One result of the popularity of (forms of communication like) texting/messaging and twitter has been a sharp increase in the abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms in common use. While the meaning of a lot of these is quite easy to understand from the context of the conversation (BTW = by the way, CU = see you, AFAIK = as far as I know, ASAP = as soon as possible, etc.), some of the newer abbreviations (especially those used by young people) can cause confusion.
Recently, there has been quite a bit of mirth in the British press over the revelation that British Prime Minister David Cameron (until recently) thought the popular youth expression LOL (laugh out loud) meant “lots of love.” So, for this edition of youth expressions I decided to ask my teenage nieces and their friends for a quick heads up as to what abbreviations are popular right now among young people in London.
One interesting thing is that, although many of these abbreviations are still only used in written communication, some are starting to creep into spoken language. Those which are also commonly spoken out loud in abbreviated form are shown by an “ * ” and pronunciation is indicated!
acronym – a word formed from the initial letters of words in a phrase and
often pronounced as a word (UNESCO etc.)
initialism – an initial letter abbreviation (BBC etc.)
mirth – laughter, merriment, sometimes laughter about a mishap that befalls
heads up –information or a warning that helps alert a person to possible trouble
Although there are various rules governing the use of upper/lower case for abbreviations in more formal writing, in the case of texting rules don’t matter too much and usage seems to be dependent upon ease of typing more than anything else!
Thus, while acronyms like “OMG”(Oh my god!) often appear in capital letters, abbreviations containing numbers like “b4”(before) often appear in lower case; short abbreviated words like “yh”(yes) would probably be in lower case and abbreviations that are words for example “awks”(awkward) would appear in lower case and may be punctuated like real words (Awks!).
Lastly, although I have included punctuation in the following sentences, in reality, punctuation like full stops might be omitted altogether!
*awks – awkward ; used when a situation is uncomfortable or awkward
A: I bumped into my ex(= ex boyfriend) earlier.
b4 – before
A: Have you been there b4?
B: I think so.
BF – boyfriend/best friend
A: Have you met Stella’s BF yet?
BRB – be right back ; used when you need to leave an online conversation for a short time
A: Someone’s at the door. BRB.
DW – don’t worry
A: I think I failed the exam.
GF – girlfriend
A: Toby has a new GF.
gr8 – great
A: I got the concert tickets.
GTG/g2g – got to go
A: My mum’s home. g2g.
B: C U tomoz(= See you tomorrow).
HBD – happy birthday
B: TKS(= thanks).
IDC – I don’t care/
IDK – I don’t know
A: Why did Mark break up with you?
B: IDK. IDC.
*IDEK – I don’t even know; used when you have done something foolish
‣‣pronounced “I” followed by “deck” as in “ship’s deck”
A: Why did u(= you) do that!
B: IDEK myself!
ILU/ILY – I love you
B: ILY 2(= too).
IKR – I know, right ; used to express agreement
A: She’s nasty.
*JK – just kidding ; joking
‣‣pronounced as in letters “J”, “K”
A: Are you coming to my BD party?
B: JK. What time does it start?
*K/KK – OK
‣‣pronounced as in letters “K” or “K, K”
A: C U later.
*KL – cool
‣‣pronounced as in letters “K”, “ L”
A: See you at school tomoz.
KMT – kiss my teeth; a sound made by sucking one’s teeth in order to show disrespect or disapproval which can also be used to show displeasure in either a jokey or serious manner
A: Why didn’t you come to my party?
B: Soz(= sorry). I had to do my hw(= homework).
NP – No problem.
A: I can’t come to the party.
*OMD – Oh my days! ; used to express surprise/shock
‣‣pronounced as in letters “O”, ”M”, “D”
A: Jake and Terry broke up.
*OMG – Oh my god! ; used to express surprise/ shock
‣‣pronounced as in letters “O”, ”M”, ”G”
A: I lost my new iPhone!
OP – opening/original poster ; a person who starts a thread on the Facebook etc.
A: Who was the OP?
B: Trish was.
*ROFL – rolling on the floor laughing ; another version of LOL that can also be used sarcastically
‣‣pronounced as in “waffle”
A: That’s so funny. LOL!
WTH – What the hell! ; used as a reaction to seeing/hearing something weird or to show you’re angry
A: Mike said you stole his skateboard.
wuu2 – What are you up to? ; What are you doing?
B: Nothing much.
yh – yeah ; yes
A: R U(= Are you) coming to the concert?
4eva – Forever
A: ILU 4eva.
B: ILU 4eva 2.
If you are interested in learning some more common acronyms or abbreviations, Internet searches on words like “acronyms” and “internet” usually bring up a lot of results!