OMG, IDK - The Most Popular Internet Slang and What They Mean

Even if you use the Internet a lot, it can still be a confusing place especially for English learners. The Internet is in constant flux and never stops changing. This is also true for Internet slang, words that are used online to communicate faster and reflect current trends.

In fact, Internet slang does not only exist online. It often influences everyday English and ends up in dictionaries such as Merriam Webster.

When browsing the Internet of the English-speaking world, understanding Internet slang, especially acronyms, can be difficult not only for English learners but also for native speakers.

This guide to English Internet slang should help you navigate online communication. You will considerably improve your English online communication and reading comprehension skills, and you'll be able to follow current events, tweet, post and email more effectively.

For extra practice, search for the words online and study how they are used by others. Pay attention to tone! Acronyms are often informal, but then, on the other hand, even formality versus informality has been constantly evolving online.

Nowadays, a president might use an acronym that you thought only teenagers would use, and an ambassador might tweet using Internet slang to appeal to a younger, trendier audience.

Thus, knowing Internet slang can help you appear more relatable.

Top 20 Internet Slang Terms in 2017 For English Learners

DM: Direct Message

DM originates from Twitter’s Direct Message feature which lets you send or receive private messages. As an acronym, it is used to signal that someone should message you privately instead of in public; for example, their phone number. This now can apply to any platform with private message, including Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat.

Example: DM me tomorrow!

Bae/Babe/Before Anyone else

This Internet slang term is so common that Time magazine even dedicated a whole article to meaning of Bae. It can refer to someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend or just on general someone who you would like to be dating. Bae is also widely used to describe something as cool or generally good.

Example 1: That song is so bae.

Example 2: (You just posted a vacation picture of your boyfriend) Just hangin’ with my bae!

FML: F My Life*

This term is used to describe when you have just gone through a negative experience and you are sharing it with the world.

Example: FML. Can you believe it I am sick on New Year’s just like last year.

FTFY: Fixed That For You

This phrase can have a literal meaning, i.e. let’s say you just said something that is wrong and someone else corrects your mistake adding, “FTFY”. The other meaning is sarcastic. For example, when you have just expressed your opinion and someone else disagrees.

Example: You say, “4 Reasons Brooklyn is better than Portland.” Someone else says, “4 Reasons Portland is better than Brooklyn. #FTFY.”

Facepalm: Short for: “Ugh, idiot!”

Use this term to express that someone did or said something stupid, just like how instinctively your palm hits your forehead when you hear someone saying something stupid in real life. You can use “facepalm” to make fun of someone, show disappointment or disapproval.

Example: Someone just said something very stupid in their FB post and you react by saying: “ Facepalm, people like this only show that they don’t have a brain.”

Headdesk: Supreme Frustration With Someone Else’s Stupidity

You use it when someone just said or did something utterly stupid.

Sometimes gifs do the trick:

HIFW: How I Felt/Feel When

Usually “HIFW” is used with a gif, meme or video.

Example: #HIFW when my friend told me how Rogue One ends.

OMG: Oh My God

This acronym is used to express surprise or shock.

Example: OMG. Did you see that cute guy? (or the even shorter version: OMG. Did u c dat cute gy?)

IDK: I Don’t Know

This acronym doesn’t need much of an explanation.

Example: IDK. I might come tonight or not.

LOL: Laugh Out Loud

This acronym is used to denote great amusement but can also be used ironically.

Example: Someone just sent you something funny and you respond: “ Lol”.

ROFL: Rolling On The Floor Laughing

This is the more extreme version of “Lol”.

Example: Just saw a video online and now I’m currently ROFL.

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

This acronym is used to make sure that other people even if other people might have already heard about something, you could still repeat yourself.

Example: ICYMI. They didn’t like my new article. (posts picture of article)

IMO/IMHO: In My Opinion/In My Humble Opinion

This is a classic English Internet acronym just like “rofl”, “lol”, and “idk”. It is used to express one’s opinion.

Example: IMO, we should cancel the project.

Lulz: I Just Did It For The Kicks/Laughs

This one is related to “lol” and is used to describe when you did something just for fun.

Example: I did it for the lulz.

MFW: My Face When
MRW: My Reaction When
MIRL: Me In Real Life

This one is mostly used with a meme, gif, video, or simple image that shows someone’s face expressing emotions you would have shown if in the situation described in your caption. “MFW/MRW/MIRL” are usually used to create laughs.

Example: MFW, when there aren’t any vegan dishes on a restaurant’s menu only vegetarian ones.

NSFW: Not Safe For Work

This acronym is used as a warning before someone opens an image, clicks on a video etc. that would be inappropriate for an environment where someone might get offended.

Example: His new video is insane (NSFW).

SMH: Shaking My Head

For the meaning of this one, see “facepalm”.

Example: (You just posted an image that makes you shake your head in disbelief) SMH, I can’t believe they did this.

TBT: Throwback Thursday

Hold off until Thursday before you post old pictures of yourself.

Example: (posts a photo of herself as a one-year-old) #TBT I used to wear pretty cool pants back in the day.

YOLO: You Only Live Once

This one is quite self-explanatory. It can be used as a caption of you posting about something that you should probably not be doing like e.g. going to a pool during work hours or as ironic commentary on someone else enjoying life while doing something quite idiotic.

Example: (posts a picture of yourself at the beach holding a big sandwich in your hand) "#YOLO"

SIS: Sister

“Sis” (sister) has replaced “Bro” (buddy) on the Internet.

Example: Now, sis listen!

By learning how to use these English Internet slang words correctly, you’ll improve your online communication skills. Look them up online. Check how they are used on Twitter with a hashtag # and you'll impress everyone around you with your mastery of the English language in 2017.

Marike Korn