BRB LOL OK… acronyms have really grown with the adoption of the internet and tiny keyboards. People have increasingly more to say in less space, whether it’s communicating through the space restrictions on Twitter or tapping on a little smartphone screen. These acronyms have woven their way into our daily life, with it being NBD to say BRB when you GTG.

We’ve rounded up the top five acronyms that make your life easier through everyday use, what they mean and when to use them (or not).


BRB is how people used to tell their friends to expect a period of silence during instant message chats, by letting them know that you would Be Right Back (BRB). Maybe it was to take a bathroom break, or because your mom was awkwardly lingering too close when you were flirting with a crush on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). Now BRB has even worked its way into business lexicon, with people having no problem telling a coworker they’ll BRB from a snack break, or that they’ll return briefly after a jaunt around the office.


ASAP has military origins and means As Soon As Possible. Depending on the situation you’re in, it can be a substitute for right now, especially if a burly guy in a uniform is yelling it at you. These days, ASAP can be used a bit more subtly to convey to a coworker that you’d prefer they not dither over a task you need them to complete. ASAP can be pronounced by each individual letter, or as "a-SAP."


How about a TED talk? Ever wondered why TED was capitalized like it was an acronym? Because it is! TED stands for Tell me, Explain to me, Describe to me and is the basis on which the talks are founded. Each TED speaker’s job is to tell, explain and describe something to their audience. Following this format gets the speakers to tell stories in a predictable format, while being able to maintain plenty of creativity in their presentations.


Other acronyms don’t even seem like they are one. But indeed, the ZIP code you use every day is an acronym that stands for Zone Improvement Plan. The ZIP codes weren’t invented until 1963 and were created to make mail deliverable faster across the rapidly growing United States.


And then there’s LOL, the internet term for Laughing Out Loud. In the beginning of internet acronyms, some people tried to make Lots of Love happen. But Laughing Out Loud pushed it out of the way to become the standard we use today, even if we aren’t really laughing but want to show amusement at a statement, or to soften a joke. LOL is acceptable to use socially in text versions only and isn’t really used out loud — because if someone can hear you say it, why not just laugh instead?