For many parents, the only task more challenging than learning how to text your children is interpreting their responses. With teenagers inventing and using new texting acronyms, emoticons, and slang expressions every minute, the kids don’t even need to guard their devices with passcodes to exclude their parental dinosaurs from their cyber worlds. But since parents are the ones footing the bill for all this teenage texting, we thought it only fair that you be brought up to date on the lingo. Use this texting translator to crack the teen code and avoid embarrassing message misunderstandings. But one caveat: If you discover something you really wish you didn’t know, don’t blame us.
Whether your kids are texting you or their BFFs, their fingers are usually racing to type these must-know acronyms.
IDK I don’t know
ILU, ILY I love you
LYL Love you lots
SMH Shake my head (expresses disapproval)
IDC I don’t care
BRB Be right back
JK Just kidding
TTYL Talk to you later
NVM Never mind
BFF Best friends forever
FOMO Fear of missing out
G2G Got to go
NM Not much
LN Last night
Mup Shorthand for “mupload” or “mobile upload”
S^ Sup? or What’s up?, to which a common response is…
NMJCU? Nothing much, just chilling, you?
Get A Kick Out Of This!
Kids put a whole new texting twist on the classic “haha.” Be sure to brush up on the many different kinds of cackles your children may burst out with.
LOL Laugh out loud
LMFAO Laughing my f***ing a** off
ROFL Rolling on the floor laughing
FOCL Falling off chair laughing
Notice Fs sprinkled in your kids’ texts? Beware: That added consonant may not always stand for “favorite” or “fun-filled.”
WTF What the f*
GTFO Get the f* out
DGAF Don’t give a f*
OMFG Oh my f***ing god
STFU Shut the f* up
FML F* my life
Maybe You Didn’t Want To Know
Pick up on your children’s sarcasm, or even learn when they’re talking about you to their friends. Here’s everything you ever wished to decipher, as well as what you wished remained encrypted.
POS Parent over shoulder
OMG Oh my god
ZOMG OMG (sarcastically)
HU Hook up
HMU Hit me up (meaning: call me)
YOLO You only live once
TMI Too much information
143 I love you
BOYF or BF Boyfriend
GIRLF or GF Girlfriend
BYOB Bring your own beer
<3 Love (a sideways heart!)
LN Last night
Even hyphens, apostrophes, and underscores hold hidden meanings! You’ll never look at semi-colons or asterisks in the same way again.
:) Smiley face
:( Sad face
-_____- Exasperated face (meaning: something is lame); the longer the ___, the stronger the emotion
:-* Kiss face
;) Winky face
8) Wearing shades (meaning: acting cool)
:X Keep mouth shut, secret information!
Note: Some people include noses in their emoticons, so :) becomes :-) or :o)
# is no longer just a number sign. It is also used to create hashtags, or topical tags, that can end up “trending,” especially on Twitter. Hashtags can also be used as commentary, often in an ironic or snarky manner: “Backpack broken, homework flying in hallways. #hellomonday”
Proper texting etiquette may include using repeated letters in a row to signify being friendly or even flirtatious; “Hiiiii” implies much more enthusiasm than “Hi” does! Adding a “z” or an “s” has the same friendly effect, as noted in the phrase “lolz,” which is an exaggerated form of “lol.”
Equal signs and colons may be used as the eyes of emoticon faces, which are most often sideways pictorials.
The symbol produced by pressing Shift 6, or ^, is usually used to represent “up”, as seen in the saying “What’s ^,” meaning “What’s up?”
An asterisk is often used to signify a typo. For example, if you accidentally write “Sue” instead of “Sure,” you might follow up with “*Sure” to clarify what you originally meant to type.
Sarah Greene is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, with a major in economic history, a minor in creative writing, and a sideline in texting.