16 Old-School Internet Acronyms: How Many Can You Recognize?
How is language evolving on the Internet? In this series on internet linguistics, Gretchen McCulloch breaks down the latest innovations in online communication.
I recently re-read Wired Style, the classic Web usage manual from the late '90s. At the time, it was cutting edge, but it now has a whole lot of words that we don't use anymore. Here are the top 15 of Wired Style's now-outdated acronyms from the early days of the 'Net—how many did you recognize?
No one said early "websters" were always polite. CHA stands for "click here a**hole." And in the '90s, that click might have been on a "hotlink" or "hotspot."
2. AND 3. IOW AND OTOH
"On the other hand," Netiquette was still a pressing issue. "In other words," some people were still remembering to offer their "gigathanks."
People still say IRL, another entry in Wired Style, but we've stopped talking about f2f for "face to face," let alone its synonym, "facemail."
We haven't stopped saying "lovely and talented," but somehow the acronym hasn't stuck around.
Wired Style does also contain an entry for the still-current "landline," but we no longer talk about POTS, short for "plain old telephone service."
If you don't have good "quality of service," you might run into trouble promising "I'll zap you the JPEGs but the message file will be 900K."
Complete with gradually escalating exclamation marks, this acronym stands for "Sets! My teeth!! On edge!!!"
Pronounced "scuzzy," this acronym stands for small computer system interface—the type of port that we used before USB ports.
This ungainly acronym stands for "the end of the world as we know it." In another blast from the past, Wired Style notes that it's "the shorthand of Internet survivalists who believe Y2K spells doomsday."
"Trust me on this," if you want to maintain your membership in the "digerati."
It almost looks like a modern kaomoji, but this pleasingly symmetrical acronym actually stands for "to tell you the truth."
"With all due respect," no one talks about "meatspace" anymore either.
Oddly, Wired Style contains an entry for "what the f*** is going on?" but no entry for plain WTF.
No, it hasn't always stood for Young Adult literature. This acronym used to stand for "yet another": the helpful example sentence that Wired Style provides is "Microsoft released YA browser upgrade."
True, perhaps, "you own your own words" (or YOYW, "you own your words"), but thank goodness we're past the days of "cyber-" everything.
Finally, it's almost as interesting to see which now-common internet acronyms Wired Style doesn't include—LOL and ROTFL are present, neither WTF nor OMG get entries.