Internet Short forms

Short forms on the internet abound. By now, you should know what LOL, LMAO, and OMG mean (if you don’t, there’s no helping you).

But new abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms crop up every day, and you might have missed a few of them.

Here’s a definitive* list of every short form on the internet ever (and we’ll try to update it from time to time).

*not definitive at all

FUN FACT: The difference between an initialism and an acronym is all about how you pronounce them.

In an initialism, you pronounce the individual letters – think CIA, DVD, VCR.

Acronyms, instead, are read and spoken as a word – NASA, NAFTA, or hazmat.

Interestingly, what we call abbreviations are actually usually initialisms (now you know!)

The following will be tagged with an (i) for initialism and (a) for abbreviation


What it means: Away from keyboard

What it really means: Don’t send me anything, I’m not there.



What it means: Ask me anything

What it really means: It’s a popular subreddit (read: forum) where celebrities and personalities will answer questions submitted by forum users. Great AMA = great press. Bad AMA = internet shame.



What it means: At the moment

What it really means: Hyper-immediate, like literally right now. Or “today”-ish.



What it means: Bad-ass mother f***er.

What it really means: This one’s pretty self-explanatory.



What it means: Best friends forever.

What it really means: May or may not be a best friend forever.



What it means: By the way

What it really means: By the way



What it means: Bump up my post.

What it really means: Used as a way to boost a page’s ranking by putting it higher up on the index. “I like this post and it should be seen by more people, but I have nothing else to say about it.”



What it means: Direct Message

What it really means: Those annoying email functions on every social media/networking site ever. Alternatively, if you hear “slide into DMs” it means hitting on someone through DM.



What it means: Fear of missing out

What it really means: That feeling when you don’t want to put on real pants and leave the house, but don’t want to miss anything either.



What it means: For your information

What it really means: “Just so you know”



What it means: How about you?

What it really means: I’m too lazy to ask you a real, insightful question.



What it means: In case you missed it.

What it really means: Here’s some info or stuff that happened recently but I don’t pretend to be an authority on pop culture and current events or anything but still feel like you should probably have seen this by now but if you haven’t here it is you’re welcome.



What it means: In my opinion

What it really means: I’m about to say something racist



What it means: In real life

What it really means: Everywhere but the internet



What it means: Let me know

What it really means: Please bail on plans, I have 3 more episodes of Stranger Things to watch and I don’t want to put on pants.



What it means: Not much

What it really means: Either “stop talking to me” or actually “not much”.



What it means: Not safe for work

What it really means: Don’t let your mom check your browser history.



What it means: Original poster

What it really means: Usually it precedes an insult to OP’s mother. Interestingly, lots of forum or image-sharing sites incorporate an OP-tagging function so you don’t have to scroll to find their name.


OP (alternative)

What it means: Overpowered

What it really means: When a playable character in a videogame is a little better than the other playable characters. Or the opposing player just isn’t as good. Sorry.



What it means: Throwback Thursday

What it really means: It’s a vehicle for showing old photos on social media. It’s a weird faux pas to post them on another day of the week.



What it means: That feeling when…

What it really means: It’s a vehicle for what the poster thinks is a great meme.



What it means: Today I learned

What it really means: Here’s a fact I didn’t know until today!



What it means: Too long; didn’t read

What it really means: Your post is too long and you should feel bad. Or, if it’s a heading, “Here’s a summary!”


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