Internet slang

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Internet users have developed many slang terms over the years. Many of these terms originated as keystroke-saving acronyms but are often written in lower case:

  • AFAIK---as far as I know
  • BRB-- be right back (usually used in chats and on an instant messanger service)
  • BTW---by the way
  • IANAL---I am not a lawyer. Usually used before giving legal advice
  • IIRC---if I recall correctly
  • IMHO---in my humble opinion. Also IMNSHO---in my no-so-humble opinion.
  • LOL---laughing out loud, or lots of laughs (a reply to something amusing)
  • NM-- never mind
  • OOC---out-of-character. Used on MUDs and other role-playing games. Also IC for in-character.
  • RL---real life. Used in MUD settings.
  • ROTFL---rolling on the floor laughing (a reply to something extremely amusing)
  • ROTFLMAO---rolling on the floor laughing my ass off
  • RTFM---read the fucking manual (often sanitized to "fine manual" or similar). The frequent reply to a request for basic help from newbies who have not attempted to find the answer for themselves.

Others express concepts peculiar to the Net:

  • newbie---a new user. Not a pejorative term (but see RTFM, preceding).
  • cluebie---an experienced user.
  • guru---an expert in some technical topic, such as as C programming or Unix system administration
  • FAQ---frequently asked question, or a list of frequently asked questions with answers. Never seems to be written in small letters.
  • troll---a person who deliberately stirs up trouble (see article).
  • lurker--- one who reads an email list or a message board but does not participate in the discussion

The peculiar thing about internet abbreviations is that many people make them up on the fly, therefore these abbreviations can often be confusing, and impossible to completly cover without being impossibly meticulate. This type of on-the-spot abbreviating leads to doldrums of such things as; OTP (on the phone), PO (pissed off), or the the more common, OPTD (outside petting the dog). Internet writing is, by it's nature, difficult to interpret, especially in chatrooms or on instant messaging, because much of it is quickly input, and many assume, falsely, their audience knows their body language. For instance; a LOL may be taken as genuine laughter or sarcasm, or as "whatever, stay away from me." So, for the sake of accurate and easily understandable communication, it is best to be as explicit as possible and make an effort to get your point across. Smilies such as :) can also be used to clarify emotional intent in internet messages.

A comprehensive dictionary of Net slang and associated Net lore is Eric S. Raymond's The Jargon File, found at