What do we know about the various abbreviations and acronyms used?

Social media platforms have changed the way we communicate in one big way: we now cannot write without abbreviations and emojis. We have embraced them passionately because they are brief, and convey emotions crisply and efficiently. Our abundant use of abbreviations has made people refer to social media messaging as an ‘alphabet soup’. What do we know about the various abbreviations and acronyms used?

What they are

An abbreviation is an umbrella term. Abbreviations are shortened forms of words and phrases. Mrs., Dr., Rlys. are all examples of abbreviations. [Just drop the vowels!)

Acronyms are types of abbreviations. They are made by taking the first letters of the words involved and making a word out of them. These ‘initialisms’ may be pronounced as proper words, but are written in the upper case. Examples are: WHO, UNESCO, RADAR.

Is noob (internet-speak for “newbie”) an abbreviation or an acronym? You decide!


Tl;dr stands for “too long: didn’t read.”

According to one report, tl;dr was originally an insult an expression of annoyance. It was used as a reaction to a post, comment or content that the reader found long winded and wordy. It meant, “This is way too long, so I didn’t read it.” By 2005, tl;dr had taken on a second meaning: it was short for “summary.” People began to send a “tl;dr version” of longer accounts or articles. Tl;dr can be a genuine summary of a much longer piece.

You could call it a gist the big takeaway or the moral of the story. Tl;dr can also be a simpler, sarcastic interpretation of an essay on a complex topic It is the essence of the piece. Try writing the Tl;dr version of something you want to say. You will get more people to read what you write.


There was a time when men never went out without wearing a hat. When they met people they knew in the streets, hat-wearing men tipped the brim of the hat a little bit, as a mark of recognition (Hello!) or respect (Morning, Sir!). You can’t wear a hat on social media, but you still want to show respect. So you use the acronym H/T (with or without the diagonal slash). It means hat tip, or tipping the hat.

When we attach H/T to a meme, expression, image, or idea on social media, we acknowledge the original source of that post. When you forward a quote, you say, “H/T to XXX.” You can also thank people – “H/T YYY for the gift.”


LBS can be wielded to convey an emotion via text and social media. LBS stands for “laughing but serious.” Placed at the end of a text, it tells readers that you are not hurt by what has been said, you don’t take yourself seriously, but will consider the substance of the post/text. A lot is said with these few letters of the alphabet!


This is a familiar one, right? You’ve seen IMHO (in my humble opinion) in texting, email and social media. It was first used in the 1980s in online forums. After a while some people began to interpret IMHO as “In my honest opinion.” Now more people understand the “H” as “honest.” Fine! You are probably saying that you believe in what you say.


I suspect MUA (make-up artist) gained traction with the increasing number of make-up videos that are appearing on YouTube. And they are watched by millions! The minute you see the letters MUA, the artist believes, you will want to click on it. And his/her video gets an eyeball. MUAs get huge responses on Instagram and YouTube. Videos by MUAs tell you of the artist’s techniques about how to make you look better.


I always thought SWAG was a regular English word, but it turns out it is an acronym. It stands for “stuff we all get.” and it usually refers to freebies given for promoting a product. If someone trying to sell you the latest mobile phone adds SWAG at the bottom, you’ll definitely want to click on it right? SWAG is a direct outcome of our buying tendencies – no freebie, no buy! There is your next acronym – NFNB, how about it?


WYD is a texting and internet acronym for “What (are) you doing?” Friends say it can also mean “What (would) you do?” Like a lot of acronyms, it started as a literal question – “What are you doing at the moment?” Then texters found out that it can be a substitute for “What’s up, buddy?” an informal greeting. Now, it has taken shades of meaning, like. “Hey, what are you doing? Are you sure that’s right? I don’t think I approve! Stop it!” I saw one that went “If you don’t support your best friend when she’s sad, then wyd?” [it is a rhetorical question, meaning, “You are not doing much.”) WTP too asks a question: “What’s the plan?” or “What’s the play?” when you want to confirm a programme for the day/evening/ weekend. Type out WTP and you get your response. Great!


The abbreviation HMU stands for a slightly complicated “hit me up.” Again, it gives us an idea of what young people feel at the moment. HMU is posted to announce that the texter is looking for something to do. He/she is bored, lonely and is looking for social interaction. It is a call for people to reach out to him/ her. It is generally a one-on one exchange, where it becomes an invitation for continued interaction. It means “text me,” or “call me,” or simply “let’s talk again.” HMU can also stand for “hook me up,” which is typically a request to be connected with someone or something in which you have an interest.


Picture Credit : Google