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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Acronyms and Emoticons

Our popular Internet email, as well as other online communication such as chat rooms and instant messaging, is informal, quick, and easy. Everybody loves communication that is short, concise, and to the point. The shorter, the better. As a matter of a fact, in the name of brevity, you will often see a string of abbreviations, called acronyms, used in electronic communications. This easy-to-learn shorthand works like a simple code and makes communicating electronically more fun.

If you know what NASA or IRS refer to, you are already familiar with acronyms. Email acronyms are similar to regular acronyms—they are words formed from the capitalized letters of each of the first letters of a descriptive phrase or from a combination of letters that represents the long words. An acronym is actually a type of abbreviation. Although you sometimes see acronyms or abbreviations written with periods after each letter—for example, U.S.A.—periods are not used in online acronyms.

Understanding acronyms will add to your enjoyment of online communication. They seem to lighten up the content. Using acronyms is fun. It is like being a member of a club and knowing all the secret codes. Let’s look at some fun ways to use this Internet shorthand.

Saying Goodbye

A whole classification of acronyms for saying goodbye and farewell has been created—a kind of online closing for an online communicating you are doing. Why not try some of these when writing your email or the next time you leave a chat room?

  • BBL—Be back later

  • BFN—Bye for now

  • BRB—Be right back

  • TTFN—Ta ta for now

  • TTYL—Talk to you later

When you want to urge someone on or send them a word of encouragement, try this well-known acronym:

  • WTG—Way to go

Many of these interjections can add expression and personality to your messages:

  • BTW—By the way

  • FWIW—For what it’s worth

  • GMTA—Great minds think alike

  • IAE—In any event

  • IMHO—In my humble opinion

  • IOW—In other words

  • JFYI—Just for your information

  • OTOH—On the other hand

  • WRT—With respect to

  • WYSIWYG —What you see is what you get

It is easy to tell that this acronym was developed from chat room conversation.

  • PMFJI—Pardon me for jumping in

How about a few regarding something funny?

  • LOL—Laughing out loud

  • ROTFL—Rolling on the floor laughing

Some of the common response acronyms seem somewhat flippant and even a little sarcastic. Quite a few of them originated from chat room banter. Perhaps because online communications have no face-to-face contact, it is very easy to overlook the feelings of your reader. You might try using these common responses, which show sensitivity:

  • HSIK—How should I know

  • NBD—No big deal

  • NOYB—None of your business

  • OIC—Oh, I see

  • OTL—Out to lunch

  • TIC—Tongue in cheek

FAQR—a new acronym I just coined for "For a quick review"—why not join in the acronym fun? To speed up your messages, pepper them lightly with the appropriate acronyms, but use them sparingly. No one wants to spend hours cracking an over coded message. Remember to use acronyms with sensitivity, in the event that your reader might not know the tone in which you are writing. And last, but not least, be sure to get them right; otherwise, you might have family and friends ROTFL over your attempt to say BFN when you typed NBD instead.

Another very entertaining form of Internet shorthand is using emoticons. Emoticons are keyboard characters that resemble human facial expressions. Emoticons are used to convey emotion or state of mind.

Email, chat rooms, and online conversations such as instant messaging are the Web’s truly unique methods of communication. Electronic communications are somewhat like a cross between a letter without details and a phone call without vocal tones and expressions. In order to convey these missing qualities, a new shorthand can indicate when you are happy, when you are sad, and even when you want to scream. This shorthand uses standard keyboard symbols to produce cute little pictures called emoticons or smileys.

The three most common emoticons created with a keyboard are


A smiley face indicating happiness.


The sad face indicating unhappiness.


The winky face indicates a flirtatious or sarcastic remark.

To get the full impact of the emoticons, you have to lean your head to the left as you look at them. Other emoticons include








A kiss






Bad hair day


Oh, what a night






WOW! (eyes bugging out)


Sticking tongue out


Shedding a tear

Emoticons are so popular that they have advanced into other areas. Although these emoticons have nothing to do with emotions, they include some clever combinations that are just plain fun.


Put your money where your mouth is!


Baseball fan


A baby




Needs a nose job


User with moustache and toupee


Guy with duck tape over his mouth

Emoticons are even used to represent famous people, cartoon characters, and animals. See if you can spot the resemblance or the connection to the person or character noted.


Cindy Crawford or Marilyn Monroe


The pope


Uncle Sam


Charlie Chaplin


Dolly Parton


Donald Trump


Santa Claus




Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer


Mickey Mouse




Marge Simpson





:>( )<


These simple emoticons are still used everyday in chat rooms and email. They have given rise to even more graphical emoticons such as the ones shown in Figure 3.2. These emoticons are easy to use. You can download them free from many websites such as Smileytown at http://www.smileytown.com or Smiley Central at http://www.smileycentral.com. You can even purchase special animated emoticon collections—such as sports and entertainment, holiday, and cat and dog—with programs such as GetSmile at http://www.getsmile.com.

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 These graphical emoticons are used in message boards and email.

Don’t you agree that emoticons are fun? Creating them has become a hobby for some. Even if you don’t want to spend the time to create your own, understanding these cute little computer faces will certainly add to your enjoyment of online communications. And they can always lighten up your email. Try it; you’ll like it. :-)

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