Guide to Social Media Acronyms


Is social media ushering in a new English lexicon?

Just like the acronyms that grew out of military field communication (or lack thereof; see: SNAFU*), online abbreviations are all about making messages shorter, faster and (maybe) funnier. How do you say what you mean when you’re typing with your thumbs, scrolling through the more than 350,000 tweets posted each minute, or trying to quickly end a conversation with that persistent troll?


So, FWIW, Lemonade Social Media presents: A guide to the most common online acronyms.

The most ubiquitous acronym, one used so often in social media that it may have already jumped the shark**, is LOL. LOL stands for Laugh Out Loud. This is a quick way to acknowledge an attempt at a joke, reply to a comment, or forgive a mistake. As in: “LOL, I got so distracted by my cats I forgot to sign up by the deadline!” “LOL. No problem. Here’s the link…”

This is closely followed in age and declining use by its cousin: ROTL and ROTFLMAO: Rolling On The Floor, Laughing My A** Off. (If you like to keep it clean, you can always use LMSO: Laughing My Socks Off.)

For the record, The Urban Dictionary says, “People who use this type of shorthand [LOL, ROTL, ROTFLMAO, LMSO] should be avoided like the Spanish flu.” We tend to agree. The shark has been jumped here.

If you like to share your opinion in comment threads or chat rooms, acronyms come in handy. IMHO means In My Humble Opinion. As with “No offense…” this phrase should be used sparingly. Best used before a personal take on a posted subject, but please don’t use as a passive-aggressive way to launch an attack. Let’s all do our part to keep the web fun and friendly!

Less interested in attacks and more interested in sharing information? FWIW, For What It’s Worth, is your acronym. Just add FWIW to your list of “12 Reasons Why Ariana Grande is the New Madonna.”

WTF: What The F**k. No explanation needed, but if you start sprinkling this acronym around, you’ll soon be met with STFU (Shut The F**k Up).

A more down-home way to express your disbelief and displeasure at what you just read would be SMH, or Shaking My Head.

If you feel there’s room for one more in the old-Southern-manners vernacular, allow us to introduce the gentlemanly acronym TMHO, or Take My Hat Off. Use at will as a compliment, and remember, you saw it here first, folks.

Posting a picture of yourself skydiving, skinny-dipping or shot-drinking every time the Cubs lose? You may want add YOLO: You Only Live Once.

To shrug off someone in a more polite way, try using these acronyms to cast shade:

  • SOHF: Sense Of Humor Failure
  • NSF: Not So Funny or SNF: So Not Funny
  • JK: Just Kidding
  • NC: No Comment

And don’t forget to sign off with these dismissals:

  • TCOY: Take Care of Yourself
  • TYFYT: Thank You For Your Time

We use acronyms in the business of social media, too. Journalism may have changed, but rules of the game live on. H/T stands for Hat Tip. You can use H/T, followed by the person’s tagged name, in your post to recognize the person who first shared the news you’re retweeting or sharing.

The etiquette for ETA: Edited To Add is: If you post a piece, then a significant edit on your post or article, place ETA before your addition so the comments before it will still make sense.

NSFW, or Not Safe For Work, is a way of putting a advisory in front of a piece you’re sharing that someone might see from their cubicle. That video has lots of cussing? NSFW.

If we’re referencing something we (or the world) has already posted about many times, we use ICYMI: In Case You Missed It, so those who’ve been living under a rock can catch up with what’s trending.

And of course the Lemonade team posts this one frequently: ILMJ: I Love My Job. Or was that TMI (Too Much Information)?

Know some social media acronyms we missed? Let us know in the comments!

*SNAFU: Situation Normal, All F*cked Up.

** “Jumped the shark” refers to when something (originally a TV show) has passed its peak and is declining in quality and viewer interest. The origin is from the Fonz (Henry Winkler) jumping a shark on waterskis in episode 5.3 of Happy Days.

Virginia Woodruff
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