What Are Some Common Abbreviations Used in Text Messaging?

BBS stands for "be back soon" in common text parlance.
In text messaging, a smile can be written as :) or =).
LOL is a common abbreviation in text messaging meaning laugh out loud.
"X" means "kiss" in text messaging.
Most text messaging abbreviations are acronyms.
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  • Originally Written By: Cathy Rogers
  • Revised By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 July 2014
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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: Alright
  • 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.


Discuss this Article

Post 118

what does _ _ mean?

Post 117

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

Post 116

what does == mean?

Post 115

HTML - hyper text markup language.

Post 113

What does WOOF mean in text/email abbreviation?

Post 112

What does tgat stand for in texting?

Post 111

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.

Post 110

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

Post 109

What does signing the note with wnxo mean?

Post 108

what * means?

Post 107

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

Post 105

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

Post 104

What does geexe$ mean?

Post 102

t'row = Tomorrow

Post 101

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


Post 99

What does uiu mean?

Post 98

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

Post 97

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

Post 96

what does 10:-D♥ mean?

Post 95

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.

Post 94

What does bfit mean?

Post 90

What does b-) mean?

Post 87

love at first sight = la1s

Post 86

What does && mean?

Post 85

what is :D

Post 84

What does "URT" mean?

Post 83

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

Post 80

what does =*} mean?

Post 72

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

Post 71

<\3 means?

Post 70

what does def mean in texting mode?

Post 69

@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.

Post 67

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

Post 66

what does this mean ^~^ in text messaging?

Post 65

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.

Post 64

wbu? = what about you?

w8 = wait

Post 63

ttyl=talk to you later

brb= Be right back

ur= your

r= are

u= you

pce= peace

w.e.= whatever

Post 62

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

Post 60

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

Post 59

What does "sjurt lal" mean when texting?

Post 57

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

Post 56

What's *q

Post 55

What does LOLFISH mean?

Drvin Pls CB- Driving please call back.

Post 54

what does :/ mean in text messaging?

Post 53

What does /n/ and /ni/ mean?

Post 52

What is ({}) ?

Post 51

What does m^m mean?

Post 50

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

Post 49

what does </3 mean?

Post 48

What does slow stand for?

Post 47

What does :) mean?

Post 46

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.

Post 45

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

Post 44

What is rotflmfao?

Post 43

What does TCL mean?

Post 42

what does this abbreviation mean ({})

Post 41

angeltouch22 - dm is - don't matter

Post 40
Post 37

What is smhslt?

Post 36

What do (><) texting symbols mean?

Post 34

what's :-P

Post 31

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.

Post 30

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

Post 29

aamof= as a matter of fact

Post 27

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

Post 25

What does



Post 24

"what" means Who has a turtle.

Just kidding.

What does AAMOF mean?

Post 23

:X means kiss

Post 22

What does "What" mean in text talk?

Post 21

What is BIM?

Post 20

smh means 'shaking my head'

Post 19

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

Post 17

What does this symbol mean? :X

Post 16

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

Post 15

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.

Post 14

What does DDX mean?

Post 13

What is 2/2 and 2/3?

Post 11

what does smh mean?

Post 10

this list is 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.

Post 9

it's long.

Post 8

What does sss mean?

Post 7

What is IM2?

Post 5

What does HTML mean in texting?

Post 4

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

Post 2

What is dm?

Post 1

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

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