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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.
Emoticons are often used in texting to convey emotion.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Cathy Rogers
  • Revised By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 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

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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.

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Discuss this Article

anon966542
Post 121

What does <9 mean in text?

anon947818
Post 118

what does _ _ mean?

anon937246
Post 117

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

anon930873
Post 116

what does == mean?

anon359239
Post 115

HTML - hyper text markup language.

anon353513
Post 113

What does WOOF mean in text/email abbreviation?

anon347183
Post 112

What does tgat stand for in texting?

amypollick
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.

anon342766
Post 110

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

anon340242
Post 109

What does signing the note with wnxo mean?

anon336621
Post 108

what * means?

anon333724
Post 107

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

anon309422
Post 105

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

anon307071
Post 104

What does geexe$ mean?

anon303647
Post 102

t'row = Tomorrow

anon296974
Post 101

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

.

anon291811
Post 99

What does uiu mean?

anon287211
Post 98

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

anon286265
Post 97

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

anon277176
Post 96

what does 10:-D♥ mean?

toolchick1
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.

anon274218
Post 94

What does bfit mean?

anon260151
Post 90

What does b-) mean?

anon252204
Post 87

love at first sight = la1s

anon251483
Post 86

What does && mean?

anon250191
Post 85

what is :D

anon249702
Post 84

What does "URT" mean?

anon249410
Post 83

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

anon242657
Post 80

what does =*} mean?

anon226854
Post 72

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

anon226289
Post 71

<\3 means?

anon213048
Post 70

what does def mean in texting mode?

anon203509
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.

anon174960
Post 67

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

anon170664
Post 66

what does this mean ^~^ in text messaging?

anon165506
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.

anon163408
Post 64

wbu? = what about you?

w8 = wait

anon163407
Post 63

ttyl=talk to you later

brb= Be right back

ur= your

r= are

u= you

pce= peace

w.e.= whatever

anon159919
Post 62

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

anon159125
Post 60

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

Lindsay87
Post 59

What does "sjurt lal" mean when texting?

anon138428
Post 57

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

anon138123
Post 56

What's *q

anon133786
Post 55

What does LOLFISH mean?

Drvin Pls CB- Driving please call back.

anon131946
Post 54

what does :/ mean in text messaging?

anon129946
Post 53

What does /n/ and /ni/ mean?

anon124687
Post 52

What is ({}) ?

anon124396
Post 51

What does m^m mean?

anon123579
Post 50

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

anon123362
Post 49

what does </3 mean?

anon122731
Post 48

What does slow stand for?

anon121229
Post 47

What does :) mean?

anon114420
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.

anon113178
Post 45

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

anon107683
Post 44

What is rotflmfao?

anon106606
Post 43

What does TCL mean?

anon105637
Post 42

what does this abbreviation mean ({})

anon104127
Post 41

angeltouch22 - dm is - don't matter

anon102900
Post 40
anon102089
Post 37

What is smhslt?

anon100186
Post 36

What do (><) texting symbols mean?

anon92314
Post 34

what's :-P

anon88057
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.

anon84438
Post 30

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

anon84436
Post 29

aamof= as a matter of fact

anon82843
Post 27

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

anon82282
Post 25

What does

;

signify?

anon80522
Post 24

"what" means Who has a turtle.

Just kidding.

What does AAMOF mean?

scotthoins
Post 23

:X means kiss

anon74742
Post 22

What does "What" mean in text talk?

anon74366
Post 21

What is BIM?

anon72649
Post 20

smh means 'shaking my head'

anon71640
Post 19

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

anon64354
Post 17

What does this symbol mean? :X

anon62641
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!

anon57470
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.

anon56974
Post 14

What does DDX mean?

anon55822
Post 13

What is 2/2 and 2/3?

anon54564
Post 11

what does smh mean?

anon51733
Post 10

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.

anon50283
Post 9

it's long.

anon47258
Post 8

What does sss mean?

anon41165
Post 7

What is IM2?

anon38978
Post 5

What does HTML mean in texting?

anon38925
Post 4

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.

angeltouch22
Post 2

What is dm?

OmegaWolf747
Post 1

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

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