The rise of web-based technologies, online chatting, mobile texting, email and instant messaging have all helped shape the way we communicate. Short-form words, acronyms, phrases and memes have almost helped contribute to the development of a whole new language that defines Internet culture.
Today, this so-called "Internet language" is as popular as ever and virtually second nature in use amongst Internet users.
Why Do People Use Internet Slang?
Unlike writing an A+ English essay on Shakespeare, Internet slang has two common goals, which often overthrow proper spelling and grammar:
To express emotion: It's obvious that expressing emotion through written text can be difficult. Internet slang words and acronyms help you tell people that we are happy, sad, amused, angry, confused or surprised. The acronym,"LOL," which stands for "laugh out loud," is one of the most common acronyms used on the Internet. Often, users will incorporate textual emoticons like ":)" or ":(" to represent expressive human faces and emotions.
To speed up communication: You live in a busy world, and you don't have time much time to waste typing out the message you'd like to send to your friends, family or colleagues. Typing a message usually takes longer than saying it verbally, which is why Internet slang and short-form words are used to get the message in writing as quickly as possible. It's a quick and convenient way to communicate on the web.
The Internet Slang Dictionary of Choice: Urban Dictionary
There are quite a few sites out there that list popular Internet words and phrases, but there's nothing that quite compares to the Urban Dictionary. The Urban Dictionary is literally an Internet slang dictionary, which can be accessed by anyone online.
Urban Dictionary contains over 10.5 million Internet slang definitions. Anybody can suggest and submit a word and definition, which are reviewed by editors to be published on the site. Once a word is published, visitors can view and rate them.
If you come across any slang words on the web, you can almost be certain that the definition can be found by searching for it on the Urban Dictionary website.
The Most Popular Internet Slang Words and Acronyms
The following lists the most well known and widely used Internet slang words. People all over the world use them on social media sites, email and SMS text messaging. (Please note that a few of these popular acronyms include profanity, which have been replaced with more appropriate wording.)
ASAP: As Soon As Possible
BBL/BBS: Be Back Later/Soon
BFF: Best Friends Forever
BFFL: Best Friends for Life
BRB: Be Right Back
CYA: See You
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
FML: "F-Word" My Life
FTW: For the Win
FWI: For Your Information
G2G: Got to Go
GTFO: Get the "F-Word" Out
HTH: Hope This Helps
IDK: I Don't Know
IMO/IMHO: In My Opinion/In My Humble Opinion
IRL: In Real Life
JK: Just Kidding
KTHX: OK, Thanks
LMAO: Laugh My "A-Word" Off
LMFAO: Laugh My "F-ing" "A-Word" Off
LOL: Laugh Out Loud
NP: No Problem
NSFW: Not Safe for Work
OMG: Oh My God
ORLY: Oh Really?
OTOH: On the Other Hand
ROFL: Roll On the Floor Laughing
SFW: Safe for Work
STFU: Shut the "F-Word" Up
TMI: Too Much Information
TTYL: Talk to You Later
WTF: What the "F-Word"
WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get
YW: You're Welcome
Other common Internet abbreviations and symbols include “<3” which resembles a heart and stands for “love,” using “@” in place of the word “@” and using the number “2” instead of typing “to” or “too.”
“I <3 you.”
“I’m @ the store.”
“I’m going 2 school.”
Taking the Blame for Bad Grammar and Spelling
Although short-form wording and acronyms help us get the job done faster and more conveniently, time spent communicating through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and texting on cell phones is being blamed for poor spelling and grammar skills with regards to today’s youth.
While the link between modern day Internet lingo and deteriorating grammar skills has not been officially proven on a scientific basis, education institutions in Canada and the U.S. are seeing a sharp drop in proper English writing.
In an article published by the Globe and Mail, an English professor and associated dean at Simon Fraser University stated:
“Punctuation errors are huge, and apostrophe errors. Students seem to have absolutely no idea what an apostrophe is for. None. Absolutely none.”
Abbreviations, lowercase words that should be capitalized and neglectful proofreading are other common mistakes that are blamed on social media and SMS texting.