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Handy Guide for When You “Can’t Even” Tell What Your Kids Are Texting

posted: 06/10/15
by: Courtney Reimer
Group Of Teenagers Sharing Text Message On Mobile Phones
iStock

TBH (to be honest), we often don't know WTF (what the F-word) kids these days are saying when they're texting, tweeting, Instagramming and snapchatting. We can't even tell you how many times we've squinted at a string of letters and emojis trying to decipher a comment on a Beyonce post, and can only imagine what it's like for parents of teenagers.

But now that the phone call is going the way of the pager, learning the abbreviations, acronyms and slang favored by the younger generations is essential if we have any hope of communicating with them.

Here, for your edification, is a handy guide to the various popular shorthands and slang you'll come across while texting with youth and the youthful. Note that due to the quick pace of most texting and social media, acronyms are generally presented in the lower case.

On fleek: On point. Positive. According to KnowYourMeme.com, the phrase first came to popularity when a Viner (Vine being the short video social network) posted a clip of herself complimenting herself, saying her "Eyebrows on fleek."

dgaf: "Don't Give a F-word." Negative. See also "AF."

af
: "As F-word." Tone varies depending on context.

rn
: Right now. Neutral.

Bae
: "Before anything else." Typically used in conjunction with the object of one's affection. There is some dispute, however, as to whether this term first emerged as an acronym or a shortened version of "babe." Positive.


wcw:
"Woman crush Wednesday," referring to the social media tradition of calling out beloved females midweek (a la Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday).

Basic
: mainstream/predictable. Negative.

Turn up/turnt:
getting excited/intoxicated. Varies depending on the meaning.

idk:
"I don't know."

smh
: "Shaking my head" (in disbelief/disgust). Negative. See also "smdh."

smdh: "Shaking my damn head."

pfm
: "Pure f-ing magic." Positive.

til
: "Today I learned." Neutral, depending on context.

tfw
: "That feeling when" as in "that feeling when you get your term paper back and it's a D-". Negative or positive, depending on context.

thot: "That h-- over there." Generally negative.

"mom"/"dad"
: used to show high praise for a person, indicating they'd love for that person to be their parent. Positive.

lmk: This is one that's crept into grown-up use in text and even corporate email, meaning "let me know."

ty: "Thank you."

yw: "You're welcome."

irl: "In real life." Especially popular among people who only know each other on the internet.

While most of the above are generally harmless terms -- and this is by no means a comprehensive list -- there is apparently a whole other dictionary of text acronyms that have a much darker side, meant to allow teens to sext (send sexy text messages) undetected by parents. CNN compiled a pretty comprehensive list here.

Did we miss any big ones? Are there some others out there that are perplexing you on a daily basis? Tweet us at @TLCmeNow or Facebook us your thoughts, questions or concerns about the mad, mad world of kids and digital communication.