What Does BTW Mean in Slang? (How Do You Use It?)


Have you ever wondered what does BTW mean in slang?

Slang is a language that is part of the common vernacular and less formal than most written language.

However, as texting has become more popular, a new version of slang has developed. This “text speak” includes acronyms for shortening common phrases.

These common acronyms are famous for saving time and keystrokes. The most important part of these acronyms is that they are common enough for everyone to use and understand, like other slang terms.

Understanding the meaning of these “text speak” acronyms can save you time and miscommunication.

What Does BTW Mean in Slang?

BTW stands for “by the way.” It is used as an acronym for this common phrase.

People do not often say “BTW” in speech. However, it is quite common to use in the text. When it is spoken out loud, there are a few ways people will use the acronym.

One is by simply saying the letters “BTW” (pronounced “Bee Tee Double-Yu”). Another standard pronunciation is “Bee Tee Dubs.” “Dubs” is a shortened form of W.

Why Do People Use Text Speak?

People use text speak to save time and characters. There is a rich history of people shortening words throughout time to save ink, time, and space.

Being able to type common phrases with short abbreviations can make texting faster. It also means if you are sending a long message, you can condense some of your words.

This was crucial when phone companies limited texts to specific character counts.

History of Text Speak

While texting slang may seem like a relatively new phenomenon, it is a practice that dates back for quite some time. Language develops over time, so some abbreviations have become so common that we do not recognize that they started as abbreviations.

“Goodbye” is a common word used to end conversations. It began, though, as an abbreviation. In the late 14th century, one common way to address someone at parting was “God be with ye.”

In the late 1500s, in writing, people began to contract the phrase to “godbwye.” The b in this contraction represents the word “be,” and the w represents “with.” Over time, the abbreviation shortened again to “good-by,” “good bye,” and “goodbye.”

As we can see with this usage of “goodbye” from “God be with ye,” abbreviations, contractions, and shortening text in writing have been a common practice for centuries.

Telegraphs and Text Speak

Text speak also became popular 120 years ago when telegrams were one of the easiest and fastest ways to communicate with people in a different area than yours.

Telegrams had limits on how many words and characters could be sent. As a result, longer messages often would cost more than shorter telegraphs.

“Many people used abbreviations during this time that closely resembled the SMS slang and shorthands that we use today. Common abbreviations include “ha ha ha” to represent laughter, which is still in use today.”

Others are “No rest fo t wickd,” meaning “No rest for the wicked,” “How r u,” meaning “How are you?” and “Min pen,” which was used when the telegram writer needed to adjust their pen.

Telegraph machines spurred the usage of text speak because it was necessary to save time, money, and space when sending essential messages.

SMS Codes and Cell Phones (Facebook)

Today, most people do not have text limits. Therefore, it is commonplace to send paragraphs as text messages at no extra charge. However, this was not always the case.

Early cell phones had character limits for text messages. This meant that every text message could only have a certain number of letters or numbers before the message would be split and sent separately.

Keeping everything in one note was crucial, as it was commonplace to pay per text message. Thus, just like with telegrams, we were once again faced with the necessity of contractions and shortened speech.

Phones did not have full keyboards like most do today. You would have to use the numbers and push the button multiple times to achieve certain letters. This was a timely process. Using short hands saved time and energy because it was much faster to type “2morrow” or “l8er” than “tomorrow” or “later.”

In the early texting days, there were abbreviations for dozens of common phrases. For example, people would use letters and numbers to represent entire sentences rather than those total words. Today, many of those common abbreviations have stayed in usage.

Others have fallen out of use and style, as it is now less common to pay per text.

Standard Text Abbreviations and Their Meanings (Sexuality)

There are dozens of text abbreviations in usage, and these can vary between cultures and age groups. This is not an exhaustive list, but it includes many standard text abbreviations you may encounter when using SMS.

  • BTW- “By the way.”This is used at the beginning or end of a sentence to suggest that something is additional information.
  • TL;DR- “Too long; didn’t read.” This is used when someone has written a long text with many different points.

Sometimes people will respond “tl;dr,” saying that the message was too long for them to read. Sometimes, though, it is also used to help summarize things for people looking for a quick answer to a question.

For example, someone would write “tl;dr” and then quickly summarize the points. Then readers can read the full text for more details.

  • OOTD- “Outfit of the day.” This usage stems more from hashtags and online posting than text speak. People will use “#OOTD” or just “OOTD” while sharing a picture of the clothes they are proud of wearing that day.
  • QOTD- “Quote of the day.” Much like “OOTD,” “QOTD” is often used in posting online. People will use this when sharing an inspirational quote or a quote that is particularly relevant to their current life and experiences.
  • HMU- “Hit me up.” This is used when someone is saying they are available for something. It can be used when someone is free to talk or wants someone to meet up. Sometimes people will also use it while saying they are free to help.
  • IDK- “I don’t know.” This is used when someone cannot answer something.
  • LOL- “Laughing out loud.” This is a unique phrase. It began as a shortened way of sending laughter over text. Its usage has evolved, though, and now it is occasionally used just to signify that something is a joke or lighthearted.
  • IYKYK- “If you know, you know.” This is often used when something is an inside joke. It is a way of saying, “Remember _____?” It is usually used when sharing a meme or funny picture.
  • BRB- “Be right back.” This is used when someone needs to step away from the phone but wants to continue the conversation shortly.
  • IMO- “In my opinion.” This is used when someone wants to share their thoughts on the matter but does not consider their opinion to be fact.
  • TBH- “To be honest.” This is used when someone would like to be frank in a text conversation. They want to show that they are not joking.


Slang text has been around for centuries in some form or another. Many common phrases that we use today, like “goodbye,” began as contractions as far back as the Middle Ages.

Text speak rose again to popularity during the telegraph days, as messages were limited by space, and using abbreviations and contractions could save time and money.

SMS shorthand became popular in text when texts had character limits, and it was necessary to type short messages to save money.

Many standard SMS shorthands are still used today. BTW is a typical example that means “by the way.”




Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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