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Instant Messaging Lingo: Shorthand Terms for IMs

written by: Regina Woodard•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 1/8/2011

AFK, LOL,BRB...these are some of the more common instant messaging lingo that many people use as they type away to friends, family, and co-workers. If you're just getting into the IM craze, you may be confused on what all of these instant messaging abbreviations mean or even stand for.

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    Welcome to the world of instant messaging! If you've just started using one of the popular chat systems or you just got yourself a cell phone that text, you may have noticed that your friends and family are typing words that don't seem to make sense. Perhaps your sister told you she was LMFAO or your gamer friends are AFK; if you've just entered in the world of online chatting, you may have found that the instant messaging lingo is completely confusing at times, IMHO.

    Learn what some of the more common and popular instant messaging abbreviations mean and stand for.

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    What Do These Things Mean?

    The great thing about instant messaging is the fact that you can keep in touch with many of your friends, family, and even co-workers Instant Messaging Lingo: Shorthand Terms for IMs by just sitting on one side of the screen. IMs, as they are called, allow for people to chat with others in another city, another state, and even another country, hence the term 'chatting'. Usually IM is used for a quick word or two between people and with that, messages sometimes need to be shortened as well; in the age of the Twitter 140 characters, usually typing out a whole sentence when you just want to tell people you're going to the restroom or getting food can be long and tiresome.

    This is a list of the more common and most used instant messaging lingo that is used both in IMs, chat (both chat rooms and online games), and text messaging.

    AFK - Away From Keyboard; usually used within online games to signal to other players that a person has moved away from the computer for whatever reason (bathroom break, food, phone call, etc). Depending on the video game, this may display when others see the character.

    AFAIK - As Far As I Know; usually used within chatrooms or online forums. This is a person's way of stating that they are/were aware of a situation, but that since the time they learned of it, the situation may have changed. For example, someone says, "AFAIK, they were still dating a few months ago."

    ATM - At The Moment; used in either response or in a question on whether someone is busy. For example, "Are you busy ATM?" or "I'm questing ATM."

    ASL; a/s/l - Age, Sex, Location; usually used in chatrooms to tell people what a person's age is, their gender, and where they are from.

    BRB - Be Right Back; various uses, signifies that someone is about to step away from the keyboard or is going to do something else for the moment. A bit like AFK, only this is a quick trip (like to speak to someone), where AFK is more than a five minute period.

    BCNU - (I'll) Be Seeing You; various uses, basically a goodbye to someone that you plan on speaking to again.

    BTW - By The Way; various uses, used when someone has an afterthought to something. For example, "BTW, I turned in that paperwork for you yesterday."

    CYA/CUL8R - See You, See You Later; much like BCNU, a goodbye to someone that you plan on seeing or speaking to at a later date.

    FTW - For the Win; used when something good happens or when someone really likes a comment or post. Mostly used in forums and boards. For example, "74 Twitter followers, FTW!"

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    GTG/GTR - Got To Go, Got To Run; a quick goodbye when someone needs to go in a hurry. Can also be used as 'good to go'.

    IDK - I Don't Know; a person does not know the answer or isn't aware of a situation.

    IIRC - If I Remember Correctly; in response or a statement in which someone may remember something. For example, "IIRC, they had a Q & A in Denver last year."

    IMO/IMHO - In My Opinion, In My Humble (or Honest) Opinion; used when someone is dispensing advice on something. For example, "IMHO, I think you should just stop doing it."

    Continue on to the next page where you can find and learn even more IM abbr!

    Image credit @ author's Trillian account

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    In this second installment on learning the IM lingo, Gina 66 continues with some of the more common instant messaging abbreviations, what they stand for, and what they mean.
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    More Abbr!

    JK - Just Kidding; used when someone is joking around about something.

    KIT - Keep In Touch; used when someone would like someone to keep in contact, usually with family or friends far away.

    LMBO/LMAO/LMFAO - Laughing My Butt Off, Laughing My A** Off, Laughing My F****** A** Off; used in response to something humorous that has been said or posted.

    NP - No problem; used in response for helping someone do something or figure out something. For example -

    • Person 1 - Thanks for the help!
    • Person 2 - NP

    OMW/OTW - On My Way, On The Way; usually used in online gaming when a person is headed for an area, usually to group with other people. Is also used in text messaging when stating you are headed towards a place or a person.

    OMG/OMFG - Oh My God, Oh My Gosh, Oh My F****** God; used in exclamation about something. For example, "OMFG, did you see that guy the other night?"

    ORLY - Oh really; used in either a response or question about something. Can also be used in a sarcastic manner. "ORLY?"

    Peeps/PPL - People; an abbreviation for the word 'people'. For example, "To all my peeps on Facebook, I love you!"

    PLS/PLZ - Please; an abbreviation for please.

    RL/IRL - Real Life, In Real Life; used when speaking about life outside of the online world (in other words, real life). For example, "Sorry I haven't been around, had some issues IRL."

    ROTFL/ROTF/ROFL/ROTFLMAO - Rolling On The Floor Laughing, Rolling On The Floor, Rolling On Floor Laughing, Rolling On The Floor Laughing My A** Off; like LMAO, used in response to something humorous that was said or posted.

    SOL - S*** Out Of Luck; used when a situation occurs that is problematic for someone. For example, "I am SOL for rent this month."

    SRLY - Seriously; used in either a response or a question in regards to something that seems unbelievable. Can sometimes be used in a sarcastic remark. "SRLY?"

    SSL - Sorry So Long; used in apology when a message or post is much longer than the writer intended.

    STB - Sorry To Bother; something I made up when needing to interrupt something, usually in text form to someone when I'm aware they are busy at the moment. For example, "STB, but when you have the chance, give Mrs. Iverson a call."

    TC - Take Care; used in response to someone leaving a chat session or game.

    TMI - Too Much Information; used in response when someone says something that is reveals too much about them or the people they know; usually inappropriate. For example, "SRLY, TMI right there."

    TTFN - Ta Ta For Now; used when saying goodbye to people.

    THX/TY/TYVM - Thanks, Thank You, Thank You Very Much; used when thanking someone for doing something.

    WB - Welcome Back; used when a person returns to a message or chat room/forum board

    WTF/WTH/WT? - What The F***, What The Hell, What The...?; used when something doesn't seem right in the world or when something has gone horribly wrong. For example, "WTF Windows!" or "WT? Why would you do that? WTH, man!"

    These are of course only a few of the many shorthand stylings of IM etiquette that you can use to impress your friends and others. Try them today, and see what happens. URGTG, so GL!