Online Slang

Acronyms, Abbreviations, and Slang Terms used Online


1. What is online slang?

Online slang includes acronyms, abbreviations, and slang terms that represent common words or phrases. For example, BTW means "by the way" and G2G means "gotta go."

By using "chat acronyms," you can type messages more quickly. Since computer keyboards and cell phone keypads are so often used to communicate today, acronyms can save a significant amount of typing, as well as time.

2. Where should I use online slang?

It's OK to use online slang (including acronyms and abbreviations) in any of the following communication mediums:

  • Online chat rooms (where the name "chat acronyms" comes from)
  • Online forums / bulletin boards
  • Social networking websites
  • Instant messaging
  • Email messages
  • Text messaging
  • Handwritten notes

3. When should I use online slang?

Online slang and chat acronyms are appropriate for informal communication. Examples include chatting online with a friend, text messaging a sibling, or emailing a friend or family member. It is not recommended to use chat acronyms with formal communication, such as office e-mails or formal letters. This is because 1) the recipient(s) may not understand what the acronyms mean, and 2) it makes your message sound less professional, possibly reducing your credibility.

4. How am I supposed to remember all these acronyms?

Don't worry, you're not supposed to. It is impossible to learn all the acronyms used online, let alone memorize them. Fortunately, each acronym in the PC.net acronyms database has a popularity rating from 1 to 3.

An acronym with a rating of 3 is a commonly used chat acronym. You may benefit from memorizing some of these ones, since they are used by a lot of people.

An acronym with a rating of 2 is used occasionally, but the average person will most likely not know what it means. It may often be possible to guess the meaning of these acronyms, but don't expect other people to automatically know what you mean if you use them. While it can be helpful to know some of these acronyms, memorizing them may not be worth the effort.

An acronym with a rating of 1 is an uncommon acronym, which is rarely used. These acronyms may be used within certain groups or between friends, but they are highly unlikely to be understood by the average person. Therefore, it is best not to use these acronyms unless you are sure the message recipient knows what they mean.

5. Does using chat acronyms reduce the quality of one's grammar?

That's debatable. When chatting with friends, using good grammar is typically not important. Therefore, acronyms provide a way of typing messages more quickly and therefore communicating more efficiently.

However, the use of acronyms can water down e-mail and online chat communication, which is often already grammatically deficient. When sending text messages or typing messages online, many people choose not to capitalize letters or use appropriate punctuation. Whether it is personal style or sheer laziness, the fact is this lack of effort can take away from the meaning of the message. Worse yet, it can develop poor communication habits that translate into other communication, both online and offline.

It is important to use chat acronyms in the right context (see question 3), and to use acronyms that other people understand. The acronyms listed on PC.net are provided as a reference, not as suggestions. It is not a bad idea to use chat acronyms, but it is a good idea to use them discerningly.

6. Shouldn't "chat acronyms" be called "chat initialisms?"

Technically, yes. This is because an acronym is technically a word formed out of the initials of other words. For example, "laser" is an acronym for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation." Most of the acronyms in the PC.net database are not actual words, like "laser." An initialism, on the other hand, is simply an abbreviation composed of initial letters.

However, the fact is most people understand acronyms to be the same as initialisms. Additionally, "acronym" is just easier to say. Therefore, acronyms have come to mean the same thing as initialisms. The phrase "chat acronyms" has also grown to include abbreviations as well. It's all part of the evolution of language.

7. Can I submit an online slang term to PC.net?

Sure! You can submit your suggestion using the online contact form.

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