The Language of 'Text Talk'

The Language of 'Text Talk'

Mobile technology has changed the way we communicate forever, allowing us to contact friends, family and brands in completely different ways. With the whole process of staying in touch now much faster, easier and cheaper for many, it’s no surprise that people now send an estimated 1.07 billion instant messages every day in the UK.

According to new research that we completed with smartphone owners earlier this year[1], we spend an average of 19 minutes sending texts and 32 minutes sending WhatsApp messages daily. With all this phone chat going on, LOL, OMG, BTW and other text abbreviations have become a staple feature in 22% of IMs. Yet, despite our everyday use of IMs and ‘text talk’, our latest research has revealed that only a quarter of us can tell our FYIs from our TGIFs.

Most commonly used 'Text Talk'

The most commonly used text abbreviation has been revealed to be LOL (laugh out loud), with four in ten (41%) text talkers using it daily.

The five most commonly used text abbreviations are:

  1. LOL - Laugh out loud (41% use this)
  2. OMG - Oh my god (26% use this)
  3. BTW - By the way (17% use this)
  4. FYI - For your information (16% use this)
  5. WTF - What the * * * *? (13% use this)

However, 'text talk' has proved to be a difficult language to master, with 75% of those surveyed struggling to become fluent in the language of text.

'Text Talk' fails

FOAK (first of a kind) and HAK (hugs and kisses) are the text abbreviations we find the most confusing to understand, with almost nine in ten (88%) of unclear what they mean!

Other text abbreviations we struggle to understand include DGMW (don’t get me wrong), KMN (kill me now), and C-P (copy and paste).

If you have even received a confusing LOL at the end of a text from a romantic partner, don’t be alarmed as LOL is the most misused abbreviation, despite being the most used, with many believing it stands for ‘lots of love’ instead of ‘laugh out loud’.

Other ‘text talk’ fails include mistaking SMH for ‘so much hate’ instead of ‘shake my head’ and FYI for ‘for your eyes only’ instead of ‘for your information’.

Intant message hotspots

London is the country’s IM hotspot, with residents sending an average of 24 messages a day – totalling a whopping 8,687 instant messages sent a year.

Birmingham and Liverpool are also amongst the country’s biggest IM fans, with residents sending an average of 23 messages a day (or 8,650 a year).

The city most fluent in ‘text talk’ is Belfast, with 39% of all phone users’ messages containing an abbreviation, yet residents send half the number of messages of those living in London and Newcastle – just 12 messages a day on average.

Regardless of how advanced our smartphones have become, one item that has always proved popular is the instant message. Smartphone apps and trends come and go, but the ease and convenience of a short written message has never fallen from favour.

Worried about your data usage when sending all those IMs? Discover how much data you get through every month right here.

Still confused?

To help anyone still struggling to understand ‘text talk’, discover our top 50 text abbreviation translator below:

  1. BM&Y: Between me and you
  2. BFF: Best friends forever
  3. B3: Blah blah blah
  4. BRB: Be right back
  5. BTW: By the way
  6. C-P: Copy and paste
  7. CTN: Can’t talk now
  8. CWOT: Complete waste of time
  9. DIY: Do it yourself
  10. DGMW: Don’t get me wrong
  11. EOD: End of discussion
  12. EM: E-mail
  13. FAQ: Frequently asked questions
  14. FYI: For your information
  15. FYEO: For your eyes only
  16. FOAF: Friend of a friend
  17. HAK: Hug and kiss
  18. HF: Have fun
  19. IMHO: In my humble opinion
  20. IOW: In other words
  21. ICYMI: In case you missed it
  22. ILY: I love you
  23. IMU: I miss you
  24. JTLUK: Just to let you know
  25. KMN: Kill me now
  26. LOL: Laugh out loud
  27. MTFBWU: May the force be with you
  28. MYOB: Mind your own business
  29. MMW: Mark my words
  30. NNTR: No need to reply
  31. NOYB: None of your business
  32. OMG: Oh my god
  33. OMW: On my way
  34. OT: Off topic
  35. OTT: Over the top
  36. OTOH: On the other hand
  37. OATUS: On a totally unrelated subject
  38. PAL: Parents are listening
  39. QT: Cutie
  40. ROTFL: Rolling on the floor laughing
  41. SMH: Shaking my head
  42. SITD: Still in the dark
  43. SLAP: Sounds like a plan
  44. TIA: Thanks in advance
  45. TGIF: Thank god it’s Friday
  46. TMI: Too much information
  47. TTYL: Talk to you later
  48. WTH: What the hell
  49. YMMD: You made my day
  50. XO: Hug and kisses

Whether you're a text lover or avoider, you can find the perfect smartphone for you over at

  1. ‘Text Talk’ survey conducted by in June 2017 with 1,017 UK respondents (aged 18+) that own and regularly use a smartphone. ↩︎