I was reading a post by Steve Gibson about recent attempts to hack Apple’s iMessage (apparently successful), when I spotted the acronym TL;DR. While the Security Now podcast and Steve Gibson’s site makes for some very high quality reading, I thought a short post about technology acronyms might be useful. If you know what tl;dr means, just go ahead and skip this post.
TL;DR: Too long; didn’t read
What It Means: Said whenever a nerd makes a post that is too long to bother reading.
“The TL;DR of the research study is….”
AMA: Ask Me Anything
What It Means: Ask Me Anything is a series started on Reddit, where an authority on a subject fields open questions. It is now used more widely on the Internet, with any sort of public Q&A being termed an AMA.
Bae: Babe / Before Anyone Else
What It Means: Urban Dictionary says Bae is a Danish word for poop. Unfortunately, the Internet thinks it’s a term of endearment: either an acronym for “before anyone else” or a shortening of “babe”. Soon enough, pop stars Pharrell and Miley Cyrus turned it into a song, “Come get it, bae.” Sorry Danes, this is what the word means, now and forever. The good news is that most of the Internet also treats it as a term of mockery in memes and captions for images, so you can feel free to use it to be sassy. If you’re interested, Esquire has a detailed piece on the rise of bae.
DAE: Does Anyone Else?
What It Means: DAE is generally a prefix for a question, where the person asking wants to know if they are not alone in whatever they are experiencing. It’s huge on Reddit, niche forums, and discussion groups, but is not used as regularly elsewhere on the Internet.
DM: Direct Message
What It Means: Twitter’s Direct Message feature lets you send private messages to your friends, or receive private messages from anyone. It’s especially useful for sharing information you don’t want to post in public, like your phone number or address. “DM” is slowly becoming the default way of telling someone to message you privately, much like “PM” in the past for personal message/private message.
ELI5: Explain Like I’m 5
What It Means: When someone gives a complex explanation for an event and you need them to dumb it down for you, ask them to “explain it like I’m 5 years old”, or ELI5. Most often, it’s used to explain science or technology in layman’s terms. Big on Reddit and discussion forums, not so big on other forms.
FTFY: Fixed That For You
What It Means: This particular phrase is used in two ways. The first is literal, where if you say something that has an obvious unintentional mistake, another person on the Internet corrects it for you, adding, “FTFY.” The other way is sarcastic.
Facepalm: Short for “Ugh, idiot.”
What It Means: When someone does something stupid, instinctively, your palm hits your own face or forehead. That entire series of action is now reduced to a single word: facepalm. It can be used to convey dismay, disappointment, ridicule, or disapproval.
Headdesk: Supreme frustration
What It Means: Headdesk is the extreme facepalm. When someone says or does something monumentally idiotic, you hit your head on the desk to convey your utter loss of faith in humanity. As you flail for hope, take solace in the knowledge that at least you can express your feelings in one succinct word.
HIFW: How I Felt When
What It Means: This is another acronym that reduces the number of characters you type, giving you more space to say what you want in the 140-character limitation of Twitter. Typically, HIFW is paired with an image, video, or a hilarious reaction GIF when words aren’t enough.
ICYMI: In Case You Missed It
What It Means: One of the few times the Internet tries to be polite, ICYMI is just a precaution when you aren’t sure if other people already know about something, or when you are repeating something you have said before. It’s a way of saying, “You might have already seen this, but if not, here you go.”
IRL: In Real Life
What It Means: The Internet is the virtual life. People often have a whole second persona online, or keep their real life neatly separated from their online life. If you want to talk about something in your real life, the qualifier “IRL” is enough to let people know. Just remember, the Internet can aid in real-life interactions.
JSYK: Just So You Know
What It Means: FYI, if you still use “FYI” to be sassy when schooling someone, you’re old. JSYK is the new FYI, so get with it. End of.
NSFW: Not Safe For Work
What It Means: If you’re at the office, you don’t want to open a link that has nudity, graphic language, or anything offensive. If the link says “NSFW”, then it’s not safe to open in an environment where someone might see it and be offended.
TBT: Throwback Thursday
What It Means: When you want to post an old photo, hold off till Thursday and tag it with #ThrowbackThursday or #TBT. It’s a sure-fire way to get more likes and comments on Instagram. While TBT is used more on Instagram than anywhere else, it has become a central part of the Internet’s lexicon and is used everywhere.
YMMV: Your Mileage May Vary
What It Means: In a similar situation or with a product, your experience might not be the same as someone else’s experience. The Internet has decided to make it easy to say that with “YMMV”.
YOLO: You Only Live Once
What It Means: YOLO is a justification for doing something that you probably shouldn’t be doing, but want to do it anyway. It’s also used ironically as commentary on someone else doing something idiotic.