The ABCs of Internet Slang

If there's one thing we know about the deep corners of the World Wide Web, it's that language on the Internet often does not resemble any other language known to humankind. Words get shortened; letters get replaced and sometimes dropped altogether; numbers appear where they shouldn't… how on earth is a person supposed to understand what the heck is going on when 75 percent of all words encountered are actually acronyms? And what the heck does “dafuq” mean, anyway?

But hey, no worries — I've got your back. Through a combination of my own knowledge of the Internet and an awful lot of Googling, I've put together an alphabet of Internet slang and acronyms for you. Not sure what a “Code 9” is? Still can't figure out exactly when to use “NSFL?” Always find yourself going, “what?!” whenever you see someone say, “wat?” Answers for those questions and more lie ahead — one for each letter of the alphabet.

It's worth noting that this is by no means an exhaustive list; it does, however, contain what are probably some of the more commonly encountered yet less well-known acronyms and slang terms on the Internet. As such, consider it not a thorough reference book for some of the stranger linguistic quirks of the web, but rather a place to begin your education on the topic.

Let's do this:

A is for AFAIK

“As far as I know.” I almost went with the classic A/S/L — “age/sex/location” — for this one… but as I was typing it, it occurred to me that no one really needs to use it anymore. I mean, providing upfront answers to those three queries is pretty much what Tinder is built on, right?

B is for BRB

“Be right back.” I'm pretty sure most of you know that one by now, but did you know how many variations there are? There's “BRBBRB” (“be right back, bathroom break”), BRBL (“be right back later,” which sounds kind of contradictory to me), and many, many more.

C is for Code 9

Alternately “parents are watching” or “other people nearby.” Some things weren't meant to be seen by anyone else.

D is for Dafuq?

Alternative spelling of “the fuck?”, that is, “What the fuck?”. “WTF?” may also be substituted.

E is for Effing

Phonetic spelling of “f-ing,” an abbreviation which I'm sure you all know. Sometimes I think that minced oaths are kind of pointless; after all, if you imbue a regular word with the meaning of a swear, doesn't that just make it a whole new swear, thus defeating the purpose? One for the ages, I suppose.

F is for FTFY

"Fixed that for you.”

G is for Guru

Confession: I kind of hate the Internet meaning of “guru.” I most frequently hear it paired with the word “beauty,” because “YouTube beauty gurus” are apparently a huge thing — but I can't help but think that people who call themselves “gurus” on the Internet aren't actually experts in anything. They just think they are. Maybe that's just me, though.

H is for Headdesk

An expression of frustration. You know when you get so frustrated that all you can think to do is to bang your head against your desk repeatedly? That's headdesking.

I is for ITT

“In this thread.” It's often deployed in AskReddit threads where the answers are all ostensibly the same or have some kind of common theme — e.g, for a thread asking parents about the weirdest things their kids have done, “ITT: No actual parents.”

Honorable mention for the “I” slot goes to IDK (“I don't know”), which is perhaps most well known thanks to this cell phone commercial.

J is for JSYK

“Just so you know.” Variations include “JSYN,” “JSUK,” and “JSUN”; however, I would not actually recommend using any of these variations, as they rely on incorrect spelling of the words they're intended to replace. Willfully bad spelling is a huge turn-off.

K is for K

“Okay.” You already know that one, don't you? I hope so.

L is for Lulz

This one requires a little explanation: “Lulz” is a variation on “Lols”; given that “LOL” means “laughing out loud,” the plural may be taken as meaning “laughs.” “Lulz” is usually seen as part of the phrase “for the lulz,” which pretty much means “just for kicks.” It's often used as an explanation for mischievous hacking activity, particularly that carried out by the blackhat hacker group LulzSec.

M is for Meatspace

That is, the real world. IRL — “in real life” — is its acronym equivalent.

N is for NSFL

“Not suitable for life.” You've heard of NSFW — that is, “not suitable for work” — right? Usually that label is reserved for content of a sexual nature. NSFL covers everything else, including (frequently, in fact) instances of extreme, real life gore. Anything tagged NSFL is the kind of thing that, once seen, can't be unseen. Ever.

Rather a lot of Internet slang terms and acronyms begin with the letter N; for the curious, other candidates for the “N” slot in this particular alphabet included NM (“never mind”); NBD (“no big deal”), and n00b (“newbie”).

O is for OP

“Original poster.” Usually used in reference to the person who began a particular comment thread, whether it's on Reddit, 4chan, or elsewhere.

P is for PEBCAK

“Problem exists between chair and keyboard.” OK, yes, maybe I should have gone with “pwn” for this one — but PEBCAK is one of my favorite acronyms, so I couldn't very well pass it up, now, could I? It's frequently used by IT folk to indicate that a problem is due to user error — the whole “WHY WON'T MY MONITOR WORK????” “...Because you forgot to turn it on” genre of problems. At which point one headdesks.

Q is for QFT

“Quoted for truth.” As we discovered last week, “quoted for truth” is essentially a newer form of “true that” — an expression of affirmation used when someone says something with which you agree.

R is for Rawr

An alternative spelling of “roar.” Usually used when mimicking a dinosaur, although some also maintain that “rawr” is dinosaur-speak for “I love you.”

S is for SMH

“Shaking my head,” “stupid minded humans,” or “so much hate.” Typically it's the first definition, though. We've covered this one before; check it out if you're curious.

T is for TL;DR

“Too long; didn't read” or “too long; did not read.” Although originally it appears to have been a stock response to monstrously long Reddit comments, these days it's trotted out more frequently to indicate the beginning of a one-to-two-sentence summary of a monstrously long Reddit comment. The funnier and pithier the summary, the better.

U is for UAAAA

“Universal Association Against Acronym Abuse.” No, it is not a real organization. Yes, it is a super meta and kind of hilarious joke.

V is for Vlog

“Video log.” If a web log is a blog, a video log is a vlog. I also happen to think it's an incredibly awkward term, but that's just me.

W is for Wat

A bastardization of “what.” Typically the use of “wat” indicates confusion, although rather than being followed by a question mark, it's punctuated with a period: “Wat.”

X is for Xfer

“Transfer,” as in to transfer a file from one user to another. “X” is also often used as a shortened version of the prefix “ex,” so words like “except” might become “xcept.”

Y is for YMMV

“Your mileage may vary.” Originally from the US Environmental Protection Agency's requirements for vehicle gas estimates, in this context, it can either mean “it may work differently in your situation” or “that's my own opinion; yours may differ.”

Z is for Zomg

“Oh my god”; alternatively z'omg or z0mg. I'm theorizing here, but I suspect it began as a typo; given the Z key's proximity to the Shift key, it's possible that attempts to type “OMG” ended up as “ZOMG” by accident frequently enough for it to become a word in its own right.

Images: cafemama/Flickr; Giphy (6)