CyberSpeak 101: Mastering Internet Slang Words as an English Learner

Grover LaughtonRevisado porSana Liashuk / más sobre Proceso editorial7 min
Creado: Jun 23, 2023Última actualización: Mar 12, 2024
Internet Slang Words

English is no longer confined to the traditional grammar rules found in textbooks. It has evolved and expanded to include a colorful array of internet slang. Sprinkled across social media and online conversations, these internet words can often feel like a whole new language. For English learners, understanding these expressions can bridge the gap between formal textbook lingo and the dynamic, everyday language of the digital world.

Categories of the Internet English Slang

The fascinating world of internet slang can be divided into several distinct categories. Each type is unique, reflecting online communication’s diverse and evolving nature:

  1. Abbreviations and acronyms. Arguably the most popular category, abbreviations and acronyms are the shortened form of phrases or sentences. Examples include “lol” (laugh out loud), “brb” (be right back), “idk” (I don’t know), and “smh” (shaking my head). They are primarily used for efficiency, allowing individuals to communicate more quickly.
  2. Altered meanings. These are common words that have been given a new meaning in the context of the internet. “Savage,” for example, has transformed from describing something fierce to denoting something extremely good or brutally honest.
  3. Compound words. Here, two or more words are merged to create a new term with a unique meaning. “Facepalm” (face + palm) is a reaction to frustration or disbelief, representing slapping your forehead with your hand.
  4. Memes and trendy phrases. Certain expressions become popular due to viral trends or memes. While they may have a short lifespan, they can quickly spread like wildfire, such as “on fleek” or “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out).
  5. Emojis. Although not words, emojis are a crucial part of internet communication. These small digital images or icons represent ideas, emotions, or objects. A single emoji, like a heart or a thumbs-up, can convey a message without using words.

These categories are just a glimpse into the vast array of internet slang words netizens use. Mastering these expressions will enable English learners to understand online conversations better and engage with native speakers more naturally.

Abbreviations and Acronyms in Internet Slang

Let’s start our journey by exploring abbreviations and acronyms, some of the best in internet slang for brevity and speed. Here’s a list of some commonly used ones:

  • LOL: laugh out loud. Used to express laughter or amusement.
  • BRB: be right back. Indicates that the user will return shortly.
  • IDK: I don’t know. A quick response to indicate uncertainty.
  • SMH: shaking my head. Expresses disbelief or disappointment.
  • TMI: too much information. Used when someone shares excessively personal or detailed information.
  • IMO/IMHO: in my (humble) opinion. Used to introduce a personal viewpoint or suggestion.
  • BTW: by the way. Used to introduce a new topic, add information, or make a side comment.
  • OMG: oh my God. Expresses surprise, disbelief, or excitement.
  • FYI: for your information. Used to provide helpful information or denote that the following content is informational.
  • ROFL: rolling on the floor laughing. Used to express intense laughter, often more exaggerated than LOL.

These expressions are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s common to encounter new words constantly, as the language evolves rapidly, influenced by various current events, pop culture, and even memes. 


Internet Slang Words with Altered Meanings

Another intriguing facet of internet slang is the transformation of ordinary words. As the culture evolves, it gives new, unique meanings to conventional terms. These altered definitions often reflect humor, creativity, and online community trends. Let’s delve into the internet slang list:

  • Ghost. This term refers to abruptly cutting off all communication with someone without any explanation.
  • Salty. This word describes someone who is upset, angry, or bitter, often disproportionately.
  • Savage. It describes something extremely good or brutally honest, often used to compliment a sharp, witty remark.
  • Lit. Originally used to describe something being on fire or brightly lit, it now denotes something exciting, excellent, or fun in internet jargon.
  • Shade. This word is used to describe subtly disrespecting or ridiculing someone.
  • Tea. Internet slang uses ‘tea’ to denote gossip or exciting news. If someone is ‘spilling the tea,’ they’re dishing out some juicy or scandalous information.
  • Troll. Originally a mythical creature in folklore, ‘troll’ refers to someone who deliberately posts provocative or offensive messages online to upset or provoke others.
  • Flex. In internet slang, ‘flex’ means to show off one’s status, wealth, or accomplishments.
  • Stan. Derived from the Eminem song of the same name, ‘stan’ now means to be an overly obsessed fan of someone.
  • Woke. This term describes someone alert to social and political injustices.

Grasping these transformations enriches your understanding of internet slang. It helps you stay updated with language trends and, more importantly, allows you to engage more authentically in online dialogues.

Internet Expressions Originating from Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms are hotbeds for the creation and spread of slang. Users worldwide interact in these virtual spaces, contributing to the evolution of a unique digital dialect. Here, we’ll look at some widely-used computer slang:

  • Subtweet. Originating from Twitter, this term refers to a tweet that indirectly mentions another user without directly tagging them, often used to criticize or mock them discreetly.
  • Finsta. A blend of “fake” and “Instagram,” this term refers to a secondary, usually private, Instagram account kept separate from a user’s main account.
  • VSCO girl. This term emerged from the VSCO photo-editing app and TikTok. It describes a lifestyle trend characterized by specific fashion choices, like oversized T-shirts, scrunchies, and a commitment to environmental causes.
  • Tweetstorm. Another term on Twitter, ‘tweetstorm,’ refers to a series of related tweets posted by a user quickly.
  • Facebook official (FBO). This phrase refers to confirming a romantic relationship by updating one’s relationship status on Facebook.
  • Slide into DMs. This slang phrase, popular on Instagram and Twitter, refers to sending a direct message to someone in a flirtatious manner.
  • Dank memes. Originating from Reddit and other meme-sharing platforms, ‘dank’ is an adjective that describes particularly funny or high-quality memes.

Recognizing and understanding these terms can significantly enhance your comprehension of conversations on social media platforms. They also serve as a tool for expressing yourself more naturally and authentically in online interactions.

The Unique Lexicon of Online Gaming

In the adrenaline-fueled gaming world, a distinctive set of slang has emerged, facilitating efficient communication between players. The jargon encompasses tactics, character roles, and commonly experienced gaming scenarios. Let’s delve into some of these gaming-specific terms:

  • GG: good game. A polite remark often made at the end of a competitive game.
  • Noob. A newcomer or inexperienced player. It’s often used to point out mistakes or poor play.
  • Pwned. An alternative to “owned,” suggesting a player was heavily defeated or outplayed.
  • AFK: away from the keyboard. Used to indicate that a gamer is temporarily not playing.
  • Rage quit. When a player gets so frustrated that they abruptly leave the game.
  • NPC: non-player character. Refers to a character controlled by the game itself, not a player.
  • Grinding. Performing repetitive tasks in a game to achieve a goal or level up.
  • Buff/nerf. Terms that describe the strengthening (buffing) or weakening (nerfing) of a game character’s abilities or features.
  • Camper. A player who stays in one spot in the game, typically to ambush other players.
  • Loot. The collection of rewards, items, or virtual goods that players earn or discover within the game.

Understanding these terms is vital to fully enjoying the gaming experience and communicating effectively with other players. It also offers insights into the strategies, behaviors, and norms prevalent in the dynamic world of online gaming.

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At Promova, we go beyond just offering classes and resources. Our blog provides a wealth of information on various topics related to language learning. From articles about the latest Gen Z vocabulary to online games that can help you practice your English, our blog is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their language skills.


Unraveling the multifaceted world of English internet slang, we’ve uncovered a living dimension of language that evolves, adapts, and pulses with the rhythm of our online interactions. For English learners, grasping this digital dialect can deepen our linguistic knowledge and connect us more profoundly to the ever-evolving discourse on the internet.


Why is it important for English learners to understand internet slang?

Internet slang forms a significant part of daily online communication. Understanding it enhances learners’ comprehension of digital content and enables more effective and engaging online interactions.

Is internet slang exclusive to English?

No, it exists in many languages. However, given the dominance of English on the internet, slang often spreads widely and can be found in digital content across different languages.

Can the use of internet slang affect my professional image?

Yes, its excessive use in professional communications may not be well-received. Standard English in professional contexts is generally safer unless slang is common in your industry or workplace.

How can I learn more about internet slang words and their meanings?

There are various resources for learning internet slang. Online dictionaries like Urban Dictionary and NetLingo provide up-to-date definitions and examples, keeping pace with the ever-evolving usage of slang in digital communication.


PromovaAug 17th, 2023
Excellent question! The influence of internet slang on communication is profound. It has introduced a dynamic layer of expression, allowing users to convey emotions, sarcasm, and cultural references more effectively. Internet slang often helps build a sense of community among online users who share common interests and understand these linguistic shortcuts. This phenomenon has reshaped the way we communicate, emphasizing brevity and visual elements in addition to traditional written language.
Chad AldridgeAug 17th, 2023
How does internet slang influence communication?