LOL: Wikis


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LOL, an abbreviation for laughing out loud[1][2] or laugh out loud,[3] is a common element of Internet slang. It was used historically on Usenet but is now widespread in other forms of computer-mediated communication, and even face-to-face communication. It is one of many initialisms for expressing bodily reactions, in particular laughter, as text, including initialisms for more emphatic expressions of laughter such as LMAO[4] ("laughing my arse/ass off"), ROTFL[5][6][7][8] or ROFL [9] ("roll(ing) on the floor laughing"), and BWL ("bursting with laughter"). Other unrelated expansions include the now mostly historical "lots of luck" or "lots of love" used in letter-writing.[10]



Laccetti (professor of humanities at Stevens Institute of Technology) and Molsk, in their essay entitled The Lost Art of Writing,[11][12] are critical of the acronyms, predicting reduced chances of employment for students who use such acronyms, stating that, "Unfortunately for these students, their bosses will not be 'lol' when they read a report that lacks proper punctuation and grammar, has numerous misspellings, various made-up words, and silly acronyms." Fondiller and Nerone[13] in their style manual assert that "professional or business communication should never be careless or poorly constructed" whether one is writing an electronic mail message or an article for publication, and warn against the use of smileys and these abbreviations, stating that they are "no more than e-mail slang and have no place in business communication".

Yunker and Barry[14] in a study of online courses and how they can be improved through podcasting have found that these acronyms, and emoticons as well, are "often misunderstood" by students and are "difficult to decipher" unless their meanings are explained in advance. They single out the example of "ROFL" as not obviously being the abbreviation of "rolling on the floor laughing" (emphasis added). Haig[1] singles out LOL as one of the three most popular initialisms in Internet slang, alongside BFN ("bye for now") and IMHO ("in my humble opinion"). He describes these acronyms, and the various initialisms of Internet slang in general, as convenient, but warns that "as ever more obscure acronyms emerge they can also be rather confusing". Bidgoli[15] likewise states that these initialisms "save keystrokes for the sender but [...] might make comprehension of the message more difficult for the receiver" and that "[s]lang may hold different meanings and lead to misunderstandings especially in international settings"; he advises that they be used "only when you are sure that the other person knows the meaning".

Shortis[8] observes that ROTFL is a means of "annotating text with stage directions". Hueng,[5] in discussing these acronyms in the context of performative utterances, points out the difference between telling someone that one is laughing out loud and actually laughing out loud: "The latter response is a straightforward action. The former is a self-reflexive representation of an action: I not only do something but also show you that I am doing it. Or indeed, I may not actually laugh out loud but may use the locution 'LOL' to communicate my appreciation of your attempt at humor."

David Crystal notes that use of LOL is not necessarily genuine,[16] just as the use of smiley faces or grins is not necessarily genuine, posing the rhetorical question "How many people are actually 'laughing out loud' when they send LOL?". Franzini[2] concurs, stating that there is as yet no research that has determined the percentage of people who are actually laughing out loud when they write "LOL".

Victoria Clarke, in her analysis of telnet talkers,[17] states that capitalization is important when people write "LOL", and that "a user who types LOL may well be laughing louder than one who types lol", and opines that "these standard expressions of laughter are losing force through overuse". Egan[3] describes LOL, ROTFL, and other initialisms as helpful as long as they are not overused. He recommends against their use in business correspondence because the recipient may not be aware of their meanings, and because in general neither they nor emoticons are (in his view) appropriate in such correspondence. June Hines Moore[18] shares that view. So, too, does Lindsell-Roberts,[19] who gives the same advice of not using them in business correspondence, "or you won't be LOL".

Spread from written to spoken communication

LOL, ROFL, and other initialisms have crossed from computer-mediated communication to face-to-face communication. Teenagers now sometimes use them in spoken communication as well as in written, with ROFL (pronounced /ˈroʊfəl/ or /ˈrɒfəl/) and LOL (pronounced /ˈloʊl/, /ˈlɒl/, or /ˌɛloʊˈɛl/), for example. David Crystal—likening the introduction of LOL, ROFL, and others into spoken language in magnitude to the revolution of Johannes Gutenberg's invention of movable type in the 15th century—states that this is "a brand new variety of language evolving", invented by young people within five years, that "extend[s] the range of the language, the expressiveness [and] the richness of the language". Commentators disagree, saying that these new words, being abbreviations for existing, long-used, phrases, don't "enrich" anything; they just shorten it.[20][21]

Geoffrey K. Pullum points out that even if interjections such as LOL and ROTFL were to become very common in spoken English, their "total effect on language" would be "utterly trivial".[22]

Conversely, a 2003 study of college students by Naomi Baron found that the use of these initialisms in computer-mediated communication (CMC), specifically in instant messaging, was actually lower than she had expected. The students "used few abbreviations, acronyms, and emoticons". The spelling was "reasonably good" and contractions were "not ubiquitous". Out of 2,185 transmissions, there were 90 initialisms in total, only 31 CMC-style abbreviations, and 49 emoticons.[21] Out of the 90 initialisms, 76 were occurrences of LOL.[23]

Variations on the theme

Variants of "LOL"

  • LEL: An abbreviation for both "Laughing Extremely Loud" and "Laughing Eccentrically Loud."
  • lolz: Occasionally used in place of LOL.
  • lulz: Often used to denote laughter at someone who is the victim of a prank, or a reason for performing an action. Can be used as a noun — e.g. "do it for the lulz." This variation is often used on 4chan image boards. According to a New York Times article about Internet trolling, "lulz means the joy of disrupting another's emotional equilibrium."[24]
  • lolwut: lol + wut, used to indicate bemused laughter, or confusion.
  • Lawl or Lal: Pseudo-pronunciation of LOL. Saying "lawl" is sometimes meant in mockery of those who use the term LOL, and usually not meant as serious usage.

Translations in widespread use

Most of these variants are usually found in lowercase.

  • mdr: French version of the expression LOL, from the initials of "mort de rire" that roughly translated means "dying of laughter", although many French people now use LOL in lieu of this as it is the most widely used on the internet.
  • חחח‎/ההה: Hebrew version of LOL. The letter ח is pronounced 'kh' and ה is pronounced 'h'. Putting them together (usually three or more in a row) makes the word khakhakha or hahaha (since vowels in Hebrew are generally not written), which is in many languages regarded as the sound of laughter. The word LOL is sometimes transliterated (לול), but its usage is not very common.[citation needed]
  • 555: The Thai variation of LOL. "5" in Thai is pronounced "ha", three of them being "hahaha".
  • asg: Swedish abbreviation of the term Asgarv, meaning intense laughter.
  • g: Danish abbreviation of the word griner, which means "laughing" in Danish.[25]
  • rs: in Brazil "rs" (being an abbreviation of "risos", the plural of "laugh") is often used in text based communications in situations where in English lol would be used, repeating it ("rsrsrsrsrs") is often done to express longer laughter or laughing harder.[citation needed] Also popular is "kkk" (which can also be repeated indefinitely), due to the pronunciation of the letter k in Portuguese sounding similar to the ca in card, and therefore representing the laugh "cacacacaca" (also similar to the Hebrew version above).[citation needed]
  • mkm: in Afghanistan "mkm" (being an abbreviation of the phrase "ma khanda mikonom"). This is a Dari phrase that means "I am laughing".[citation needed]
  • In Chinese, although 大笑 (da xiao; "big laugh") is used, a more widespread usage is "哈哈哈" (ha ha ha) on internet forums.
  • هاها: The Arabic هـــا makes the sound "ha," and is strung together to create the sound "haha".
  • In some languages with a non-Latin script, the abbreviation "LOL" itself is also often transliterated. See for example Arabic لــول and Russian лол.
  • In Japanese, traditionally the kanji for laugh in parenthesis was used in the same way as lol; (笑). It can be read as wara and so just w has taken over as the abbreviation.

Other languages

Lol is a Dutch word (not an acronym) which, coincidentally, means "fun" ("lollig" means "funny").

In Welsh, lol means "nonsense" – e.g., if a person wanted to say "utter nonsense" in Welsh, they would say "rwtsh lol".[26]

See also


  1. ^ a b Matt Haig (2001). E-Mail Essentials: How to Make the Most of E-Communications. Kogan Page. pp. 89. ISBN 0749435763. 
  2. ^ a b Louis R. Franzini (2002). Kids Who Laugh: How to Develop Your Child's Sense of Humor. Square One Publishers, Inc.. pp. 145–146. ISBN 0757000088. 
  3. ^ a b Michael Egan (2004). Email Etiquette. Cool Publications Ltd. pp. 32,57–58. ISBN 1844811182. 
  4. ^ LMAO – entry at netlingo.
  5. ^ a b Jiuan Heng (2003). "The emergence of pure consciousness: The Theatre of Virtual Selves in the age of the Internet". in Peter D. Hershock, M. T. Stepaniants, and Roger T. Ames. Technology and Cultural Values: On the Edge of the Third Millennium. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 561. ISBN 0824826477. 
  6. ^ Eric S. Raymond and Guy L. Steele (1996). The New Hacker's Dictionary. MIT Press. pp. 435. ISBN 0262680920. 
  7. ^ Robin Williams and Steve Cummings (1993). Jargon: An Informal Dictionary of Computer Terms. University of Michigan. pp. 475. ISBN 0938151843. 
  8. ^ a b Tim Shortis (2001). The Language of ICT. Routledge. pp. 60. ISBN 0415222753. 
  9. ^ "Credibility and Authority on Internet Message Boards", a Master's thesis by Ryan Goudelocke, 2004
  10. ^ American Heritage Abbreviations Dictionary 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin. 2005. 
  11. ^ Silvio Laccetti and Scott Molsk (September 6, 2003). "Cost of poor writing no laughing matter". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 
  12. ^ Stevens Institute of Technology (October 22, 2003). "Article co-authored by Stevens professor and student garners nationwide attention from business, academia". Press release. 
  13. ^ Shirley H. Fondiller and Barbara J. Nerone (2007). Health Professionals Style Manual. Springer Publishing Company. pp. 98. ISBN 0826102077. 
  14. ^ Frank Yunker and Stephen Barry. "Threaded Podcasting: The Evolution of On-Line Learning". in Dan Remenyi. Proceedings of the International Conference on e-Learning, Université du Québec à Montréal, 22-23 June 2006. Academic Conferences Limited. pp. 516. ISBN 1905305222. 
  15. ^ Hossein Bidgoli (2004). The Internet Encyclopedia. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 277. ISBN 0471222011. 
  16. ^ David Crystal (September 20, 2001). Language and the Internet. Cambridge University Press. pp. 34. ISBN 0-521-80212-1. 
  17. ^ Victoria Clarke (January 30, 2002). "Internet English: an analysis of the variety of language used on Telnet talkers" (PDF). 
  18. ^ June Hines Moore (2007). Manners Made Easy for Teens. B&H Publishing Group. pp. 54. ISBN 0805444599. 
  19. ^ Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts (2004). Strategic Business Letters and E-Mail. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 289. ISBN 0618448330. 
  20. ^ Neda Ulaby (February 18, 2006). "OMG: IM Slang Is Invading Everyday English". Digital Culture. National Public Radio. 
  21. ^ a b Kristen Philipkoski (February 22, 2005). "The Web Not the Death of Language". Wired News.,1284,66671,00.html. 
  22. ^ Geoffrey K. Pullum (January 23, 2005). "English in Deep Trouble?". Language Log. Retrieved 2007-05-03. 
  23. ^ Naomi Baron (February 18, 200r). "Instant Messaging by American College Students: A Case Study in Computer-Mediated Communication". American Association for the Advancement of Science. 
  24. ^ Schwartz, Mattathias (2008-08-03). "The Trolls Among Us". The New York Times. pp. MM24. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  25. ^ Elkan, Mikael (2002). "Chat, chatsprog og smileys". Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  26. ^ "Welsh-English Lexicon". Cardiff School of Computer Science. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 

Further reading


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also lol



Alternative spellings


Pronounced both as an initialism (letter-by-letter) and as an acronym (as a word).

  • (UK) IPA: /ɛl.əu.ɛl/, /lɔːl/, /lɒl/, SAMPA: /El.@U.El/, /lO:l/, /lQl/
  • (US) IPA: /ɛl.oʊ.ɛl/, /lɔl/, /lɑl/, /loʊl/, SAMPA: /El.oU.El/, /lOl/, /lAl/, /loUl/


Wikipedia has an article on:



  1. (Internet, Internet slang) Laughing out loud
  2. (Internet, Internet slang) Laugh out loud
  3. (Internet, Internet slang) Lots of laughs (occasionally used)
  4. (letter-writing) Lots of love (now obsolete)



  1. (Internet, Internet slang) Expression of amusement.

Usage notes

"LOL" and "lol" are Internet shorthands, hence originally almost never used in speech. However in many online video game users are increasingly using this word instead of laughter. It may also be used jokingly or sarcastically in speech, but this is not common among conversations unrelated to a video game.

Derived terms

See also



Wikipedia has an article on:



  1. (US, British commonwealth, Irish) Loyal Orange Lodge, a prefix given to all branches of the Loyal Orange Order. For example, LOL 1 is Portadown branch.
  2. (dated) Lots of love.


Loyal Orange Lodge

  • [1] List of LOLs
  • [2] UK house of commons discussing an LOL

Simple English

LOL is an internet slang term that means "laugh out loud" or, less commonly, "lots of love". It also means mute in Persian and is a native Dutch word (not an acronym) which, conveniently, means "fun" ("lollig" means "funny").

In Welsh, lol means nonsense - e.g., if a person wanted to say "utter nonsense" in Welsh, they would say "rwtsh lol".[1] LOL is usually used on the internet or when text messaging.

ROFL is an internet slang word for "rolling on floor laughing" and is used in chat rooms to express when something is funny or humorous. LMAO is also an internet slang to represent "Laughing my Ass off" also used in chat rooms to express extreme humor and laughing

Trolol is when someone gets extreme "lolz" from internet trolling just to annoy and piss people off.

Most people nowadays just use the term LOL even when something is not funny, for example just used as a 1 word reply to a text message etc. when they cant be bothered.


  1. "Welsh-English Lexicon". Cardiff School of Computer Science. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 

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