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TL;DR: Did you know that FTW actually means For The Win and not F**k The World? Or that Bae is, arguably, an acronym for Before Anyone Else? The digital world is full of this sort of text, and not releasing what something means can lead to awkward situations. To illustrate just how confusing it can be, someone has put together a list of the most Googled text abbreviations globally that might make you LOL in despair.
The report was put together by UK phone-case seller Case24.com/uk (via PCMag). It used analytical tool Ahrefs to compile a list of the top 35 most-Googled acronyms and abbreviations across the world as of October 2021.
Sitting in the top position with almost one million searches is SMH. That’s not too surprising as many people argue over whether this means So Much Hate or Shaking/Shake My Head. SMH does actually mean Shake/Shaking My Head, a term that goes back to 2014. More than one person thought it meant Shut My Hole, which was hopefully an expression of surprise that referred to their mouth and not a different orifice.
It’s surprising to see LMAO and LOL in second and fourth place, respectively. The acronym for Laugh Out Loud can be traced back to the 1980s and was used extensively during the nineties when mobile phones, many of which had data plans with a set number of texts, started to explode in popularity. It even entered the Oxford English dictionary in 2011. Interestingly, LOL was first used as an initialism in the 1960s for Little Old Lady—LMAO!
GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) is another term that’s become very common in recent years, while it feels like AFK (Away From Keyboard) and BRB (Be Right Back) have been around for decades. This writer remembers using both in internet chat rooms of the 1990s. It’s also unusual to see words not associated with online activities, like DIY and AKA, make the list.
Personally, the only entries on the list I didn’t know were OOTD (Outfit Of The Day) and NGL (Not Gonna Lie), which may be a reflection of my age.
With an ever-increasing amount of the world’s population spending more time online, communication apps becoming the primary way of communicating, and more people working remotely, expect this list to look quite different ten years from now. New acronyms are finding their way into everyday use all the time, so the next LOL could be just around the corner, IMO.