Acronyms and abbreviations can be confusing. Social media shorthand is extensive. Businessmen use acronyms and abbreviations for marketing terms but also for chatting with their peers. There are also initialisms! So what are they?

Acronyms, initialisms  & abbreviations

Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations, but not all abbreviations are acronyms or initialisms. Here is a video that explains all these terms clearly.

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An acronym is a special kind of abbreviation that uses the first letter of each word that it represents to form an all-letters-capitalised abbreviation. A true acronym can be pronounced as a word such as NASA, UNICEF and ASAP.

An initialism is like an acronym, but it cannot be pronounced as a word. You would have to pronounce each and every letter such as WHO, USA and DIY.

Abbreviations are words that have been shortened to form shorter words. They usually have a few letters of a single word removed; the remaining letters are combined and replace that longer word such as « etc. » (ETCetera) and « tbsp. » (TaBleSPoon). We use them in writing but say the whole word when we speak.

You may find them boring, but a translator is obliged to keep up with the various linguistic trends by learning new words and abbreviations constantly and using them in the right context, that is, by keeping the reader in mind. The learning process is never over for a translator, but that is also what makes my work varied and interesting. For more information, visit my Translation-Interpreting page.

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Abbreviations and Acronyms you should know.

In order to be in the know, I have collected a few of them which I am sharing with you below. You may be pleased to find some familiar and funny ones!

I believe that we all know what LOL means.

However, did you know that the French have their equivalent as in MDR (mort de rire = to kill oneself laughing)?

Let me start alphabetically.

Alphabetical order of Abbreviations

ADSL = Asymetric Digital Subscriber Line

Did you know what your ADSL internet line meant? Yes, we in the countryside still painfully use ADSL and are looking forward to fibre which, according to my Mayor, said that those located in the countryside will finally get it by next year. Can’t wait!!

telephone and internet via ADSL

AFAWK = As Far As We Know

AIDS = Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

In French, SIDA = Syndrome d’Immunodéficience Acquise

b/c, bc = Because

B2B = Business-to-Business (Companies that focus on selling goods and services to other companies).

B2C = Business-to-Consumer (Companies that focus on selling to consumers. A clothing retailer, for instance, would be a B2C company).


B4 = Before

BAE = Before Anyone Else (Used as a term of endearment for someone you care about).

BFF = Best Friends Forever

BRB = Be Right Back

BTW = By The Way

CAPTCHA = Completely Automated Public Turing test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart. It is also used in French.

CC – Carbon copy

On social media, CC has the same usage as the CC on your emails. Carbon copy actually came from the 1870s. It relates to making a copy of documents (hand-written or typed) through the use of inserting carbon paper (or tissue) between the document one was composing and a blank sheet of paper.

CSS = Cascading stylesheet

This code language gives websites their look. The layout, colours, fonts, borders, spacing, and all other visual elements of a website occur because of the styles declared in CSS.

DM = Direct Message

DnD = Drag and Drop (Also adopted by the French).

F2F = Face to face

FB = Facebook

FBF = Flashback Friday (popular on social media where you share an old picture or status as a memory. Similar to Throwback Thursday)

FAQ = frequently asked questions (In French, Foire Aux Questions = FAQ [fak]

FYI = For your information


FOMO = Fear of Missing Out

FOMO describes a type of social anxiety where you feel that if you miss an opportunity you might miss out on something great. FOMO comes into play quite often with social media where some people are compelled to stay connected so they never miss a big moment.

I thought that this picture speaks volumes!

people looking at their mobile phones FOMO

GDP = Gross Domestic Product. In French : Produit Intérieur Brut = P.I.B. [péibé]

GMO = Genetially Modified Organism. In French : Organisme Génétiquement Modifié = O.G.M. [oZéèm]

Gr8 = Great

HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language

HTML is the coding language used for building webpages and any other information that one views on the web. It is the foundation and the frame of every website. CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) adds colour and layout to the page.

ILY means I love you

ILY = I Love You

Knowing this could be useful to you. A just in case someone sends this to you, you would know how to reply !


IMF = International Monetary Fund

In French, Fonds Monétaire International = F.M.I. [èfèmi]


International Monetary Fund

IMHO = In my humble opinion

ISBN = International Standard Book Number

L8 – Late

LMAO – Laughing my a** off

LMK = Let me know

LOL = Laughing out loud

LOLz = Laughing out loud (plural/sarcastic) Lolz is the plural of LOL, but instead of having an “s,” people write it with a “z”. Some say that LOLz means you’re laughing out loud sarcastically.

MTFBWY – May The Force Be With You A reference to the Star Wars movies, this abbreviation is used when someone is sending words of encouragement or motivation to another user.

NATO = North Atlantic Treaty

In French, Organization du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord = OTAN [òtâ]

NATO logo

NM = Not Much

NVM = Never Mind

OMG = Oh my God

OMW = On my way

ORLY = Oh really?! (nothing to do with the airport near Paris! Like LOLz, this abbreviation can be used sarcastically as well as seriously.

P2P = Person to person, or peer to peer

Similar to F2F, this abbreviation can refer to an in-person meeting, as opposed to an online get together. Also, P2P can come up in a business arena as a way of distinguishing a type of network, tool, meeting, or event.

PPL = People

tombstones RIP

RIP = Rest In Peace.

In Latin: Requiescat In Pace

In French: Rester en Paix

SEO = Search engine optimisation. SEO refers to the practice of optimizing a website so that it ranks highly in search engine result pages. Some key elements of SEO are content, keywords, headlines, meta information, backlinks, and site structure/speed.

SERP = Search Engine Results Page. This is the page you see when you perform a search.

SM = Social Media

SMB = Small Business

SMM = Social Media Marketing

SMO = Social Media Optimisation. Often used synonymously, these two terms refer to the process of getting the most out of social media for your business or brand.

SSHF = Société Sherlock Holmes de France (the French Sherlock Holmes Company= in France!)

SWAG = Secretly We Are Gay

TGIF = Thanks God It’s Friday

TL;DR = Too Long; Didn’t Read This abbreviation may appear in a comment, post, or tweet, where the user is mentioning they weren’t able to completely read an article because of its length. Also, some articles or notes may include this abbreviation in lieu of a summary heading.

TMI = Too much information

TYSM = Thank you so much. (The French use this).

XOXOXO = Kisses and Hugs

Yuppie = Young Urban Professional or Young Upwardly-mobile Professional

In French, a Yuppie is a Bobo. It comesfrom « bourgeois bohème » but is frequently associated with the young elite, often cultured and well learned, who leads an urban lifestyle.

In Conclusion

We must not be too liberal with abbreviations when we speak and write. We must use them sparingly.

I would like to share with you my translation of what the Académie Française, the watchdog of the French language, has to say about the usage of abbreviations and acronyms. :

Academie Francaise building

Abbreviations and acronyms save time and space because they are shorter than the forms they abbreviate. Remember that an acronym is an abbreviation that is pronounced like an ordinary word (UN, CAPES, UNESCO). You can therefore use it legitimately, but in this case, as in many others, it is good to moderate its usage as its abuse could be dangerous.

Above all, before using them, you should ask yourself if the people you are talking to are aware of their meanings, knowing that the same abbreviation or acronym can have several meanings. The very valuable “Dictionnaire des Sigles” (Dictionary of Acronyms) teaches us that the acronym UNI can designate both the National Inter-university Union and the International Naturist Union, but also the National Union of Independents (in Burkina-Faso), the National Union for Independence (in Djibouti) or the Union of Indigenous Nations (in Brazil).

For reasons of clarity, it is therefore preferable to first mention what the abbreviation or the acronym that you are using stands for. We must also remember that we speak and write to be heard, read and understood; and that these abbreviated forms sometimes act as screens by veiling the meanings of the sentences.