Instant Messaging Phrases We Still Use Today

Monday, July 12 min read

The days of AOL Instant Messenger are over, but we still iMessage, Slack, WhatsApp, DM, and plain old text. And thanks to the prevalence of these digital messages, shorthands and acronyms have even crept into our speech.

Of course, most texting acronyms were born out of necessity. Early cell phones condensed a 26-letter alphabet onto eight keys. This meant a lot of repeated button tapping that was as exhausting for the mind as it was for the thumbs. Then we moved onto predictive texting, but character limits were still a challenge. When you have to spend $0.10 for every 160 characters, you quickly become creative.

Fast forward to the modern day, and certain acronyms are as popular as ever. In fact, despite the omnipresence of full keyboards and free messages, new acronyms are still being created.

Here is a brief look at some IM phrases that are still in use today:


Be right back/got to go were two extremely popular acronyms in the AOL/MSN heyday. If you had to walk away from your keyboard during an intense conversation, you didn't want your friend to think your dial-up signal had dropped. A quick "brb" meant you would be back in a jiffy. Now they’re really just used as a throwback, but you might even say "bee-arr-bee" out loud when you're leaving a room.


Just kidding is commonplace in memes and texts alike. It allows the user to instantly turn a seemingly rude statement into a joke, with a simple two-letter insertion.


Right now is part of a newer wave of abbreviations, possibly in its peak of popularity today. Rn is huge rn.


Hit me up had a surge in 2010 when an image of a boy with a sign asking someone out to prom included "hmu." It went viral and the rest is history.


Shaking my head is used to show disapproval or embarrassment. It is frequently included in or commented on memes and videos.


Another one that's still used is the ubiquitous "omg" (oh my god).


But are you REALLY laughing out loud? Perhaps the most famous of them all, lol continues to thrive. It even serves as a punctuation mark in today's text-speak. Instead of a period at the end of that kinda joking/kinda not sentence, just end it with an "lol." Lol is more than an acronym.

Photo credit: Yevhenii Orlov/ iStock

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