Text speak has changed a lot in the last decade (10 years) or two. I remember using it a lot when I was younger as a short cut when typing when I had my first MSN Messenger account. You could type something quickly if you only had a second to do so, and the person you were talking to understood your shortcut.

For example, if while you were chatting online to a friend and the phone rang downstairs (remember when phones were connected to a wall in the kitchen only??) and you needed to run down to answer the phone, you could write brb (see below!) and the person you were talking to knew that you were going to get up from the computer for a few minutes.

The opportunities to use texting and SMS language have certainly widened from the days of AOL chat rooms, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), and MSN Messenger, with seemingly new lingo and shortcuts popping up every day.

However, it should be noted that text speak is not as common as it used to be because it is easier nowadays to type on our smaller devices. We also are better typists than we were 20 years ago. And perhaps above all, despite its faults, we have autocorrect and predictive text now, too.

Here is some common text speak and Internet abbreviations and acronyms you may see around:


Definition: Talk To You Later

In a real hurry and have to go somewhere? Send TTYL along to let someone know that you’ll get back in touch with them when you have more time to talk.


Definition: Shaking My Head

This one pops up a lot on Facebook, especially when someone says something you strongly disagree with, or when you see a particularly (specifically, quite, very) stupid Internet video. It shows that you feel the comment was ridiculous (unreasonable, crazy, not thought over) and you can’t believe someone would say such a thing publicly.


Definition: That Feel When

You know when your toast lands butter-side-down on a morning that already seems to be going badly? Or when you think you are all finished with your work for the weekend and then you see one last email? If so, then you can relate to “that feel when…” TFW is a relatively new acronym and while it’s not grammatically correct (it should be “that feeling when”), I personally relate to a lot of the memes that it shows up on!

For example:

That feel when you think you have a friend but when you try to call them, they never answer the phone…


Definition: Be Right Back

Do you have to run out of the house for a minute? Or just get up from your desk to get a snack? If you send BRB to someone, they’ll know that you won’t be gone very long.


Definition: As Far As I Know

AFAIK can come in handy if you’re making a statement online, but aren’t quite sure of all the details. Add AFAIK at the beginning or end of the statement and whomever’s reading will know to take what you say with a grain of salt (with a little caution, not 100% as fact).

BC, B/C, or bec

Definition: Because

This is one that I use, especially if I’m in a hurry. If you’re trying to text detailed information to someone in as little time as possible, text speak can really come in handy (convenient, an easy shortcut)!


Definition: In My Humble Opinion

You can use IMHO in a very similar way to AFAIK when you’re discussing your opinion or if you are trying to be a bit more delicate when you say what you think. That way, the reader will know that what is being discussed is your opinion on a situation and not a hard fact.


Definition: Too Long; Didn’t Read

Have you ever sent a long description of something and been asked for the TL;DR version of it? What they’re asking for is about a one-sentence summary of what happened. This text speak abbreviation is very common on sites like reddit.com and since I, apparently, am rather talkative, I’m quite frequently asked for the TL;DR versions of what happened- even when I’m talking to someone in person!

Do you use any text speak when you write or text? What are some other text speak abbreviations or acronyms you know? Share with us in the comments below!

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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher,  yoga instructor, and isn’t sure if she should be offended that people as her for the TL;DR version of her stories!! Haha!!  

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