Navigating the world of social media slang is hard enough for native English speakers, so don’t panic if you feel lost as a non-native speaker! The internet is proof of how quickly language use evolves, especially for efficiency, humour and emotion when we are not face-to-face. To help you decode this dialect of online speech, we’ve put together a list of the most commonly used abbreviations and expressions that you’re sure to come across while scrolling through posts (content shared on social media) in English on your social media feeds (updated list of content posted by you or other users that you follow).
IRL – In real life (not online – in actual physical life!)
BRB – Be right back (to indicate you’re coming back online soon, you just need to do something IRL)
BTS – Behind the scenes (to show what happens when content is being made e.g. behind the scenes of a photo/video shoot, creating a product, etc.)
BTW – By the way (use before saying something unrelated to the previous topic of conversation)
IDK– I don’t know (use when you’re not sure about something)
IKR – I know, right?! (to express agreed shock or surprise or satisfaction)
IMHO/IMO – In my humble opinion/in my opinion (use before sharing your point of view)
ICYMI – In case you missed it (use when repeating an update that others may not have seen/heard about yet)
FBO – Facebook official (when a relationship status or new job status is posted on Facebook)
FOMO – Fear of missing out (being anxious about missing a fun event/gathering because you have other plans or cannot join)
FYI – For your information (use when informing someone about something vital that they probably did not know)
OP – Original poster (the person who initially made the post)
F – Following (often seen as a comment on a group post that a person wants to be notified about as they are interested in other comments that may answer the OP’s question)
LMAO – Laughing my ass off (similar to a laughing emoji or ‘hahaha’; more laughter than just ‘LOL – laugh out loud’)
ROFL – Rolling on the floor laughing (the same as LMAO, perhaps even more laughter)
LMK – Let me know (use when you want someone to follow up on something)
GOAT – Greatest of all time (call someone the GOAT when they are the best at something)
OG – Original gangster/Original (use when referring to the originator of something or the original version of something)
NSFW – Not safe/suitable for work (to indicate that content is not appropriate to watch at the workplace)
HMU – Hit me up (use when you want to tell someone to get in touch with you)
NVM – Nevermind (use when you want someone to ignore what you just said)
JK – Just kidding (to indicate that something was a joke)
SMH – Shaking my head (to indicate disappointment in something or someone)
TBH – To be honest (showing your honest feelings or opinions)
TL;DR – Too long; didn’t read (use to give a short summary of something alongside the detailed post)
TMI – Too much information (when you share something that was perhaps a bit too personal or explicit)
TW – Trigger warning (use if the content contains sensitive or triggering subjects)
CW – Content warning (use if the content contains sensitive or explicit subjects)
TBA or TBC – To be announced or confirmed (use when a date or location of an event is still undecided)
Social Media Slang Expressions
“You’re crushing it / killing it / owning it / slaying it”
Meaning: You’re doing really well, you’re doing a great job.
Use when: You want to encourage or praise someone for succeeding and thriving and sound cool in the process.
E.g. “I heard you got a promotion and won the race on Sunday – you’re crushing it!”
E.g. “Damn, you’re slaying in that outfit, babe!”
“I’m dead”, “Dead”
Meaning: It’s so funny I could die from laughter.
Use when: You want to emphasise how funny something is, but also sound cool and understated.
E.g. Person 1: *sends meme*
Person 2: “Dead!” *laugh emoji*
Meaning: Someone has insulted another person or spoken so directly that it feels offensive/rude.
Use when: You want to bring humour to a back and forth when someone has said a witty comeback or friendly insult.
E.g. Father: You need a haircut. You’re starting to look like your grandmother.
Son: Damn, dad. Shots fired.
Meaning: To insult, trash talk or disrespect someone indirectly to their face or behind their back.
Use when: You want to point out that someone is being rude about another person.
E.g. “No wonder Ashley doesn’t have friends, she’s always throwing shade at people.”
Meaning: When someone is annoyed, bitter or upset about something.
Use when: You want to highlight that someone is being bitter but in a humorous way.
E.g. “Why are you being so salty? I didn’t throw shade at you.”
“Spill the tea”
Meaning: To spread gossip or share news that is a secret or discreet.
Use when: You want someone to tell you their news or gossip that they know.
E.g. “Spill the tea! Did your sister really get married in Vegas last week?”
Meaning: Secretly or discreetly.
Use when: You want to express a feeling or an action that is done or felt in an undercover/slightly hidden way.
E.g. “I told her I didn’t care that I wasn’t invited to the party but I’m lowkey upset.”
Remember that internet slang conveys a casual and often youthful tone, so make sure that you only use these expressions in laid back contexts. In general, they are NSFW! Many abbreviations may be useful though, as it will save you time when communicating over instant message or even in the chat of your video meetings. Mastering the use of social media slang in another language is a great indication of your overall proficiency, so get comfortable with this vocabulary and have fun on your journey to fluency!