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What are Some Common Abbreviations Used in Text Messaging?

By Cathy Rogers
Updated May 16, 2024
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Most common abbreviations used in text messaging are made by taking the first letter of a word or each word in a phrase. Others incorporate symbols to spell words or make small pictures. A few were used even before text messaging existed, like ASAP for "as soon as possible." Many of the abbreviations used in text messaging are easily recognizable even by those who are not technologically savvy, and are also used in email, social networking, and instant messaging. Most people abbreviate in text messages for convenience, but some hold out and insist on correct English and grammar in texting, though the length limitations on text messages can make this difficult.

Shortened Phrases and Words

Many of the common abbreviations used in text messaging are shortened versions of expressions, such as AAMOF for "as a matter of fact" IMHO for "in my humble opinion," or PLMK for please let me know." Other common terms include:

  • BBS: Be back soon
  • BBT: Be back tomorrow
  • BIB: Boss is back
  • CM: Call me
  • CYE: Check your email
  • DIKU: Do I know you?
  • F2F: Face to face
  • HB: Hurry back
  • JFF: Just for fun
  • KOTC: Kiss on the cheek
  • LOL: Laugh out loud or Lots of love
  • OMG: Oh my God!
  • OOTO: Out of the office
  • PSOS: Parents standing over shoulder
  • PU: That stinks!
  • SLAP: Sounds like a plan
  • TMB: Text me back
  • TXT: Text
  • UGTBK: You’ve got to be kidding

Other abbreviations used in text messaging represent shortened versions of commonly used words, such as B4 (before), NE (any), or W? (why). Other abbreviations used in text messaging for frequently used words include:

  • AIGHT: All right
  • GB: Goodbye
  • GL: Good luck
  • HV: Have
  • K or KK: Okay
  • M8: Mate
  • ONL: Online
  • OVA: Over
  • PEEPS or PPL: People
  • PLS: Please
  • PZ: Peace
  • TTLY: Totally
  • W? Why
  • X: Kiss
  • Z: Zero

Abbreviations about People

Other abbreviations used in text messaging represent people or relationships, like BIL (brother in law), SO (significant other), or DWF (divorced white female). Many of these are also used on the Internet, particularly on dating websites, forums, and online classified ads. Some additional terms indicating people include:

  • B/F: Boyfriend
  • BFAW: Best friend at work
  • DD: Dear daughter
  • DH: Dear husband
  • DS: Dear son
  • DW: Dear wife
  • G/F: Girlfriend
  • GRL: Girl

Symbols and Emoticons

Some abbreviations used in text messaging incorporate symbols to represent words or phrases, like 411 for "need information," 121 for "private chat" and ?4U for "question for you." Fewer start with symbols, but some others are <3, which represents a sideways heart; 4COL for "for crying out loud," and 2G2BT for "too good to be true."

Emoticons, also known as smiley faces, are series of characters that represent a facial expression or symbol. Common emoticons include:

  • :) or =) or ^_^ : smiling or happy
  • :D : laughing
  • :( : sad
  • :X : kiss or lips sealsed
  • (~o~) or Z/ : sleepy
  • (>_<) : embarrassed
  • @>-->-- : rose
  • %) : confused
  • <3 : heart

Debate about Abbreviating

People tend to use abbreviations when texting because of character limits on text messages, and because abbreviations are quicker to write than full words. This is particularly true on phones that don't have alpha keyboards, since the user has to hit a key several times to cycle through to a letter or number. Other people hate abbreviating, and feel that it's overly casual, rude, or disrespectful. Additionally, some feel that texting with incorrect grammar or abbreviations can damage people's writing and communication skills, particularly those of teens.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
By anon1002541 — On Dec 15, 2019

what does nicsu mean

By anon1001129 — On Mar 12, 2019

What does mhhm mean?

By anon998279 — On May 07, 2017

What does 10 dots in the middle of a cloud mean.

By anon966542 — On Aug 20, 2014

What does <9 mean in text?

By anon947818 — On Apr 27, 2014

what does _ _ mean?

By anon937246 — On Mar 04, 2014

What does 87 and the emoji of two hands up thumb-to-thumb mean?

By anon930873 — On Feb 06, 2014

what does == mean?

By anon359239 — On Dec 16, 2013

HTML - hyper text markup language.

By anon353513 — On Oct 30, 2013

What does WOOF mean in text/email abbreviation?

By anon347183 — On Sep 04, 2013

What does tgat stand for in texting?

By amypollick — On Jul 24, 2013

anon342766: According to my research, "57" means to have sex. With a 14 year old in the house, do yourself a favor and get acquainted with the Urban Dictionary. You'll need it.

By anon342766 — On Jul 23, 2013

I have a 14 year old and read his texts. What does the number 57 mean?

By anon340242 — On Jul 01, 2013

What does signing the note with wnxo mean?

By anon336621 — On May 30, 2013

what * means?

By anon333724 — On May 07, 2013

What does [][][][] mean?

By anon309422 — On Dec 16, 2012

If someone texts me the number 42, what does it mean?

By anon307071 — On Dec 03, 2012

What does geexe$ mean?

By anon303647 — On Nov 15, 2012

t'row = Tomorrow

By anon296974 — On Oct 14, 2012

What does it mean when someone sends you a text with just a period?

.

By anon291811 — On Sep 17, 2012

What does uiu mean?

By anon287211 — On Aug 24, 2012

This is a new one ::r.i.p mom:: Anyone know what it means?

By anon286265 — On Aug 20, 2012

On Facebook,I've seen a lot of people writing BOL instead of LOL. What does "BOL" mean?

By anon277176 — On Jun 28, 2012

what does 10:-D♥ mean?

By toolchick1 — On Jun 27, 2012

This is the best tutorial that this old broad could have gotten. I didn't really want to know all of this to text with but to understand whenever I'd see some of the punctuation shorties. Thank you everyone who responded. I learned so much. I love wiseGEEK. I have always gotten more info than I even thought was available. You all rock. Such positive feedback. No haters.

By anon274218 — On Jun 10, 2012

What does bfit mean?

By anon260151 — On Apr 09, 2012

What does b-) mean?

By anon252204 — On Mar 04, 2012

love at first sight = la1s

By anon251483 — On Mar 01, 2012

What does && mean?

By anon250191 — On Feb 24, 2012

what is :D

By anon249702 — On Feb 21, 2012

What does "URT" mean?

By anon249410 — On Feb 20, 2012

What does this mean? X : 9, K :10, A :9

By anon242657 — On Jan 24, 2012

what does =*} mean?

By anon226854 — On Nov 02, 2011

This was on a text to my daughter. Des it have a meaning? *~*~*

By anon226289 — On Oct 31, 2011

<\3 means?

By anon213048 — On Sep 09, 2011

what does def mean in texting mode?

By anon203509 — On Aug 05, 2011

@anon4165: IM2 probably means, "I am too."

@anon38978: HTML is used for webpages, maybe someone was trying to direct you to a website.

@anon55822: 2/2 or 2/3 could mean 2 out of 2 or 2nd of the 3rd in a series. it depends on how it's used.

@anon92314: :-P is a smiley face sticking its tongue out.

By anon174960 — On May 11, 2011

what does X9 mean? I just got this and it's so confusing.

By anon170664 — On Apr 27, 2011

what does this mean ^~^ in text messaging?

By anon165506 — On Apr 05, 2011

I think that text symbols come in handy when your in a hurry or just messing around but there are some times when you should just spell it out so they understand exactly what you're saying.

By anon163408 — On Mar 27, 2011

wbu? = what about you?

w8 = wait

By anon163407 — On Mar 27, 2011

ttyl=talk to you later

brb= Be right back

ur= your

r= are

u= you

pce= peace

w.e.= whatever

By anon159919 — On Mar 14, 2011

if you're texting and you want to kiss someone then you put :* the ":" is the eyes and the "*" is the lips.

By anon159125 — On Mar 10, 2011

@19: "pp" means people and "n" means no or know

By Lindsay87 — On Jan 05, 2011

What does "sjurt lal" mean when texting?

By anon138428 — On Jan 01, 2011

What does ^ mean when posted below a comment on Facebook?

By anon138123 — On Dec 30, 2010

What's *q

By anon133786 — On Dec 12, 2010

What does LOLFISH mean?

Drvin Pls CB- Driving please call back.

By anon131946 — On Dec 04, 2010

what does :/ mean in text messaging?

By anon129946 — On Nov 26, 2010

What does /n/ and /ni/ mean?

By anon124687 — On Nov 06, 2010

What is ({}) ?

By anon124396 — On Nov 05, 2010

What does m^m mean?

By anon123579 — On Nov 02, 2010

<3 is a heart. and <\3 is a broken heart.

By anon123362 — On Nov 01, 2010

what does </3 mean?

By anon122731 — On Oct 29, 2010

What does slow stand for?

By anon121229 — On Oct 23, 2010

What does :) mean?

By anon114420 — On Sep 28, 2010

Some of your comments are quite surprising. You realize that the longer a text message gets, the more likely it is to be split up into two or even three separate messages. Some people get charged for sending/receiving text messages, per message.

If a person does not have specific data packages from their cell phone provider, this can get quite costly, fast. I have seen companies charge as much as 25 or 30 cents per message. Therefore, the point of messaging in the first place is to be as short, concise, and to the point as possible.

People don't mean to confuse others with this lingo but it saves time and money for a lot of people to use abbreviations; and if you think about it, most of them are pretty easy to understand and make perfect sense in the context of the message. By the way, no one ever answered the person who asked what roflmao means: It's "Rolling on the floor laughing my bleeping Bleep off". See how much space (and money) was saved by typing it rotflmao?!

Signed- 30-something years old and electronically hip.

By anon113178 — On Sep 23, 2010

it is way easier to understand the abbreviations if you use common ones.

By anon107683 — On Aug 31, 2010

What is rotflmfao?

By anon106606 — On Aug 26, 2010

What does TCL mean?

By anon105637 — On Aug 21, 2010

what does this abbreviation mean ({})

By anon104127 — On Aug 15, 2010

angeltouch22 - dm is - don't matter

By anon102900 — On Aug 10, 2010

dmv?

By anon102089 — On Aug 06, 2010

What is smhslt?

By anon100186 — On Jul 29, 2010

What do (><) texting symbols mean?

By anon92314 — On Jun 27, 2010

what's :-P

By anon88057 — On Jun 02, 2010

The main reason why people use the text slang, is simply because they are lazy. they cannot be bothered to write out later, or lots of love and even what are you up to? It's nothing more, nothing less. It's just laziness.

By anon84438 — On May 15, 2010

:X can also mean keeping your mouth closed or when you have said something you shouldn't have said.

By anon84436 — On May 15, 2010

aamof= as a matter of fact

By anon82843 — On May 07, 2010

well if you have a ) by ; it signifies a wink so it looks like this ;).

By anon82282 — On May 05, 2010

What does

;

signify?

By anon80522 — On Apr 27, 2010

"what" means Who has a turtle.

Just kidding.

What does AAMOF mean?

By scotthoins — On Apr 21, 2010

:X means kiss

By anon74742 — On Apr 03, 2010

What does "What" mean in text talk?

By anon74366 — On Apr 01, 2010

What is BIM?

By anon72649 — On Mar 23, 2010

smh means 'shaking my head'

By anon71640 — On Mar 19, 2010

does anyone know what PPN means? My teenage son uses it.

By anon64354 — On Feb 06, 2010

What does this symbol mean? :X

By anon62641 — On Jan 27, 2010

yes type the words. i saw people wrote their cover letters for jobs using these abbreviations. that just shows how lazy you are!

By anon57470 — On Dec 23, 2009

OMegaWolf747, You get a limited amount of characters to send a message and spelling out every word the full way will take up too much space and not to mention the waste of time of having to spell out longer words.

By anon56974 — On Dec 18, 2009

What does DDX mean?

By anon55822 — On Dec 09, 2009

What is 2/2 and 2/3?

By anon54564 — On Dec 01, 2009

what does smh mean?

By anon51733 — On Nov 08, 2009

this list is nothing..you left out:

ROTFL - Rolling On The Floor Laughing

LMAO - Laughing My Ass Off

OMGsh (same as OMG)- Oh My Gosh

L8r - Later

WTF - What the f*

WTH - What the hell

there's more, but some of these abbreviations aren't even used nowadays.

By anon50283 — On Oct 27, 2009

it's long.

By anon47258 — On Oct 03, 2009

What does sss mean?

By anon41165 — On Aug 13, 2009

What is IM2?

By anon38978 — On Jul 29, 2009

What does HTML mean in texting?

By anon38925 — On Jul 29, 2009

DM- doesn't matter, and i don't understand why people don't just type normal words rather than confuse ohers by using silly little abbreviations.

By angeltouch22 — On Apr 21, 2009

What is dm?

By OmegaWolf747 — On Jul 29, 2008

Text talk is the bane of the orthographer. What is wrong with just typing out the words?

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