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WTF do all these acronyms mean anyway?


'Peak acronym' has been reached.

'Peak acronym' has been reached.

Ed Power

Ed Power


'Peak acronym' has been reached.

OMG - it looks like we've reached "peak acronym". The internet is a blizzard of ROFLs, LOLs and IMOs while in our daily texting or Snapchatting many of us favour cryptic three-letter abbreviations. For those who fear for the future of the written word, it's the ultimate WTF moment.

The acronym apocalypse has, it is true, been a long time brewing. The military's obsession with hyper-condensed verbiage goes back at least as far as World War II. We have the brave fighting men of the Allied Forces to thank for such trip-off-the-tongue phrases as SNAFU ("situation normal, all f***ed up), STFU (shut the f*** up") and FUBAR (f***ed up beyond all recognition"). Stephen Spielberg should make a movie about it.

But the indignities visited upon English during the madness of war are as nothing compared to the linguistic onslaught brought about by the internet and, in particular, social media. Sure, you COULD go to the trouble of typing "you only live once". But what a waste of time that would be and, well… YOLO, dude.

If you're over the age of 30 or are the sort who reads novels that do not feature the words "Harry Potter" or "Zoella" on the cover, this strange world can be a lot to take in. Fret not, acronym virgin. We've assembled a cut-out-and-retweet guide to the internet short-hand you really, truly can't do without.

DFTBA: Don't Forget To Be Awesome

The only thing more annoying than a Tweeting twerp tossing indecipherable acronyms is a "vlogger" coming up with a shorthand of their own (for those not familiar with internet slang, a vlogger is someone who makes a career out of being irritating on YouTube).

A case in point are the eminently punchable Green brothers, who sign off each video with DFBTA (accompanied, unforgivably, by a Vulcan 'live long and prosper" salute). Like a zombie plague in the water supply "DFTBA" has duly become a linguistic contagion from which there is no escape.

IANAD: I Am Not A Doctor

A friend complains about a sore head/weird cramp in their neck/ pulsating black snake-bite and you've offered some exceedingly flimsy medical advice. It's for them to decide whether they wish to follow your recommendations but, just so they know, your qualifications boil down to four-and-a-half minutes idly scanning WebMD.

TBT: Throw Back Thursday

Millennials love the olden days - such as the mid-90s, when Blur and Oasis had a boxing match on Top of the Pops (or something) and Nirvana spearheaded the "gunge scene" (sounds messy). Thus was born "Throw Back Thursday" - a trend for reposting vintage snaps on Instragram, Twitter and Facebook. It's a reminder that in the TBT ("Time Before Taylor") the Snapchat-less ancients did their best to amuse themselves - though, in a world without retweets, you wonder why they even bothered. #howdidthesepeoplelive?

MTFBWY: May The Force Be With You

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens bearing down on cinemas like an Executor-class Star Destroyer hoving into view above ice planet Hoth, we're being subjected to a Death Star blast of hype. The internet and geekdom are of course cousins once removed - so it's no surprise that Star Wars has spawned its own mini galaxy of acronyms, of which the most commonly used is MTFBWY which, as you've guessed, stands for "May The Force Be With You".

OOO: Out Of Office

Because people who communicate by email are INCREDIBLY BUSY they don't have time to type entire sentences. They certainly don't have space in their schedule - pronounced in the American style - to write something as long and involved as "Out Of Office". Instead, they use "OOO" on their out of office autoreply and, like that, they've exited the building, ready to conquer the world one business brunch at a time (actually they're hiding in the loo playing Minecraft on their phone - but you sort of knew that already).

ELI5: Explain It Like I'm Five

The day is short and all those random Wikipedia entries aren't going to read themselves. In the 21st century, the key to effective communication is breaking things down to their simplest elements and spoon feeding the information to the intended recipient. To put it another way, to get your point across it helps if you can treat people as if they're just about mastered the art of using a potty.

POS: Parent Over Shoulder

The internet is every parent's darkest nightmare - and our worries were not assuaged when CNN last year published its definitive list of teenage acronyms.

Among many, many (many) references to underage sex and substance abuse one that stood out was POS - a coded way of telling your instant-messaging chums that your mother/father is standing over you, presumably to confirm you aren't downloading a terabyte of porn or ordering Ketamine from the Silk Road.

A backlash followed, with many suggesting teenagers did not actually employ the term, though it sounds plenty plausible to most anxious parents.

w/r/t: With Regards To

The thinking person's acronym, w/r/t/ was supposedly coined by literarily pin-up David Foster Wallace - hence the fancypants punctuation. If you're eager to stress your intellectual credentials here, then, is the shorthand for you.

FTW: For The Win

To be inserted in a Tweet when a lucky quirk of fate has befallen you. Maybe you've come down with flu and so, won't have to accompany your girlfriend to her annoying pal's wedding after all. Perhaps you're an Argentinean rugby international who has just been informed you're drawn against Ireland in the knock-out stages of the Rugby World Cup. In either case - FTW!

WYLABOCTGWTR: Would You Like A Bowl of Cream To Go With That Remark?

Cattiness breeds on the web like mould in a student apartment. Twitter, especially, is packed with "miaow" moments. A fortunate thing, then, that the internet came up with the perfect acronym (thank you internet).

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