The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

FYI, OMG enters Oxford English Dictionary. LOL.

March 25, 2011 |  5:44 pm

Getprev It's official: OMG and LOL are no longer just time-saving shorthands. They're real English.

In a decision that may drive English teachers across the nation to despair, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the venerable last word on proper language, has embraced the tech world and added several abbreviations — or "initialisms" — to its new online edition.

Those include OMG (Oh my god), LOL (laughing out loud), TMI (too much information), FYI (for your information) and BFF (best friends forever).

The OED explained the decision extensively in an online statement and pointed out many of these "noteworthy initialisms...are strongly associated with the language of electronic communications."

The OED explains that shorthands such as LOL and OMG have gone beyond just saving space and acquired nuanced meanings of their own, with "a bit more than simple abbreviation going on."

"The intention is usually to signal an informal, gossipy mode of expression, and perhaps parody the level of unreflexive enthusiasm or overstatement that can sometimes appear in online discourse, while at the same time marking oneself as an 'insider' au fait with the forms of expression associated with the latest technology," the OED said.

But some abbreviations have been around for longer than expected. Researchers at OED discovered that OMG appeared in a personal letter from 1917 (with the same meaning as now), and the letters LOL had a "previous life" in the 1960s, when they signified little old lady.


Facebook launches question-and-answer feature

Google, Yahoo, Skype targeted in possible 'state-driven' hack from Iran

Twitter came to life five years ago this week; creator Jack Dorsey remembers

— Shan Li