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17 Internet Abbreviations: What They Mean and How To Use Them

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Staying up to date with ever-evolving internet lingo may seem impossible, but we’re here to make it slightly easier for you with this list of 17 of the most common abbreviations. We’ll review what they mean and provide examples to teach you how to use them.

White text over purple background reads "Common Internet Abbreviations."
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with common abbreviations.

In this world of social media and instant messaging, it’s hard to avoid the use of common internet abbreviations. They’re everywhere you look, from the email your colleague just sent you to the advertisements you see as you walk down the street. And if you don’t keep up with these rapidly changing abbreviations, you’ll find yourself confused and drowning in a sea of letters and shortened phrases.

Consider this blog post your lifesaver as we go over 17 of the most common internet abbreviations and show you exactly how to use them.

What Are Abbreviations?

Abbreviations are shortened forms of words and phrases. Think of Dr. for doctor and ASAP for as soon as possible.

It’s important to remember that the term abbreviation is an umbrella term. There are different types of abbreviations, including acronyms and initialisms.

Generally, an abbreviation is a contracted form of a word. A few examples include:

Atty. = Attorney
Govt. = Government
St. = Street

On the other hand, an acronym is a shortened form of a phrase that consists of multiple words. Some examples include:

NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration
PIN = Personal Identification Number
SCUBA = Self-contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

The letters that form an acronym are pronounced as a whole. In simpler terms, they essentially create a new word. However, this isn’t the case for initialisms, which are shortened forms of phrases in which the letters are pronounced distinctly.

FBI = Federal Bureau of Investigations (pronounced F-B-I)
VIP = Very Important Person (pronounced V-I-P)
ATM = Automated Teller Machines (pronounced A-T-M)

Other types of abbreviations include:

  • Clippings: When entire syllables are removed from a word. An example is ad, which refers to advertisement.
  • Contractions: When phrases are shortened by replacing certain letters with apostrophes, such as you’re for you are.
  • Textese: Refers to online slang or shortened forms of words and phrases that can include numbers (like h8 for hate) and combinations of initialisms, clippings, etc. (like wknd for weekend).
Image shows "abbreviation" as an umbrella, with "contractions," "initialisms," "acronyms," and "textese" under it.
“Abbreviation” serves as an umbrella encompassing many other terms. 

Seven Common Internet Abbreviations (With Meanings)

The internet abbreviations below are technically online slang or textese. That means they’re usually used in text messages, on social media, or when speaking casually to a friend or colleague. They should never be used in formal situations like emailing your boss or professor.

1. DM

A DM is a private message sent on social media platforms like X and Instagram. They can be sent to a specific individual or groups of people.

My phone isn’t working, so send me a DM on Instagram, and we can coordinate the details.

2. FTW

FTW is an abbreviation of for the win, a phrase used to express excitement or enthusiasm for something.

I’m hungry. Let’s eat. Pizza FTW!


FWIW means for what it’s worth. It usually precedes a statement that may not be considered highly valuable but is still worth mentioning.

FWIW, despite all the tiny mishaps, I had a great time at your party.


ICYMI stands for in case you missed it, a phrase used to share information with those who may not have heard or seen it the first time it was mentioned.

ICYMI, the latest podcast episode is now available on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.

5. IDK

IDK has been around for a long time and is still frequently used. This abbreviation stands for I don’t know, which expresses a lack of knowledge or understanding.

IDK what’s going on, but everyone has been acting really weird lately.

6. IMO

IMO is an abbreviation for in my opinion. This phrase is used when one is about to express something that is not a fact but rather a subjective view on something.

IMO, you should wear the second outfit you showed me.


IYKYK stands for if you know you know, which is an expression indicating that only certain people understand or have knowledge about a specific topic.

The secret lake is the place to be! IYKYK.


LMAO is an abbreviation for laughing my ass off, which expresses amusement and laughter.

LMAO! I can’t believe that happened to you. How embarrassing.

9. LMK

LMK means let me know. Consider it an extremely casual and idiomatic way to say keep me updated or informed.

LMK what you want to do later tonight so I can plan accordingly.

10. LOL

Consider LOL—which means laugh out loud—an expression of amusement and laughter much like LMAO that’s used in a funny situation but perhaps not a hysterical one.

LOL, that was a good line.

11. NSFW

NSFW means not safe for work (or not suitable for work) and indicates that the contents of a message are inappropriate to view in a professional or public setting.

Hilarious prank! Warning: NSFW!

12. NVM

NVM is short for never mind, which is a phrase that indicates the aforementioned statement or question can be disregarded or is no longer relevant.

NVM, I found it, so you don’t have to keep helping me look for it.

13. OMG

OMG stands for oh my gosh (or oh my God) and expresses excitement, surprise, or disbelief.

OMG! I cannot believe we’re starting classes tomorrow.

14. OMW

OMW means on my way and is used to state that you are currently en route to a specific destination.

I’m OMW. Please be ready when I get there.

15. SMH

SMH is a shortened version of the phrase shake my head, which expresses shame, disappointment, or disapproval.

SMH, I can’t believe I failed the exam again.

16. TBH

TBH stands for to be honest, which is a common expression people use to introduce a straightforward opinion.

TBH, I didn’t think she would win and become the class president.

17. WIP

If you’re working on a song, painting, or if something is still being made or developed, you can consider it your WIP, or work in progress.

I would rather not give anyone a sneak peek because it’s still a WIP.

IYKYK—LanguageTool Can Help You Write Like a Pro

Sure, it may seem like the list of internet abbreviations is never-ending. But keep this list in your repertoire, and we assure you’ll be well-equipped to write fluently. And if you need further advice with writing, LanguageTool can help, whether you want to sound more casual with your friends or professional with your colleagues! Give it a try and start writing like a native speaker in English or any other of the 30 languages it supports.

LanguageTool, FTW!

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