National Internet Day: Most baffling text abbreviations explained

  • SMH (Shake my head) tops the list as the most searched for text abbreviation, with nearly 900,000 average monthly global searches.

  • Search interest for GOAT (Greatest of all time) has seen a 300% surge in the past 12 months on Google Trends.

  • 35 out of 100 abbreviations analysed have amassed more than 100,000 average monthly searches worldwide.

Millennials and Gen Z are continually evolving, implementing ways to shorten the words they use while texting or crafting their social media posts, which has led to text message abbreviations and internet acronyms bombarding our chat rooms and social media feeds.

Hence, intrigued to find out which texting abbreviations make people scratch their heads most, extracted global search volume data from online analytics tool Ahrefs for 100 abbreviations, to divulge which abbreviations are the hardest to decipher as online users turn to Google for clarification.

The Results:   

               Top 20 Most Googled Text Abbreviations Worldwide

Rank Text Abbreviations Average Global Monthly Search Volumes    
1  SMH (Shake my head) 897,600    
2  LMAO (Laughing my a** off) 429,600    
3  TBH (To be honest) 398,200    
4  LOL (Laughing out loud) 344,300    
5  HMU (Hit me up) 303,000    
6  FOMO (Fear of missing out) 292,800    
7  NGL (Not gonna lie) 280,200    
8  DM (Direct message) 279,900    
9  AFK (Away from keyboard) 266,600    
10  BAE (Before anyone else) 224,900    
11  GOAT (Greatest of all time) 215,700    
12  IMO (In my opinion) 214,900    
13  NSFW (Not safe for work) 200,100    
14  OFC (Of course) 177,400    
15  BBL (Be back later) 166,100    
16  TFW (That feeling when) 164,800    
17  TLDR (Too long didn’t read) 162,400    
18  FYI (For your information) 156,200    
19  POV (Point of view) 156,000    
20  YOLO (You only live once) 146,200    

*For a full ranking of the 100 text messaging abbreviations analysed, please find attached data sheet in the OneDrive folder here.

SMH (Shake my head) secured the top spot with a staggering 897,600 average global monthly searches asking for its meaning. It was added to the Urban Dictionary back in 2004, defining it as a response to situations one finds ridiculous or stupid, which has garnered over 25,000 upvotes since then.

In second place with over 400,000 average global monthly searches is the abbreviation LMAO (Laughing My A** Off). Many might have already come across this ubiquitous acronym often accompanying humorous messages and memes, but simply have no clue what the alphabets refer to exactly. 

The third most confounding is TBH (To Be Honest), leading to an average google search of 398,200 monthly globally. Also, seeing a sharp increase of 300% in search interest over the past 12 months based on Google Trends, the abbreviation GOAT (Greatest of All Time) has translated into 215,700 average monthly searches worldwide for its meaning, positioning it in 11th place. 

Chris Price