Q. Call me an old fogey, but I just got an iPhone and started texting. My kids are happy I can text with them now, but I feel like I need to learn a new language! They use all sorts of acronyms in their texts and I have no idea what they are saying. How can I figure out all of these acronyms without hiring a translator?
A. You are not alone. There are thousands of acronyms used for texting and chatting online, with new ones being created constantly. Some people say that they use acronyms to keep their texts short. Others admit to using them as codes to confuse parents. Either way, it can be frustrating when you are trying to read a text and you have no idea what the sender is trying to say.
Before I got married, I shared an apartment in New York with an editor of a fashion magazine. She came from Paris and marveled at all the catalogs we received in the mail. Using her best efforts to update my fashion style, she would mark the outfits in the clothing catalogs with acronyms like NWJ (No Way Jose) or IYBTIWMOT (If You Buy This I Will Move Out Today). As she interpreted her acronyms for me, we would giggle about the codes she invented (though I can’t remember her ever liking any outfits she saw in the catalogs).
I wish that interpreting acronyms was always fun, but more often than not it can be frustrating. To interpret acronyms in text messages, you could search each one on Google, but instead I suggest you download the Netlingo app from the iTunes App Store. This app will be a handy reference on your iPhone so you can search acronyms right from your phone. The app is called The List: Text and Chat Acronyms and is available for $0.99 at the iTunes App Store. The app is also available at the Android Market for $0.99 and is called LOL… Net Lingo Dictionary.
For those who don’t have a smartphone but still need to know what text acronyms are (for example, if you are Being a Parent De-tech-tive and checking out your kids’ text messages), check out Netlingo’s website: Netlingo Top 50. I like this site because the acronyms are listed by topic so you can search according to the following categories:
- Top 50 Acronyms Every Parent Needs to Know
- Top 50 MORE Acronyms Every Parent Needs to Know
- Top 50 Popular Text & Chat Acronyms
- Top 50 Popular Text Terms Used in Business
- Top 50 Newbie Terms Everyone Needs to Know
- Top 50 Tech Terms that are Now Common Expressions
- Top 50 Funniest Terms Used in the Online World
For example, CD9 means Code 9 Parents are in the room. Other codes for the same alert are P911 (Parent Alert), PIR (Parent In Room), PAL (Parents Are Listening) and PAW (Parents Are Watching).
Warning: don’t read the list of acronyms for parents right before you go to sleep at night or you will have nightmares. Some of the acronyms listed in the parent categories are shocking, crude, offensive and upsetting. I hope you never have to see some of the acronyms that are listed there. But if you do need to interpret these sorts of texts, you will be glad that you have this resource.
As for using acronyms, proceed with caution. If you try to text your kids or chat on Facebook using many of these acronyms, well, you will just look like you’re trying too hard to be cool. LOL is a universal acronym but most of the others should be saved for those whose thumbs are sore from texting.
Interestingly, very few acronyms are used on Twitter which has a restriction of 140 characters. Perhaps because tweets go out to the world, senders want to be certain they are understood?
Another warning: with most cell phone plans in the US, you are charged for both the texts you send and the texts you receive. Since you are new to texting, be sure to monitor the number of texts you send and receive to make sure you don’t go over the text limit on your plan and get hit with a nasty cell phone bill!
There is no need to memorize all of the text acronyms out there. Instead, grab an app or consult a website like Netlingo to help you interpret your messages. Your kids will be impressed and/or shocked when they realize you understand what they are trying to say!
Have you ever been stumped by acronyms? How did you figure out what they meant? Let us know in the comments section below!
* Image by Gerry
** Image by idropkid