13 Common Acronymns You Had No Idea You’re Using Wrong

If you have been on the internet for a decent amount of time time, chances are good that you have come across a few acronyms. Even if you don’t technically know the definition for the word acronym–which is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word–you definitely know what they are and have most likely used them on more than one occasion. You know, like OMG. LOL. IDK–words that technically stand for a whole other set of words, but carry a pretty different meaning from what they are abbreviated from. (Like, you know that saying “lol” and “laughing out loud” are two entirely different things.)

Acronyms are not new or unique to the internet, obviously–there was NASA before there was LOL–but the internet has certainly heightened its potential for growth. More and more acronyms seem to be borne out of the internet ether every day, cropping up on Twitter feeds and Instagram bios with alarming frequency. Because of this, you might find that you don’t know what a lot of people on the internet are talking about most of the time. (Like, why do all these random people you knew in elementary school now have “MUA” in their Instgram handle?? What does it mean???) Anyway, not knowing certain acronyms doesn’t mean you’re old or suddenly terrible with the internet, like your grandma who thinks that “LOL” actually stands form “lots of love”–it just means that you missed out on learning one particular definition. So, check out these acronyms that a lot of people get wrong. Who knows? You might be wrong about them, too:

1. MUA:



What you think it means: A chef’s kiss (pronounced like “MWAH”), a misspelling of the French word for “me,” which is “moi” (also pronounced “MWAH”) or, potentially, an acronym for a college you think you’ve heard of, but can’t really be sure.

What it really means: Makeup artist. Which doesn’t really make sense, unless you spell it out MakeUp Artist. Which also doesn’t make sense. i don’t know! Not everything in this world gets to make sense!


2. LAX:


What you think it means: Either that sport where people with overgrown hair throw balls into baskets on a field (uh, it looks like this), or the international airport in Los Angeles that Ms. Miley Ray Cyrus has once been to.

What it really means: Well, here’s the tough part–it’s both. I know! What’s important to consider here is context.A good rule of thumb is that if it’s on a sticker on the back of someone’s car, it’s probably the sport. If it’s on a boarding pass, or mentioned in an iconic Miley Cyrus song, it’s probably the airport.




What you think it means: It could be anything, honestly. “If Cher’s Youth Migrates, I am????” “I cannot yell my indiscretions???” Who knows!

What it really means: “In case you missed it.” People use it to bump things that they posted once before and would like to get more likes on. And, uh, that’s it.


4. SO:


What you think it means: Someone yelling the adverb “so” very loudly to make a point. Such as, “They didn’t have any mayonnaise SO I told them that if they wanted to make ME a sandwich, they could just forget it. (Also, someone on Reddit says that they thought it stood for “sexy otter.” Which would be nice!

What it really means: Significant other. As in, like, someone you’re dating. Which could very well be a sexy otter!


5. NSFW:


What you think it means: If you are anything like me, this is not an acronym to you so much as it is a singular word that you pronounce, for whatever reason, as “nisifew.” Its meaning is beside the point.

What it really means: “Not safe for work.” Like, for example, watching porn or an intense skydiving video in the middle of an office building. That is not safe for work at all!




What you think it means: An intensive medical procedure, a new Apple product, or a terrifying sex act, probably.

What it really means:I am not a lawyer.” Good to know!


7. TL;DR


What you think it means: Uh, that’s a lot of letters. Who has time to figure that out?

What it really means: Actually, “too many letters” is kind of the point of this one–TL;DR means “too long, didn’t read.”


8. SJW:


What you think it means: An incantation that people with eggs in their Twitter avatar say to calm themselves..

What it really means: Actually, it’s pretty much that! “SJW” stands for “social justice warrior.” Generally, it’s lobbed against anyone who identifies left on the political spectrum and fights for the rights of marginalized people–the idea, I guess, is that being a person who believes in charity and treating people well makes you a bad person? Chances are, if someone calls you this, it means you’re doing something right.




What you think it means: One standalone word for that thing when people put on wetsuits and strap on oxygen tanks and go super deep underwater and maybe get the bends.

What it really means: Scuba (or, rather, “SCUBA”) is an acronym! It stands for “self-contained breathing apparatus.”

So, you’re not wrong on the meaning–it is more or less that thing when people put on wetsuits and strap on oxygen tanks and go super deep underwater and maybe get the bends–but you probably didn’t know what it actually stood for. (Until now.)


10. GLHF:


What you think it means: A misspelling of “golf,” probably.

What it really means: “Good luck, have fun.” I don’t think anyone actually uses this, but, uh, it’s good to know all the same, I suppose. (Or, I guess I should say–“GLHF” with this acronym.)


11. TIL:


What you think it means: An abbreviation of “until,” maybe?

What it really means:Today I learned.” Which, you know–you maybe learned today?


12. SMDH:


What you think it means: Well, I don’t know what you think it means. But, according to someone on Reddit, it’s not a good acronym to throw around willy-nilly! Says Reddit user “rawdognbust,” (k), “I used SMDH (Shaking my damn head) with a girl I was taking to. Well, she thought it meant ‘Suck My Dick Hoe’.”

What it really means: “Shaking my damn head.” But both interpretations fit the mold, technically, so that girl wasn’t wrong!


13. LOL:


What you think it means: Well, you know that it means “laughing out loud.” But to all the moms and grandmas out there? That’s “lot’s of love,” baby.


What it really means: It’s sweet. Just let them have this.


Were you surprised by any of these acronyms? Which ones? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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  • eddy_vogel

    good luck….:D

  • I would NEVER use LOL to mean Lots of Love…. That’s just ludicrous! Personally, the correct term for LOL is Laughing Out Loud!