Understanding Online Lingo

Home & Family, Technology
on January 6, 2008

A special language exists for people who frequent Internet chat rooms, leave messages on online discussion boards, and use instant messengers, e-mail and cell phone text messaging. Electronic communication often involves hundreds of abbreviations, acronyms, slang terms and symbols, and, for parents or others who don’t speak the language, “online lingo” can be confusing and difficult to decode.

For example, would you know that IIRC means “If I recall correctly” or that P911 means “Parent alert”?

Sean Sapp, 22, a communications major at Maysville (Ky.) Community College who has been communicating online since he was 15, says online lingo is used mainly as a matter of convenience. “It’s faster to type ‘CU’ than to type ‘See you,’” he says. “But sometimes kids use it because they know their parents are looking over their shoulders and they don’t want them to know what they’re saying.”

Whether you are a concerned parent or a curious senior citizen, you may want to add some online lingo to your vocabulary. Here are definitions for a few popular terms:

LOL: Laughing Out Loud
IMHO: In My Humble Opinion
BRB: Be Right Back
POS: Parents Over Shoulder
Noob or NUB: Newbie, or newcomer
Cam: Camera (web camera)
MoF: Male or Female
BF: Best Friend
TTYL: Talk to You Later
P4P: Pic for Pic (a request to exchange photographs with someone)
Addy: e-mail address
CUL8R: See You Later
2nite: Tonight
GR8: Great
143: I love you
THX: Thanks

In addition to online lingo, symbols called “emoticons” or “smileys” are used to communicate; they represent facial expressions and convey emotions, moods and words, and often are viewed best while tilting your head to the left. Here are a few examples:

🙂 or 🙂 Smiling or Happy
🙁 or 🙁 Frowning
😉 Winking
😀 Laughing

Several websites, including www.netlingo.com and www.smileycentral.com, provide definitions for online lingo terms and symbols.