160+ Text Message Abbreviations and Symbols Decoded

From the abbreviation your best friend sends you to the weird symbol your phone is showing, this handy guide will help reveal what different things mean.

Updated January 3, 2024
young woman with cell phone

When you're typing with your thumbs, you need to save your effort by communicating with as few letters as possible, right? Abbreviations and text message symbols work like a sort of shorthand to make texting easier and faster (plus they're just fun).

Most symbols make sense and have become a normal mainstay in texting, but it's still handy to have a guide to what they mean.

List of Common Text Message Abbreviations & Meanings 

Texting has really changed the way we communicate. It's immediate, and you don't want to waste a ton of effort spelling everything out. Some text message symbols abbreviate words by leaving out vowels or replacing several letters with a single letter that has the same sound. Others are acronyms, replacing an entire sentence with the first letter of each word.

This list includes some of the most commonly used abbreviations and acronyms so you can get your point across super efficiently. Most often on text today people will use lowercase letters, but some phrases still get the capital-letter treatment. Some abbreviations are also more commonly seen through online chat or forums rather than text messages. 

Message Abbreviation 
Alright alr 
Ask me anything AMA 
Anyone any1 
Are r
Are you okay?  r u ok?
At @
At the moment  atm
Ate 8
Be b
Be right back brb
Because bc or bcoz
Before b4
Best friends forever BFF
Boyfriend BF or bf
By the way btw
Cutie qt
Direct Message DM or dm
Do it yourself DIY
For 4
Forever 4ever or 4eva
For the win  ftw 
For your information  fiy 
Friend of a friend FOAF or foaf
Girlfriend GF or gf
Good luck gl 
Good game GG or gg
Got to go gtg or g2g
Great gr8
Happy birthday hbd
How about you? hbu
Hugs and kisses XO or xo
I don't care idc
I don't know idc
I guess  ig
I love you  ily 
I miss you  imu or imy
I see ic
If you know you know  iykyk
In my opinion IMO
In real life  IRL or irl
Just in case  jic
Just kidding jk
Just so you know  jsyk
Later L8R or l8r
Laughing out loud lol
Let me know  lmk
Love luv ( referring to a person ) 
Never mind  nvm 
No big deal nbd 
No problem np
Not for sale  nfs
Not going to lie  ngl
Not safe for work  NSFW or nsfw
Obviously  obv
Oh my God OMG or om 
On my way  onw
Or best offer  obo
People ppl
Please plz or pls
Point of view POV
Quote of the day QOTD
Real quick  rq
Right now  rn
Rolling on the floor with laughter  rofl
See you later c u l8r
Shaking my head  smh
Sorry sry or srry
Talk to you later  ttyl 
Thank you ty
Thanks thx
Thinking about you thinking ab u
To be determined TBD or  tbd
To be honest  tbh
Too long, didn't read  TL; DR
Today 2day 
Tonight 2nite
Wait  w8
Way to go wtg
What are you doing?  wyd
What's good?  wsg
What's up? wsp
Where are you at?  wya
Without w/o or wo
You only live once YOLO
You u
Your or You're ur
Quick Tip

When you're sending a texting symbol, it's definitely worth keeping your audience in mind. You need the person reading it to understand what you're talking about, and they may or may not know the meaning behind abbreviations for texting. Basically, if you text your grandma to tell her you "8" instead of "ate," she is going to be totally (and probably hilariously) confused.

Less Commonly Used Abbreviations or Acronyms

There are also some older text or online message symbols that aren't as commonly used, including the following. 

Message Abbreviation
And & or +                                    
At any rate AAR
Back in five BI5
Belly laughing BL
Better you than me BYTM
Bored to death B2D
Cancelled CX
Don't mention it DMI
End of text ETX
Hi again REHI
Face to face F2F
Kiss for you K4U or KFY
Keep it real KIR
Must be nice MBN
Moving right along  MRA
Oh no I didn't ONID
One to one 121
Over and out OAO
Quit Laughing QL
Read and find out ROFO
Reason to be single RTBS
Same to you S2U

Common Text Message Emoticon Symbols

Emoticons are pictures or faces made from characters on a phone's keypad. They've mostly been replaced with emojis these days, but you can give your messages a retro cute look by including them. You may choose to send emoticons to express your mood or add some humor or personality to a message rather than typing out an entire message or sending an emoji.

teens texting
Need to Know

Emoticons actually predate texting and are from the early days of the internet. Think of them as the grandparents of today's emoji. Using them is a cute nod to the past, though.

Meaning Emoticon
Angel 0:-)
Angry >:-(
Baby ~:o
Braces :-#
Cat =^.^=
Confused :-/ or %-( or :-S
Crying :'-( or : ,-(
Dork 8-B
Drool :-)...
Elvis Presley 5:-)
Evil >-)
Glasses 8-)
Greedy $_$
Happy :-) or :)
Happy Tears :')
Heart <3
Hugs (((H)))
Intoxicated %-}
King \VVV/
Kiss :-*
Laughing :-D
Liar :-----)
Lips are sealed :-x
Pig :@
Pirate P-(
Punk -:-)
Queen \%%%/
Robot <(-_-)>
Rolling your eyes @@
Rose @-}---
Runny Nose :-~)
Sad :-( or :(
Santa Claus *<|:o)>
Shifty :-\
Shock :-()
Smoking :-Q
Snake ~~~~8}
Sticking tongue out :-p or :p
Sunglasses B-)
Surprised :-o
Tongue-tied :-&
Uncle Sam =I:-)=
Wink ;-) or ;)
Yawn |-O
Yelling :-@
Quick Tip

There are a couple of non-emoji emoticons some people like to regularly use. XO means a surprised face, and XD stands for an excited emoticon or a big smiley face. 

Text Message Symbols Your Phone Gives You

Not all texting symbols are things you send to someone. Sometimes, your phone uses a symbol to tell you what's going on with your text. The symbols depend on the the kind of phone you have.

Android Texting Symbols

When you send a text with an Android phone, you may see these symbols:

  • Single check mark - Your text was sent.
  • Double check mark - Your text was received by the person you're texting.
  • Colored double check mark - The person you're texting read your message.
  • Clock with timer - Your text is still sending.

iPhone Texting Symbols

If you have an iPhone, you might see symbols like these when you're texting:

  • ... - The other person is typing back.
  • Red exclamation point in a circle - Your message did not send.
  • Heart - The other person loves your message.
  • Thumbs up - The other person likes your message.
  • Thumbs down - The other person does not like your message.

Save Time With Text Abbreviations

With these symbols and abbreviations for texting, not only will you save time, but you will also be able to send longer texts that contain more personality and emotion. Plus, it's just good to know the symbols so you can understand the texts you receive or the abbreviations in comments or DMs on Instagram and other sites. It's all about good communication too, so if you aren't sure what something means, there's no shame in asking.

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160+ Text Message Abbreviations and Symbols Decoded