25 Most Common Abbreviations You Might Be Using Wrong

Posted by , Updated on February 8, 2024

Common abbreviations can be surprisingly tricky. Sometimes their meaning changes depending on who is using or reading the abbreviation (a misunderstanding that has lead to some very awkward conversations). Some abbreviations are more common than others so it’s reasonable to think that everyone would know their meaning. Yet even the most common abbreviations could be misunderstood. Today, we’re going to take a look at the 25 most common abbreviations you might be using wrong.



akaSource: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aka

AKA means, “Also known as” and refers to an alias or second name a person, place, or thing might have.



fyiSource: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3t0lxy/what_acronym_did_you_think_meant_something_else/cx23h1v/

One Redditor explained they used the abbreviation FYI at work and their boss got really mad. Apparently, he thought it meant something pretty vulgar. In reality, it just means “For your information.” Offices use this one a little too much.



willy wonka etaSource: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eta

ETA stands for, “Estimated Time of Arrival” and is usually used in travel settings like airport terminals or when someone really wants something.



IIRC memeSource: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3t0lxy/what_acronym_did_you_think_meant_something_else/cx21pc5/

This one is a little trickier. One Redditor thought IIRC had to do with the IRC chat rooms. In reality, IIRC means, “If I Recall Correctly.”



flourishSource: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fl.

While FL can stand for Florida, in this case, “fl.” is a common abbreviation in textbooks and is Latin for flourish. It’s used in relation to the time a person was active in something they were known for.



asl memeSource: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3t0lxy/what_acronym_did_you_think_meant_something_else/cx20dka/?utm_content=permalink&utm_medium=front&utm_source=reddit&utm_name=AskReddit

In the days when chat rooms were super popular on the internet, a common abbreviation they used was A/S/L. It stands for Age/Sex/Location but one Redditor thought it was people swearing at each other.



brbSource: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3t0lxy/what_acronym_did_you_think_meant_something_else/cx27lcv/

BRB is a pretty common abbreviation used in texting for “Be Right Back” but one Redditor thought it meant they burped. So they would always reply with LOL.



lol memeSource: http://gizmodo.com/5909534/uk-prime-minister-thought-lol-meant-lots-of-love

If you once thought LOL stood for “Lots of Love” then you’re not alone. Even the former UK Prime Minister thought the same. Of course, we all know it stands for “Laugh Out Loud.”



jk memeSource: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3t0lxy/what_acronym_did_you_think_meant_something_else/cx20buz/

JK is about as common as LOL but one Redditor thought it just meant “joke.” Which, all things considered, isn’t too far off. If you’re still not sure, it means, “Just Kidding.”



faq memeSource: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3t0lxy/what_acronym_did_you_think_meant_something_else/cx22l64/

FAQ stands for “Frequently Asked Questions” which one Redditor thought it just was another way of saying “Facts.” It also kind of sounds like a word that would be bleeped on television.



etc memeSource: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/etc

Etc. simply means, “And Other Similar Things” and is usually used when listing things out in a sentence. Yul Brynner in The King and I also likes to use it a lot.



eom elfSource: http://www.smart-words.org/abbreviations/text.html

EOM stands for “End of Message” and is usually used in emails at work when someone writes a message in the subject line and then places “EOM” at the end, indicating you don’t need to open the email.



glhf memSource: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3t0lxy/what_acronym_did_you_think_meant_something_else/cx20mrm/

GLHF is a texting abbreviation for “Good luck, have fun” but one Redditor thought it meant, “Good lord, holy…” We’ll let you figure it out from there.



gmoSource: http://non-gmoreport.com/what-is-non-gmo-what-are-genetically-modified-foods/

GMO is a hot button abbreviation used a lot these days. Many brands try to sell their products with “Non-GMO” to draw in customers even when it never had GMOs to begin with. GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organisms.”



TLDRPicardSource: https://www.internetslang.com/TLDR-meaning-definition.asp

You’ll see TL;DR all over the internet, and especially on Reddit. It’s an indicator by someone that a passage was too long to read. It literally means, “Too Long; Didn’t Read.”



awolSource: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/AWOL

AWOL is a military abbreviation that means, “Absent without leave.” Usually indicating someone either took off or went missing without telling anyone.



missing-in-actionSource: https://www.internetslang.com/MIA-meaning-definition.asp

Similar to AWOL, MIA means, “Missing in Action” and was a military term for a soldier missing in battle. More broadly, people might use it to indicate someone is missing during a chaotic time.



ad memeSource: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/3t0lxy/what_acronym_did_you_think_meant_something_else/cx29c7l/

In terms of historical purposes, AD means, “anno Domini” which is Latin for “The Year of Our Lord.” Essentially, anytime after the birth of Christ. However, one Redditor thought it meant, “After Dinosaurs.”



btw memeSource: http://www.abbreviations.com/BTW

BTW is a texting abbreviation meaning, “By the way.”



PIN NumberSource: http://www.abbreviations.com/PIN

PIN stands for “Personal Identification Number” which many will say “PIN Number.” However, that’s essentially just saying, “Personal Identification Number Number.” So, just say PIN.



myob memeSource: http://www.abbreviations.com/MYOB

MYOB is internet slang for “Mind Your Own Business.”



so memeSource: http://www.abbreviations.com/SO

People will often talk about their “S.O.” but some people may not know what this means. S.O simply stands for “Significant Other” like a spouse or a partner.



Atm-MemeSource: http://www.abbreviations.com/ATM

Depending on the context of a conversation ATM can mean different things. In it’s most common form, ATM stands for “Automated Teller Machine.” So when someone says “ATM Machine” they are literally saying “Automated Teller Machine Machine”. However, ATM is also an acronym for “At the moment” and is used during a chat conversation or e-mail.



TMI MemeSource: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/tmi

When someone tells you way too much detail about something, you’d reply, “TMI.” It means, “Too Much Information.”



nsfw memeSource: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/NSFW

The internet has pioneered the use of NSFW due to many people at work browsing the internet. As a way to help people not get fired, they tag something with NSFW. NSFW stands for “Not Safe For Work.” However, sometimes people use it more broadly as anything offensive, vulgar, or inappropriate.

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