working now.”
OMG: oh my god
Ex. “OMG I didn’t even think of that.”
*Abbreviation History: 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.
OMW: on my way
Ex. “I’m OMW now, will be there in 30 mins!”
Ex. “That seems rly late.”
RN: right now
Ex. “I can take a call rn if that works.”
ROFL: rolling on the floor laughing
Ex. “That’s too funny! ROFL.”
SGTM: sounds good to me
Ex. “I love that idea! SGTM.”
SMH: shaking my head
Ex. “I can’t believe you did that! SMH.”
SMS: short message service (texts)
Ex. “Can you send me the address through SMS?”
Ex. “She is SRSLY mad.”
SO: significant other
Ex. “Can I bring my SO to the party?
TBA: to be announced
Ex. “The event dates are TBA, but I think it’ll be sometime in November.”
TBH: to be honest
Ex. “TBH, I think I want to return it at this point.”
THX: thanks (also, TY: thank you)
Ex. “I got it in the mail, THX for sending!” (“TY for sending!”)
TIA: thanks in advance
Ex. “TIA for your help.”
TLDR: too long; didn’t read
Ex. “TLDR. Can you send a summary?”
*Abbreviation history: 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.
TMI: too much information
Ex. “I’m glad you’re feeling better, but also, TMI.”
Ex. “I have time TMRW to pick it up.”
TTFN: ta ta for now
Ex. “Got it, that’s all I needed. TTFN!”
TTYL: talk to you later
Ex. “I’ll message in once I find the part. TTYL”
TY: thank you
Ex. “TY for the support.”
TYSM: thank you so much
Ex. “TYSM for your help!”
“Do you have anything w/o dairy?”
YOLO: you only live once
Ex. “I should have stayed in and studied, but YOLO.”
YW: you’re welcome
Ex. “YW! I hope this helps other people with this problem, too.”
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:
COB: close of business
Ex. “I’ll have that report to you by COB.”
CPU: cost per unit
Ex. “I don’t think it’s worth the CPU.”
Note: CPU can also stand for “central processing unit,” the circuitry acting as the brains of an electronic device.
CTR: click-through rate
Ex. “We can boost the CTR by modernizing the post’s design.”
B2B: business to business
Ex. “She’s a B2B freelancer, so I’m sure she can write a blog post about marketing software.”
B2C: business to consumer
Ex. “We’re a B2C startup that sells dog costumes to pet owners.”
EOD: end of day
Ex. “I’ll circle back at EOD.”
EOW: end of week
Ex. “Please turn that in by EOW.”
ETA: estimated time of arrival
Ex. “The vendor’s new ETA is 4pm.”
MoM: month over month
Ex. “I’d like to see at least a 2% increase MoM.”
MTD: month to date
Ex. “We’ve gotten 1,465 hits MTD.”
NUAL: not urgent at all
Ex. “That project is NUAL, feel free to prioritize elsewhere.”
OOO: out of the office
Ex. “I’ll be OOO from Wednesday to Friday, but I can reconnect with you next Monday. ”
PTO: paid time off
Ex. “Jane is taking PTO from Nov. 1 to Nov. 15.”
ROI: return on investment
“Segmenting their email campaigns led to a 20% increase in ROI.”
SME: subject matter expert
Ex. “We need to consult an SME—this isn’t an area of our expertise.”
TOS: terms of service
Ex. “Can you review the TOS before the vendor arrives?”
UX: user experience
Ex. “That website has a bad UX.”
WFH: work from home
Ex. “Hey, I’m going to WFH today. Email me if you need me.”
YTD: year to date
Ex. “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.
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?
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.
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.