Given how much time we spend on them, it’s hard to believe that Twitter and YouTube have only been around for about 15 years. With famous Tweets regularly making news and YouTube videos turning everyday people into overnight sensations, it’s no wonder that these platforms have had such an impact on not only what type of information we consume, but what the words we use. Here are a few words that stem from Twitter and YouTube – whether talking about using the platform itself or the lingo it’s responsible for popularizing.


Twitter is truly a social world unto itself, and the Twitterverse is where all the action happens (you could also cite the less popular Twitosphere). As you might expect, the word stems from a combination of the platform’s name plus the suffix –verse, as in, universe. And it’s not just slang either – the OED added Twitterverse to the online version of its dictionary around 2012.

Tweet / Retweet

Like Twitterverse, the OED added these words to the online dictionary in the early part of the current decade, and Tweet actually made the print dictionary in 2018. Tweets, of course, have been around since the 1800s, used to describe a chirping noise. But the popularity of this word and its new definition as a post or way to communicate on Twitter skyrocketed in the mid-2000s. Retweet (or RT) means to repost someone else’s tweet.  


Surprisingly, hashtags, now a ubiquitous part of Twitter, were actually invented by an open-source advocate and Twitter user named Chris Messina. The pound sign (#) had been used in tech speak for years to highlight a special meaning. Messina suggested people on Twitter start tagging their posts to form groups or allow people to track interests, with no web-based management required. While at first Twitter was reluctant to adopt the usage, it caught on with the use of #sandiegofire in 2007. Today, hashtag is even used in common speech as a way to denote subtext.


This word isn’t specific to Twitter and YouTube, but it’s certainly related to the rise of social media superstars that have a mega influence on their legions of fans and followers. Notably, YouTube has coined its own term, Creator, to give its influencers a more creative label.


Yes, this is a guy’s name, infamously used for Eminem’s fictional superfan in a song of the same name. Today, the internet uses stan or stanning to describe obsessive levels of fandom, dating back to a 2008 Tweet. Its popularity has earned it a spot on the OED’s watch list.  

HIFW & Other Acronyms

Twitter’s famous original 140-character Tweet limits have led to some creative and popular acronyms that appear all over the web – FTW, YOLO, FML, IMO, FWIW, TFW, IDGAF, ICYMI, IMO, IRL and FOMO being a few of the most notable. How I Feel When, or HIFW, is another popular pick, often paired with a video or GIF when you can’t find the right words.


Influencers and social media celebs that are prominent on a particular platform may be called Instagrammers or Twitterers/Tweeters, but no title is as widely adopted as YouTuber. While the word is primarily used for content creators, fans and users have been known to apply it to themselves.  


Platform-agnostic video stars may adopt the label vlogger – a combination of video and blogger – and even those on YouTube or talking about YouTube stars will use the same term.


You can collect likes, fans and subscribers, depending on what platform you’re on, but many people in the social sphere will sum those devotees up as followers.


Short for direct message but said as a word, DMs are private messages that can be sent and received on Twitter as a way to make this very public platform a little more conducive to private communication. It’s slowly but surely supplanting the previous (and synonymous) term PM, for personal or private message.  


Not every word invented by Twitter is a new word, but rather a new definition of an existing word. Case in point: Mentions, which are used to tag another user within a Tweet by using the @ symbol in front of their username.