Photo: SFIO CRACHO (Shutterstock)
By now, we all know what NSFW, BTW, and TBH mean. (Right?) For social media aficionados, the list that follows may seem basic—but for those who don’t live online (or spend half their life texting), there are plenty of puzzling acronyms circulating rn. (Often in lowercase, making them even harder to spot.) It can be confusing to decipher.
If you’ve ever scratched your head trying to figure out what an abbreviation means, we’ve got you. Here’s a primer, or refresher, for PPL all along the social media acronym spectrum. (Note that this list doesn’t include business-oriented social media acronyms, such as UGC, PV, and CTR. Here, we’re focused on conversational ones.)
AF: As fuck. Anything can emphasized with a well-placed AF. I’m tired AF. It’s cold AF outside.
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AFAIK: As far as I know.
AMA: AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything.” Originating on Reddit as a host-less question-and-answer session, AMA is now a mainstream way to signal experts, celebrities, or influencers are open to answer any type of question.
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ASL: In polite terms, ASL means American Sign Language. For hook-up purposes on the internet, it means age/sex/location.
BBL: Brazilian Butt Lift. The cosmetic procedure of injecting fat from another area of the body into one’s caboose.
BMS: In literal terms, BMS stands for Broke My Scale. But it has nothing to do with weight. It’s a way of saying something is so good (pretty, usually) that it rates off the charts; they “broke the scale” of beauty measurement.
BTS: BTS is a kinda popular South Korean boy band, and by “kinda” we mean massively. So, sometimes, it means that . Its social media meaning, however, is behind the scenes—used when someone gives you an inside look into their lives or work.
DAE: Does anyone else...?
DYK: Did you know?
DM/PM: Direct message or private message.
ELI5: Explain like I’m 5. Give me the simplest explanation.
FML: Fuck my life. It’s midnight and I’m still at work, FML.
FFS: For fuck’s sake. A catchall exclamation of exasperation whose utility knows no bounds. FFS, you lost your keys again?! Stop saying these things to pregnant people, FFS .
FTFY: Fixed that for you. Used when someone wants to make a snarky correction of what someone else wrote.
FTW: For the win. Describes anything you want to cheer about. Spooky season, FTW!
GTG/G2G: Got to go. Peace out, basically.
GTR: Got to run.
HIFW: How I feel when...Often paired with a funny meme or GIF.
HMB: Hit me back. Reply to my missive.
HMU: Hit me up. Contact me—used often when making plans.
ICYMI: In case you missed it. A disclaimer when you’re sharing something not new.
IDC: I don’t care.
IDK: I don’t know.
IKR: I know, right? An affirmation. Friend: That guy was creepy af. You: Ikr?
ILY: I love you. (Don’t get any ideas.)
IMO: In my opinion. Or its more obsequious cousin: IMHO (in my humble opinion, or in my honest opinion). But we all know, once you add the “H” you’ve already jumped the humble shark.
IRL: In real life. Not just on a screen, where we (sadly) conduct most of our lives.
IYKYK: If you know, you know . Implies insider knowledge of a specific experience that most people do not, in fact, know about.
LMK: Let me know. (Wow, the internet really does not like spelling out the word know.)
MCM: Man crush Monday. Does anyone still do this? Hmb.
NGL: Not gonna lie. Used to preface an uncomfortable or awkward admission. NGL, I kinda like vegan cheese.
OFC: Of course. It’s taken me a good long while to rad this as “of course” instead of “office.” And TBH, not sure if I’m fully there yet.
NM: Not much. Not to be confused with...
NVM: Never mind.
OOTD: Outfit of the day.
RN: Right now. Where are you rn?
SMH: Shaking my head. Used to express dismay. Throw a “D” in there for more emphasis. SMDH: Shaking my damn head.
STG: Swear to god. If my ex texts me again, I stg...
TBH: To be honest.
TFW: That feeling when...Used to convey a relatable experience.
TIL: Today I learned. TIL pouring creamer in a mug before my coffee negates the need to stir it. 🤯
TL;DR/TLDR: Too long, didn’t read. Used to summarize lengthy content (just don’t use it in response to the person who wrote said content. Because, rude).
WBU: What about you?
WYD: What are you doing? (Besides getting ready to embarrass the teenagers in your life with your acronym game.)
YT: What has traditionally signified YouTube now doubles as an abbreviation for “white”—as in Caucasian.
The last few are unique to TikTok, for now. In time, they may grow to be used across other platforms:
IB: Inspired by. Used to denote your content was “inspired by” another creator (which is unfortunately often a euphemism for “copied from”).
IC: Idea credit. See above.
DC: Dance credit or dance choreography.
Chair emoji . Yes, this is not an acronym, but it’s caused such confusion since it burst on the scene in September that we’d be remiss not to mention it. What does it mean? Nothing. OK, not nothing. But nothing having to do with an actual chair. It was started as an inside joke by TikTok user @blank.antho who asked people to substitute the chair emoji for the crying laughing emoji to indicate when something is funny (and to cause chaos, which it has).
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