Internet Initialisms

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Although I’ve adopted a few initialisms such as BTW, LOL, and IMHO in my own informal writing, I’m mostly ignorant of the alphabet soup current on Twitter and other social media sites.

When a reader recently introduced me to the combination DRTL, I realized that this new language represents not just a kind of shorthand, but also a new philosophy of written language. This particular construct, DRTL, seems to me to symbolize the new philosophy:

DRTL = Didn’t Read, Too Long.

Note: A more common version of DRTL is TLDR or tl;dr, meaning “too long; didn’t read.

Strings of commonly understood letter combinations such as FYI (For your information), TGIF (Thank God it’s Friday), and ASAP (As soon as possible) pre-date the Internet, of course, but they never occurred in the profusion that exists now. Readers who share my lack of currency in Abbreviation-Speak may find the following list useful.

AFAIK: As far as I know
AIUI: As I understand it
BTDT: Been there, Done that
BTW: By the way
F2F: Face to face
FOAF: Friend of a friend
FWIW: For What it’s worth
GAL: Get a life
GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out
HTH: Hope that helps
IANAL: I am not a lawyer
ICYMI: In case you missed it
IIRC: If I recall correctly
IMHO: In my humble opinion
IMO: In my opinion
IRL: In real life
ISTM: It seems to me
JK (also J/K) Just kidding
LOL: Laughing out loud
OMG: Oh, My God
OTOH: On the other hand
OTT: Over the top
STW: Search the Web
TIL: Today I learned
TMI Too much information
TTYL: Talk to you later
WYSIWYG: What you see is what you get

Of course this list is a mere scratching of the surface. And I’ve deliberately left out the ones that contain a gratuitous F. Nevertheless, even a short list may help a few codgers navigate Twitter with a little more comprehension. HTH.

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13 thoughts on “Internet Initialisms”

  1. There’s also
    FIJAH/FIOAH (Fandom is Just/Only a Hobby)
    IM(NS)HO (In My ‘Not So’ Humble Opinion)
    and my two favorites:
    Rolling On The Floor Laughing (And Scaring The Cats)

    Like Sean, I learned it as TL;DR–which was explained to me as the Cliff Notes version of complaining that Cliff Notes were too long. 🙂

  2. Love it! Most of these I knew, and many I use routinely (OTOH, FWIW, IMO, TMI, TYVM (which you didn’t mention) and some others, but DRTL (or TLDR) was new to me, as were a few others. My daughter, who is 22, uses IDK (I don’t know), and SMH (smack my head) as in “duh!” She also likes to complain with “FML” (which is one you didn’t cover, for stated reason), but what makes me laugh about that is a tidbit I found online that says, “As of late 2010, an attempt [was] being made by some Christians to rechristen the term “Forgive Me Lord.” You can’t please everyone.
    GIGO was around when I was in college (so we are talking…aieeeee…almost 40 years ago), when I took an accounting class and we had FIFO and LIFO, which naturally led to GIGO…your bottom line is only as reliable as the data entered.
    AFA which of these initialisms I might soon add to my repertoire, I think IANAL is a really good one, and maybe could be altered to include IANAD (for non-doctors), IANARS (for non-rocket-scientists), etc.
    And in closing, don’t forget ILY and ILY2 🙂

  3. Sean,
    The reader who alerted me to the “too long to read” expression used DRTL and when I looked for usage, I found that initialism. Thanks to your comment, I see that TLDR is more common, especially in lower case with a semicolon: tl;dr.

  4. Anne Victory: Sean, I’m glad you said that. I’ve always seen the “teal deer” too–TLDR

    I never even read past TL…four letters is awful long for an acronym…

  5. Sean, I’m glad you said that. I’ve always seen the “teal deer” too–TLDR or TL;DR. DRTL seriously threw me for a loop.

  6. Thank you for the list; I have never come across DRTL but it seems reasonable, if non-standard. One I have used on occasion, often to no avail whatever, is NRN, or No Response Necessary. Otherwise, I have found emails, even more than snail mail, frequently comes down to a string of ‘Thank yous’.

  7. @venqax: if you think that’s long, what’s with that semicolon in there? I’m a semicolon fan but I say no way.
    @opsimath: I have used NNTR (no need to reply) but yours is shorter so I’ll go with that in the future.

  8. 2 from the gaming community:
    BRB – be right back
    AFK – away from keyboard

    2 from the texting crowd
    OMW – on my way
    BRT – be right there

    And 1 more, which has made its way into common language
    BFF – best friend forever

  9. Regarding STW (“Search The Web”), you may also be interested in the more snarky “LMGTFY”…which translates to “Let Me Google That For You.”

    In usage, one also typically posts a link to LMGTFY.org, where the appropriate search term was already entered. When the recipient clicks on the link, the LMGTFY site plays a sarcastic animation of moving the mouse cursor to the search box on Google.com and entering the search terms and clicking the search button. Afterward, the site redirects you to the actual Google search results. It’s a way to imply that the person asked the question unnecessarily, and should have done some research on their own before asking.

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