Before the Auction: Understanding Lingo

First Published:
Date Published: 2000
Copyright © 2000 by Kevin Savetz

Sometimes while browsing the auction sites, chatting in the chat rooms, and hamming it up in the message boards, you'll see one of those messages that leaves you scratching your head:

"Rehi! I was AFK because my SO's PC went FUBAR. JASE! ;-) IMHO, she needs a new one. LOL. CUL8R."

Is it code? Is it even English? What does it mean?

Talking the Talk

The sentence above is simply inflicted with an overabundance of abbreviations, acronyms, and emoticons: shorthand that makes communication through typing faster, occasionally less understandable, and often disgustingly cute.

CUL8R, for example, stands for "see you later," and "rehi" means "hello again." (Get it?) LOL is a more common one, which stands for "laugh out loud." Variants of LOL include ROFL ("rolling on the floor laughing") and LMHO ("laugh my head off").

Then there are emoticons, little graphics that show emotions but look like absolute gibberish until you know the secret of tilting your head to the left. Often seen in message boards and chat rooms (and emails), there's the sad face :-( and the ever-popular wink ;-) and hundreds of other variations. Lastly, if you ever see your name squashed between parenthesis ((like this)) it's not that the writer wants your head in a vice; it's just a little electronic hug.

Stands For...

So are you ready to dive in? Here are some more abbreviations that are good to know:

Friendly Folks

There are countless online forums, message boards, and chat areas on the Internet. Each one has its own sense of community and its own local lingo. A TLA (three-letter acronym) that you see frequently in an AOL chat room might be unknown to many of the participants in eBay's Cafe message board or Vendio's Message Center. These online communities are all friendly, so if someone says something that's foreign to you, just ask. You can be sure someone will help you decrypt that "Netspeak."

For more on this subject, check out the Chatter's Jargon Dictionary, a fun little Web page with more explanations of chat jargon and emoticons. And if you'd like to sample some more auction-specific lingo, visit AW's online auction glossary.

TTYL! (Talk to you later!)

Articles by Kevin Savetz