From rickrolling to seenzoning to being like Bill, the Internet has been giving us plenty of things to waste time on since we realized way back when that it could be a place for fun and foolishness. With social media being the most popular aspect of the online life in recent years, it’s just natural that its users develop their own language to make communication easier.
The simplest way to do this is of course to employ acronyms, and I’m sure we’re all no stranger to the OMGs and the LOLs that have been in popular use for over a decade. More recent developments that have become quite common include the news-outlet-friendly ICYMI (in case you missed it), which is usually inserted at the beginning of tweets recapping the day’s stories, and SMH (shake my head), which is added to signify one’s disapproval or disappointment.
But because of the opposite-of-glacial pace Internet slang evolves, it’s hard to keep up if you’re just a casual social media user or if you’re over the age of 35 (you have a lot of adulting to do and have no time and energy to always be updated, so I don’t blame you). So you might think that some of the posts on your Facebook wall, Twitter feed or Instagram comments section are misspelled words, especially since today’s social media initialisms are often written in lower case, disguising their true nature.
Here are five of the most common initialisms:
af: “as f*ck,” used to express the intensity of what it’s describing “Sleepy af” means “I’m very sleepy.”
ama: “ask me anything”
hmu: “hit me up”
“hmu on fb” means “Add me on Facebook.”
otp: “one true pairing,” a romantic label used to establish the perfection of a relationship
“Bey and Jay #otp” means “Beyonce and Jay Z are the perfect couple.”
rn: “right now”
Beyond acronyms and initialisms, social media continuously transforms existing words to give them new meaning and creates new ones that may or may not be in the running for inclusion in future editions of the dictionary. (The latter’s status as new English words are dependent on their longevity and usage rate, among other criteria.)
Here are a few examples of transformed words:
On fleek: “on point” or the quality of being in a state of perfection
“The halftime show was on fleek” means “The halftime show was sheer perfection.”
Snatched: the new “on fleek”
“Beyonce snatched the halftime show” means “Beyonce made the halftime show perfect” while “Girl, you’re looking snatched rn” means “Everything about you is perfect today – from your hair to your makeup to your outfit down to your shoes.”
Game: loosely defined as “skill” or “talent,” often in the context of consistency
“Your Instagram game is on fleek” roughly means “Your Instagram feed is made up of really good pictures that are beautiful individually, as well as an edited album.”
“Your hair game is strong” could be interpreted as “You always have great hairstyle.”
Doe: a modification on the spelling of “though”
Swole: “extremely muscular,” derived from “swollen”
Highkey: “really,” “overtly”
“I wanna meet @RestingPlatypus highkey” means “I would do anything to meet Jack Falahee.”
Lowkey: “not really,” “a little bit,” “really but it’s not something I want everyone to know”
“I lowkey like that bag” means “I kind of like that bag,” while “Don’t tell anyone but I lowkey listen to JB’s Purpose” means “I’m kind of ashamed to admit that I like Justin Bieber’s Purpose album.”
Same: a more character-limit-friendly way of saying “I feel/think the same way”
Turnt up: “excited,” usually for a party
Zero chill: “frustrated,” “impatient”
“Dave’s got zero chill today; don’t make him wait” means “Dave is in an impatient mood today that he shouldn’t be kept waiting.”
And finally, speaking of chill – parents listen up – “Netflix and chill” has nothing to do with watching movies. It means sex.
I’m at @EdBiado on Twitter and Instagram