LOL is an abbreviation for “Laugh(ing) Out Loud” or “Lots of Laughs”. It commonly used on social media, in text messages, in forums, and in informal emails as equivalent to the statement “this (or that) is so funny”.
LOL is one of many abbreviations commonly used online. Its use on platforms such as text messaging, chat rooms, social networks, forums, Usenet groups, and email is so common that the term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in March of 2011. One popular variation of LOL is ROTFL (“Rolling on the Floor Laughing”).
LOL may be used either in lower case (“lol”) or upper case(“LOL”) form. The upper-case version typically expresses a stronger reaction than the lower case version which is often used to express mild amusement rather than the physical act of laughing. The range of emotion expressed by the term covers a lot of ground, as a result, when something is humorous to the point of eliciting a physical reaction, modifiers and upper case letters are typically used to emphasize the strength of the reaction (for example: “LOL!!!!”).
Frequently Asked Questions
How is LOL used in digital conversation?
LOL is used to express that something is humorous. It is roughly equivalent to stating “this (or that) is so funny”. LOL can be used in two different ways: to reply to a message from another user or to add context to a statement.
When replying to another user, LOL expresses that a statement made by another user is humorous.
- First user: “I just totally fell asleep in class!”
- Second user: “LOL!”
Alternatively, LOL can be used to provide context to something that a user has said. For example, consider the effect of adding LOL to the end of the following statement.
- “I can't believe you just did that!”
- “I can't believe you just did that! LOL!”
While the first statement could be interpreted to be an expression of shock or even anger, the addition of LOL demonstrates that the statement is not intended to convey a negative emotion.
Are there any criticisms of the use of abbreviations?
While the use of initials as abbreviations online is common, the practice is not without criticism. Most of the criticm centers around three issues:
- Abbreviations are not appropriate in professional communication. It is widely accepted that abbreviations are fine for personal and informal messages, but are not appropriate in formal or professional messages.
- Abbreviations can create confusion. Since the number of abbreviations is constantly increasing, it is impossible for everyone to be fully aware of the meaning of all abbreviations. As a result, the use of abbreviations can create confusion.
- The meaning of abbreviations changes over time. For example, LOL has been so overused that it no longer carries a great deal of meaning and is typically used to express mild amusement while stronger abbreviations such as ROTFL are used to express a stronger response.