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Acronyms and Initialisms

Here is a useful list of acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations you may come across in e-mails, chat rooms, online games, instant messaging, or elsewhere on the Internet or in phone text messages.

If you often find yourself baffled by TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) and ETLAs (Extended Three Letter Acronyms) as you surf the 'Net, bookmark this page and you will always have a handy dictionary at your fingertips. The lists contain various sorts of abbreviation, including acronyms, which are words made from the ititial letters of other words, and pronounced as a word themselves, and initialisms, which are like acronyms, but pronounced by spelling out the letters individually. (This means that TLA and ETLA are actually initialisms, not acronyms.)

Common Abbreviations

In this first list, you will find the abbreviations that are most commonly encountered.

  AFKAway From Keyboard
  ASL?Age? Sex? Location?
  B4Before
  BAKBack At Keyboard
  BBLBe Back Later
  BCNUBe seeing you
  BRBBe Right Back
  BTWBy The Way
  FAQsFrequently Asked Questions
  IMHOIn My Humble Opinion
  L8RLater
  LOLLaughs Out Loud
  MOF?Male Or Female?
  NM or N/MNever Mind (or Not Much)
  NP or N/PNo Problem
  OMGOh My God
  ROFL or ROTFLRolling On (The) Floor, Laughing
  TTFNTa Ta For Now
  URYour / You're
  W/With

Although all these abbreviations are given in upper case letters (as acronyms and initialisms should be, standardly), you are just as likely to enounter many of them written, in informal situations, in lower case characters.

Other Abbreviations

There are many more widely used abbreviations on the Internet. (Note that abbreviations, such as the initialism ASAP, are not included here because they are well known outside the domain of the Internet.)

  AFAICTAs Far As I Can Tell
  AFAIKAs Far As I Know
  AIUIAs I Understand It
  BSTBut Seriously Though
  BTDTBeen There, Done That
  CULSee you Later
  DWISNWIDDo What I Say, Not What I Do
  DYJHIWDon't You Just Hate It When
  ETLAExtended Three Letter Acronym
  F2FFace to Face
  FOAFFriend Of A Friend
  FWIWFor What It's Worth
  FYIFor Your Information
  GAGo Ahead
  GALGet A Life
  GIGOGarbage In, Garbage Out
  IANALI Am Not A Lawyer
  IIRCIf I Recall Correctly
  IMEIn My Experience
  IMNSHOIn My Not-So-Humble Opinion
  IMOIn My Opinion
  IOWIn Other Words
  IRLIn Real Life
  ISTMIt Seems To Me
  ITROIn The Region Of
  IWBNIIt Would Be Nice If
  IYSWIMIf You See What I Mean
  JAMJust A Minute
  KISSKeep It Simple, Stupid
  MOTOSMember Of The Opposite Sex
  NALOPKTNot A Lot Of People Know That
  OICOh, I See
  OTOHOn The Other Hand
  OTTOver The Top
  RTFMRead The F****** Manual
  RUOKAre you OK?
  SITDStill In The Dark
  TANSTAAFLThere Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
  TIAThanks In Advance
  TICTongue In Cheek
  TLAThree Letter Acronym
  TNXThanks
  TPTBThe Powers That Be
  TTYLTalk To You Later
  TVMThanks Very Much
  WIBNIWouldn't It Be Nice If
  WRTWith Regard To
  WTHWhat The Hell (similarly: WTF)
  WYSIWYGWhat You See Is What You Get
  YABAYet Another Bloody Acronym
  YHMYou Have Mail

Our Visitors' Suggestions

Since this page was first published on Fun-with-words.com, dozens of our visitors have e-mailed to submit abbreviations they felt should be included. This final list is a selection of those submissions. We have had to omit very many as they were deemed too rude for inclusion. (We have only included abbreviations of phrases containing rude words where they are in very common usage.)

  APUAs Per Usual
  BBIAFBe Back In A Few
  BFBoyfriend
  GFGirlfriend
  GFETEGrinning From Ear To Ear
  GGGood Game
  GLGood Luck
  GTG or G2GGot To Go
  HAGNHave A Good Night
  HAGOHave A Good One
  HFHave Fun
  HTHHope This Helps
  ICI see
  IMAOIn My Arrogant Opinion
  J/JJust Joking
  J/KJust Kidding
  J/PJust Playing
  LMAOLaughing My A*** Off
  ROTFLMAORolling On The Floor, Laughing My A*** Off
  SSmiling
  SDSweet Dreams
  TCTake Care
  TMIToo Much Information
  TYThank You
  YMMVYour Mileage May Vary

Have we left something out? If you think you know an acronym, initialism, or other abbreviation widely used on the Internet that ought to be included in this dictionary, please send it to us.

And if you keep encountering a baffling abbreviation that you cannot find in the list above, feel free to send it to us and we'll do our best to figure it out for you. (It may be one that we know, but have not included because it is too rude or obscure.)

More on Smileys and Internet Language

See also our Dictionary of Smileys for more on these emoticons used in chat rooms and e-mails.

You will also find fun books of smilies, as well as comprehensive guides to internet terminology, in the Internet Language section of our online language book shop.

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