A Must-Read Guide to Twitter Slang, Lingo, Abbreviations and Acronyms

6 min read
This story originally appeared on Business Insider

With only 140 characters to convey your thoughts, knowing shortened Twitter lingo is an important part of learning the ropes of the popular social media platform. 

If you weren't an early adopter of Twitter, or don't spend a ton of time checking your timeline (or if you're just a normal human being with better things to do) you can get a little behind in Twitter abbreviations and acronyms.

Also, with Twitter's IPO coming up, would-be investors ought to be able to understand the medium they're considering investing in.

Here's our crash course in lingo to help you feel a little less lost navigating the Twitterverse:

SMH = Shaking My Head. You can use SMH when you read something that you don't agree with, or something that disgusts you. 

SMDH = Shaking My Damn Head. This is useful if you REALLY don't agree with something, or if something REALLY disgusts you.

SMH, SMDH = Shaking My Head, Shaking My DAMN Head. The aforementioned in one phrase. It's important to note that using the two phrases together is a more sarcastic reaction than an earnest one if the reaction is to something empirically eye-rolling.

H/T = Hat Tip. Use this if you're sharing something you heard through someone else. It's nice to give credit. 

RT = Retweet. Retweet means someone said something you either: agree with, laughed at, or wish you thought of first. When you retweet, you are taking someone else's tweet and putting it on your own timeline so that your followers can see it. Retweets are often not endorsements. Manual Retweets, or, copying and pasting someone's tweet and tacking an "RT" before it, making the tweet your own, is something many people "SMH, SMDH" at. 

Marissa Mayer RT'ed this tweet onto her timeline:

MT = Modified Tweet. MT is when you copy and paste someone's tweet and add your own comment, but you have to shorten the original tweet to make everything fit. 

TBH = To Be Honest. If you're just being honest about your opinions, tack on a "tbh" to the end of whatever it is you're saying. Other variations include: TBQH (To Be Quite Honest).

These people are sharing their honest opinions of the new iOS 7 software:

IMO = In My Opinion (can also be IMHO, In My Humble Opinion). Much like TBH and TBQH, these are acronyms you can tack onto a tweet to help you convey your opinion. It's a shorter way to say 'just sayin', which is the virtual equivalent of a patronizing shrug. 

ICYMI = In Case You Missed It. Twitter moves fast. Sometimes you can't see everything or catch every story. If someone sends out a link prefaced with ICYMI, they've likely sent it out earlier or are mentioning something that they assume most people have already seen. 

# = Hashtag. An easy way to follow along with an event unfolding on Twitter. Clicking on the hashtag will bring you to everyone tweeting about the same thing. This is good for live events people are watching en masse, like the Super Bowl or the Grammys, as well as breaking news.

The Dot before using someone's @ name: If you put a period before someone's username at the beginning of a tweet, everyone who follows you will be able to see that tweet. If you start the tweet with someone's username, the only people who will be able to read it are those who follow both you AND the person you are tweeting.

Subtweet = Tweeting behind someone's back. Subtweeting occurs when you tweet about someone or something without tagging them using the @ symbol. A subtweet can also be a general complaint directed at no one person in particular. 

There are other common phrases you'll see in certain parts of Twitter. Among Seinfeld fans, a mispelling of the word "imagine" as "imagen" floats around often, paying homage to a humorous Twitter account, @Seinfeld2000. The account creates obscure would-never-be-episodes of Seinfeld but spells everything wrong.

If that seems weird to you, be wary of Weird Twitter. According to KnowYourMeme, Weird Twitter refers to a "loosely connected group of Twitter users who are known to experiment with spelling, punctuation and format for humor or poetry."


You can read a very interesting history of Weird Twitter here.

Don't forget the Twitter Canoe. A Twitter Canoe is where you're stuck in a thread with a bunch of people replying at one another. The earliest mention of a Twitter Canoe is from August 2012 by Lindsey Weber, an editor at New York Magazine's Vulture

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