Text messaging is a language all its own more often than not — a subset of English, if you will — and all the shorthand, slang, and (most of all) acronyms can leave a newcomer feeling lost. When to use “tbf” versus “tbh”? What does “ikr” mean? How is “omw” different from “omg”?
Never fear: there is a method to the madness.
Whether you use WhatsApp, iMessage, or just about any other platform with verbal messaging capabilities, here are a few of the most widely used acronyms and lingo to save your time and energy in expressing yourself.
Acronym for “I know, right?” Used to signify agreement.
Person 1: it’s so hot I think I might melt
Person 2: ikr
The “omw” meaning in text is so ingrained that many autocorrect features will automatically lengthen the acronym to its phrase: “on my way.”
Person 1: omw, should be there in 15 minutes
Person 2: great!
So famous an emoticon pops up right away when you type it in — the acronym for “oh my god.”
The “tbf” meaning is “to be fair” — a bit more obscure than some of its counterparts, but no less legitimate.
She acted kind of irritated toward me today, but tbf I was 10 minutes late to the morning meeting
Better-known than “tbf,” “tbh” is the classic “to be honest.”
Person 1: hey! do you mind if we reschedule for tomorrow night?
Person 2: that would be perfect, I’m feeling drained after today tbh.
This one is newer and slightly more niche. The “i-” meaning in text, often in the context of “and i-”, refers to something that is so surprising or cringeworthy that one cannot finish the sentence; they cut themselves off. Used for humorous or dramatic effect.
my mom asked my 3yo sister what she wanted from the menu & my sister goes “hel-LO, i can’t READ” i-
One of the earliest and most famous internet acronyms — “be right back.”
This list barely scratches the surface; new slang and sayings are cropping up all the time, so keep your eye on the auto-fill!