Internet slang - what is it?

Language is a phenomenon that reflects various social and cultural changes and it progresses and adapts naturally over time. That is why it is no surprise that with the development of the Internet, our language is enriched with numerous newly coined words, phrases and abbreviations. Such words and phrases tend to spread very quickly and are used by many speakers. The users draw inspiration for the creation of new words from different sources, predominantly from pop culture. The development of the Internet has led to a rapid exchange of new words – a process that took years or even decades to occur in the past. The use can sometimes become so frequent that they even enter dictionaries.

Languages of the Internet

As you might have already assumed, English is the language that still takes the crown when it comes to prominence and impact regarding slang. Many Internet users from non-English speaking areas often adopt English phrases (which are sometimes non-translatable) and use them naturally in discourse. However, every language has its own set of slang words that native speakers invent on a daily basis. On the other hand, sometimes they translate English phrases into their native language. For example, LOL has its French counterpart MDR (mort de rire), meaning “dying of laughter”. Another interesting example comes from the Thai language, where the digit 5 denotes the letter “h”. Therefore, 555 means “hahaha”.

The Internet is a source of many new words or ordinary words that have been attributed with new meanings.

The shortest instances of Internet slang are abbreviations and acronyms. They both shorten the words and phrases and enable a quicker exchange of opinions, thoughts and ideas.

Internet slang - abbreviations

BTW – by the way

cya – see you

TBH – to be honest

fam – family

deets – details

sus – suspicious

Internet slang can also be the source of new words and phrases. They often stem from viral tweets, memes, famous TikToks, pop-culture references and other trends that spread instantly on the Internet. Some of them are well known, while others have gone through specific stylistic, semantic or spelling adjustments.

New words and phrases

periodt – used to denote “end of conversation” after delivering certain facts

finna – an adapted version of “gonna” or “going to”

rizz – denoting a skill of attracting a potential partner; the word originates from “charisma”

bop – used when describing a really good song

slap (v.) – when something slaps, it is amazing and you can’t get enough of it

slay – to achieve outstanding success and make a powerful impression

pressed – the state of being very angry, sad or upset

cringe – the uncomfortable feeling triggered by awkward or embarrassing situations or content

yassify – to make something substantially better, more glamorous

the ick – used as an expression of disgust for someone or something

nepo baby – someone who attains success in the entertainment industry mainly because of their family connections, often associated with nepotism

bombastic side eye – a judgmental, disapproving look

menty b – short for “mental breakdown“

It’s giving (sth.) – another way to point out the general vibe of something

hits different – used to denote that something is better than the usual

live rent-free – to live rent-free in one’s mind means that they can’t get something out of their mind

low-key – to keep something discreet, low-profile, or understated without drawing much attention or making it widely known

Read more about it here.

It's not all about word-play

Internet slang is not all just about the textual format. Internet users often use a number of emojis and symbols that successfully replace certain words and convey their intended message. Ever since the emergence of social media, the visual aspect of communication has become more and more important. Various types of social media enable their users to create visual (as well as video and audio) content and memes, which later become widely known and used.

Internet slang is a regular part of our everyday lives. Hearing certain words and phrases online can often be entertaining, humorous and fun. Most of them are temporary trends in language and just like any other trend in fashion, music or technology – they come and go. However, some of them become so deeply embedded in our language that they become a part of dictionaries.

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