Natasha, Readable’s Customer Success Champion, discusses the difference between an acronym and an initialism. Along with some intriguing examples you may never have heard of.
The birth of the internet
Although my father thought computers were a fad, one found its way to our house in 1996. I was fortunate enough to discover the Information Superhighway in its infancy. Information was at our fingertips, but social media wasn’t really a thing just yet.
Soon I was throwing around the BRBs and OMGs as I chatted with my BFFs. I had officially discovered the world of social media acronyms.
Acronyms vs. Initialisms
Now, before I go any further, I do want to address the English language aficionados. Some will point out that so-called social media acronyms are actually initialisms.
Technically, an acronym is a pronounceable word formed by the initials of the original words. For example, SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) would be considered traditional acronyms.
An initialism is when the abbreviation is pronounced using the names of the letters instead. For example, WWW (double-you, double-you, double-you) or FBI (ef, bee, eye).
There are newer definitions of acronym that include any abbreviation formed from letters. Pronunciation is not a factor. In this post, I’ll be referring to all of these words as acronyms for the sake of simplicity.
For those interested in the debate, there’s a great article by the New York Times on the subject.
Social media acronyms form a life of their own
It was around the time Drake started throwing around YOLO (you only live once) that I realised I had fallen behind in the Internet lexicon. Joining Reddit was further confirmation that I had no idea what anyone was talking about.
To remedy the problem, I reached out to my best friend who is now a high school principal. Decoding texts and social media messages between students is a big part of her job. From our conversation, I discovered a few new acronyms I needed to know and many others that I will never use.
For your entertainment, here’s my new list:
AFAIK - As far as I know
2M2H - Too much to handle
AFPOE - A fresh pair of eyes
AMA - Ask me anything (usually used on Reddit when experts answer random questions)
NSFW - Not safe for work (graphic content you’d get in trouble for opening at work)
NSFS - Not safe for school (same as above but for school)
OATUS - On another totally unrelated subject
GOMB - Get off my back
AYSOS - Are you stupid or something?
TIL - Today I learned
BAE - Before anyone else (a term of endearment)
TTTT - These things take time
PAW - Parents are watching
FTFY - Fixed that for you
DFTBA - Don’t forget to be awesome
ELI5 - Explain like I’m 5 (years old) (when someone needs a complicated idea explained in simpler terms.
FOMO - Fear of missing out
BOOMS - Bored out of my skull
HTH - Happy to help (sometimes used as Here to Help)
PITR - Parent in the room
MTFBWY - May the Force be with you (obvious Star Wars reference)
ICBW - It could be worse
SOML - Story of my life
T4BU - Thanks for being you
NAGI - Not a good idea
PITA - Pain in the ass
DAE - Does anyone else?
UDI - Unidentified drinking injury (meaning that random bruise you find after a night out)
TBBH - To be brutally honest
TL;DR - Too long; didn’t read (often used to summarize a long piece of information especially on Reddit)
TTYN - Talk to you never
AOMM - Always on my mind
WDALYIC - Who died and left you in charge?
Hopefully, the list above wasn’t 2M2H. After all, TTTT.
MTBWY and DFTBA!