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What is “LOL” and how is it used?

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The term “LOL” is a staple of the internet and texting conversations around the world. Where does this legendary three letter abbreviation come from and how is it used? Discover it here.

Laughing out loud

LOL means “laugh out loud” or “laugh out loud”. It means that something is funny or made you laugh.

It is one of the most famous acronyms on the Internet and is used in almost every part of the web. Due to its popularity, it is even used during in-person conversations and has earned an entry in many English dictionaries.

You can also use “LOL” as a verb. For example, if you want to convey that something made you laugh in the past, you can type “LOL’d.”

Note: The term “LoL” can also mean League of Legends , a free online multiplayer game that you can download for Windows or macOS.

An internet classic

As the most prolific internet slang term, LOL has a storied history. The first instance where LOL is used to mean “laugh out loud” in a digital medium dates back to the 1980s in a Usenet server . As the Internet grew, the use of LOL also grew, becoming one of the most common abbreviations in Internet chat rooms, instant messaging applications, and social networking websites over the decades.

Its legacy as a crucial piece of Internet jargon was solidified in 2011 when Oxford University Press added it to the Oxford English Dictionary . Since then, it has spawned many variations and has been used countless times, sometimes deviating from its original use as an initial to show laughter. In recent years, users have gone from using uppercase “LOL” to lowercase “lol”, however there are some subtle differences between the two.

LOL variations

Someone laughing while looking at a phone.
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The great popularity of LOL has led to the creation of many different variations and related slang terms. Some of the more common related terms include ROFL and LMAO, which mean “rolling on the ground laughing” and “laughing out loud,” respectively.

Other versions of the term have emerged from different parts of the Internet. Some known variations of LOL include “lul,” “lel,” and “lolno.”

In addition, the widespread adoption of emojis And the popularity of laugh-related emojis probably dates back to LOL. In particular, the emoji » Face with tears of joy »() Has become a staple of the Internet and conveys a meaning very similar to LOL.

Change of meaning

An illustration of LOL chat bubbles.
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Like many acronyms on the Internet, the meaning of the word “lol” has changed over time.

Today, a common use of the word is a sentence filler online, similar to how people say “um” or “I like it” in speech. Many people will send the word “lol” before or after a message without really thinking about it. For example, you might say, “I had pizza for lunch, hahaha.” While there is nothing inherently funny about that message, it can show goofy, sarcasm, or indifference depending on the context.

LOL also changes meaning based on how it is capitalized. The capital “LOL” often conveys real laughter or finding something funny. On the other hand, the more common lower case “lol” is often used to express fun, interest, or nothing at all.

There are even ways to use lol negatively. Sending nothing but “lol” in response to someone’s message can be a subtle indication that you don’t find what they said exciting or relevant to you. Alternatively, responding with “hahaha” to a supposedly serious message shows that you are not taking what they are saying as seriously.

How to use LOL

To use LOL, insert it into your messages whenever you find something funny. If something really made you laugh, use the capital letters LOL. On the other hand, if something is a bit funny, use the lower case lol.

The acronym is pretty well known outside of internet circles, so you can also say it out loud in conversations instead of actual laughter. However, be careful when using it in professional settings, as it is considered relatively informal.

Here are some examples of LOL in action:

  • “LOL! I’m laughing out loud! «
  • “There’s no way I’m doing that hahaha.”
  • Running a marathon? I can barely climb a flight of stairs, haha. «

If you are interested in learning more about crucial terms in the history of the Internet, check out our articles on Meatspace , Leetspeak and JK .

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