Shortcuts for SMS messaging

Ever wonder how often text message acronyms creep into our face-to-face conversation without us realising?

The English language is a fluid entity that changes and morphs over time. Even the most prescriptive snoot will concede that the rules of grammar are (to a certain degree) flexible, the subject of the generation in which they are applied. Text message acronyms, or textspeak, takes the rules of grammar and syntax to a whole different level.

Chances are you’ll be able to read the following sentence without even the slightest of difficulty:

"NP, I'm OMW. HMU with a DM if you need anything! TTYL"

If you can’t figure it out, don’t worry; there’s nothing to be ashamed of. The above sentence may not make the least bit of sense as it’s a by-product of the early 140-character Twitter age (or 160-character SMS). This technologically manic, hyper-connected world we live in has developed a convenient texting language. And as far as we’re all concerned, it’s here to stay.


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The origin of Textspeak: Emblemic Poetry

Although, as mentioned above, textspeak very much is a by-product of this world we live in, there’s evidence of textspeak creeping into linguistic circles long ago, in a time when the word Twitter would have been used only as a reference to a bird tweeting.

Turns out that abbreviating (or butchering) words so that they’re half the size yet still recognisable was happening back in Nietzsche’s day, in the 19th century. Of course, it went by another name back then: emblematic poetry. And, apparently, at the time, it was emblematic of cleverness.

In a poem that was published in 1867, Charles C Bombaugh wrote: “I wrote 2 U B4.” Another verse reads: ‘He says he loves U 2 X S,/ U R virtuous and Y’s,’/ In XL NCUXL / All others in his I’s.”

Since emblematic poetry, textspeak has continued to evolve, reshaping and redefining the manner in which we communicate with each other through the written word.

Unless you’re an English professor or an inconsolable pedant, this textspeak trend is relatively innocuous. Communication is intended to do just that—communicate. In informal situations, if you can be understood properly using shortened words and fewer of them, compromising on grammar and syntax in a way that doesn’t compromise the message you want to get across isn’t a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a matter of necessary concision. In more formal situations, however, caution should be exercised.

Top 50 Text Message Acronyms

To ensure you are up to date with the latest and most popular Textspeak and SMS message acronyms, we've compiled a list of the top 50 text message acronyms for your convenience.

Top 50 Text Message Acronyms

1. AKA: Also Known As

2. AMA: Ask Me Anything

3. ASAP: As Soon As Possible

4. ATM: At The Moment

5. BBL: Be Back Later

6. BRB: Be Right Back

7. BTW: By The Way

8. COB: Close Of Business

9. DIY: Do It Yourself

10. DM: Direct Message

11. EOD: End Of Day

12. FAQ: Frequently Asked Question

13. FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out

14. FTW: For The Win

15. FWIW: For What It’s Worth

16. FYI: For Your Information

17. HBU?: How About You?

18. HMU: Hit Me Up

19. ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

20. IDK: I Don’t Know

21. IKR: I Know, Right

22. ILY: I Love You

23. IMO: In My Opinion

24. IRL: In Real Life

25. IYKYK: If You Know You Know

26. JK: Just Kidding

27. LMK: Let Me Know

28. LOL: Laugh Out Loud

29. MCM: Man Crush Monday

30. N/A: Not Applicable or Not Available

31. NP: No Problem

32. NVM: Nevermind

33. OMW: On My Way

34. OOO: Out Of Office

35. OOTD: Outfit Of The Day

36. POV: Point Of View

37. RN: Right Now

38. ROFL: Rolling On the Floor Laughing

39. SMH: Shaking My Head

40. TBA: To Be Announced

41. TBD: To Be Decided / Determined

42. TBH: To Be Honest

43. TBT: Throw Back Thursday

44. TFW: That Feeling When...

45. TGIF: Thank Goodness It’s Friday

46. TIA: Thanks In Advance

47. TL;DR: Too Long; Didn’t Read

48. TMI: Too Much Information

49. TTYL: Talk To You Later

50. WCW: Woman Crush Wednesday

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Don't Forget To Stay Professional

Organisations and the people representing them need to be wary of becoming too colloquial (i.e., unprofessional) when their messages are being filtered through platforms notorious for textspeak SMS, Twitter, most social media, etc. There’s a fine line between condensing words effectively and butchering your message with sloppy abbreviations. Using common textspeak words like ‘txt’, or ‘msg’ is fine, especially when space is limited.

Just because it’s trendy to use textspeak with friends through SMS, doesn’t mean the same rules apply in business communications. Yes, some textspeak words have made it into the dictionary, but that doesn’t mean they should be used by businesses. You are most likely not an emblematic poet from the 19th century, and that business is still, for the most part, a place where formal manners are necessary.

You wouldn’t chew with your mouth wide-open at an important formal event and then put your feet up to relax (you might do that when you get home, in the company of your loved ones). Similarly, textspeak has its place. Use it wisely.

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