“BTW IDK when ur free. OMW to work now. DM me and LMK when we can meet up IRL.”
If that sounded like nonsense to you, you might need a little help learning the acronyms used on social media.
And who can blame you? There’s a lot of internet slang out there. These terms aren’t like 80s slang expressions, which fit neatly into a single decade. They’re also unlike slang from one particular area or group of people. Social media slang words span the entire internet—and the list keeps growing.
This can make interacting with people on social media very confusing for native English speakers and learners alike.
To help you out, we’ve compiled this list of 16 social media slang terms you need to know.
What it means: Ask me anything
The term AMA was popularized on Reddit, an online forum where people go to discuss all sorts of topics. If someone says AMA, they’re inviting others to ask them anything they’re curious about; the expectation is that they’ll give an honest answer.
Example: “Wanna know what it’s like to serve in the army? AMA!”
What it means: By the way
Use this one when you want to mention something that’s not directly connected to the current topic—e.g., something you forgot to say earlier or a bit of extra info you want to give someone.
Example: “I’ll be there at 3. BTW I have a cold so I won’t get too close to you.”
What it means: Direct message
You’ll see this one on a platform like Instagram. Instead of having a conversation with someone on the public page for everyone to see, you can send a DM, which is a private message.
Example: “If you’re interested in my interior design services, DM me for pricing info.”
What it means: Flashback Friday / Follow Friday
Depending on where and how FF is used, it can mean different things. If you see the hashtag #FF accompanying an old photo someone has posted on their personal Facebook page, they’re likely using it to mean “Flashback Friday,” meaning that Fridays are for sharing old memories, (flashbacks), usually in the form of photos or videos.
If you see it on Twitter, though, it means “Follow Friday.” Once a week (on Fridays), many Twitter users take the opportunity to suggest Twitter accounts for others to follow.
Example 1: “This is me and my brother at our grandparents’ house in 1992.” #FF
Example 2: “If you’re ready to trash all your worn-out summer clothes, check out the @sumthreads summer collection and start feeling cute! #FF”
What it means: Fear of missing out
This one is such a relatable feeling that it’s made its way from internet speak into our regular vocabulary. FOMO describes that feeling you get when you’re not—or might not be—participating in something that you think could be a lot of fun. If you’re someone who’s happiest attending every event you’re invited to, you’re probably familiar with the concept of FOMO (and doing everything you can to avoid it).
Example: “I was supposed to study last night but I went to the party because I had FOMO.”
What it means: For the win
You use FTW when you want to describe something as the best or greatest; it could also be used to celebrate an achievement. Sometimes FTW is used in an ironic, comical way.
Example: “Forgetting sunscreen and getting a painful sunburn FTW! #regrets #wearsunscreen”
What it means: In case you missed it
You can use this expression when you want to bring something to someone’s attention that they may not have seen previously. It’s often used on social media if someone is sharing an article or photo that’s not new but that’s being shared again.
Example: “ICYMI here are some photos from our new store’s grand opening last week.”
What it means: I don’t know
You’d use IDK the same way you would when speaking to someone in person. You’ll see this one in text messages or in conversations on apps like WhatsApp.
Speaker 1: “Any plans this weekend?”
Speaker 2: “IDK maybe just go to the beach.”
What it means: I know, right?
The expression “I know, right?” is used in real-life conversations as well as online, where it’s abbreviated to IKR. You’d use this to agree with what someone just said.
Speaker 1: “Her friend is really good-looking!”
Speaker 2: “IKR!”
What it means: In my opinion/In my humble opinion
You’d use IMO or IMHO in an online conversation or post where you want to express your thoughts while ensuring that people know it’s just your opinion.
Example: “I understand why people want to have children, but IMO, there are already too many people in the world.”
What it means: In real life
This is another abbreviation that’s been around for ages. IRL simply refers to the part of life that takes place away from phone and computer screens.
Example: “We’ve been chatting online for a few months now. Wanna meet IRL?”
What it means: If you know, you know
Use the #IYKYK hashtag when a particular idea, photo, experience, memory, etc. will make sense to some people but not to others. In other words, only select people will understand what you’re talking about—they’re the ones who “know.”
Example: “Well . . . that was NOT the grad party we expected! #IYKYK”
What it means: Laughing my ass off
Another one of the earliest social media slang terms, this classic online exclamation is used to express that something is hilarious—so hilarious, in fact, that your laughter is causing your . . . ahem . . . behind to fall right off!
Speaker 1: “I fell off the sidewalk when I was walking to work this morning and landed in a puddle.”
Speaker 2: “LMAO did you just learn to walk?”
What it means: Let me know
Use this abbreviation for “let me know” when you want someone to get back to you about something you’ve discussed, such as when they’re available to hang out.
Example: “LMK when you’re free to go camping.”
What it means: On my way
Imagine you’ve got plans with a friend and you message them to ask where they are or what time they’re going to arrive. They might hit you with an OMW, meaning “on my way.” But beware: Some people will use this even if they’re nowhere near leaving their house yet, just so you’ll stop bugging them.
Speaker 1: “Where are you? Movie starts in 5 minutes!”
Speaker 2: “OMW. 2 minutes.”
What it means: That feeling when
You’ll usually find TFW accompanying a photo or a statement that conveys a funny, emotional or otherwise relatable situation.
Example: “TFW you’re done working for the day and it’s still warm and sunny outside.”
TFW you finally understand social media slang terms
Now that you’ve got the hang of 16 acronyms used on social media, you’re probably feeling a lot more confident. It’s time to join in on the conversation instead of sitting on the sidelines with a case of FOMO. Social media slang terms FTW!
Andrea is a Canadian freelance writer and editor specializing in English, e-learning, EdTech, and SaaS. She has a background as an ESL teacher in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. In her free time, Andrea loves hanging out with her husband and children, creating recipes in the kitchen, and reading fiction. She also loves camping and jumping into lakes whenever possible.
Learn more about Andrea on LinkedIn or check out her website.