Off Topic: Hyper-Abbreviation (a manual)

Language is dynamic.

Take any linguistics course, and the ever-changing nature of language is one of the first things you learn. Over time, words morph and change into completely new animals. This is why Charles Spurgeon frequently referred to God as awful in his sermons. It is why Michael Jackson sang a whole song about being bad, and somehow that was a good thing. It is why, “That’s sick!” is a compliment.

But we must ask ourselves, is there a point where society has gone too far?

In recent years a new phenomenon has made its way into the vernacular. It started with text messages and was heightened to a new level with the advent of Twitter. Due to the space constraints in these mediums, it seems Americans are increasingly unable to compose a thought longer than 140 characters.

Innocent enough at first, people would replace common phrases with simple acronyms. As English teachers everywhere cringed, teenagers coined terms such as: LOL (laugh out loud), ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing), TTYL (talk to you later), and the rarely used ICBINB (I can’t believe it’s not butter).

However, what started as simple truncation for the sake of squeezing a complete thought into a tweet is no longer reserved for smartphone screens.

Enter Hyper-Abbreviation.

Hyper-Abbreviation is the unnecessary truncation of normal, everyday words in speech communication. While this deplorable act should have caused outrage over the molestation of the beloved English language, it has paraded into the vernacular unannounced and laid siege to the tongues of a great many youth. And not just the youth, as I have encountered several college graduates pursuing advanced degrees who frequently commit this egregious error in communication.

In truth, text messages and tweets do create space constraints that sometimes makes abbreviations or acronyms necessary. However, in speech communication, this is simply not so. There is no need to shave off the back half of a word in normal conversation.

If you, like myself, are appalled by this act, perhaps you will find the remainder of this post helpful. The following is my attempt at a simple guide to help you identify the Hyper-Abbreviators around you.


Hyper-Abbreviation: A Manual

Abbrevs – n. (short for abbreviations) the term given to any and all words that have been unnecessarily truncated

ex: Boy, Johnny sure does use a lot of abbrevs when he talks.

A list of common abbrevs:

  • Totes – totally
  • Def – definitely (as in “most def”)
  • Presh – precious (not to be confused with preesh see below)
  • Preesh – to appreciate
  • Reg – regular (as in “on the reg”)
  • Divs – divas (pronounced deevs)
  • Perf – perfect
  • Delish – delicious
  • Jelly – jealous
  • Adorbs – adorable

Here are some examples of abbrev usage in everyday conversations:

Person 1 – Can you believe the way Franklin and Henry are acting?
Person 2 – Oh, they’re just being a couple of divs!
Person 1 – Most def
Person 1 – Have you seen Ashley’s new boyfriend?
Person 2 – Yeah, he’s so presh.
Person 1 – Totes adorbs
Person 2 – I know, right? I’m so jelly.

Certainly, this manual is a work in progress. You tell me, what abbrevs have I left out? Is there something else that belongs on this list?

8 thoughts on “Off Topic: Hyper-Abbreviation (a manual)

  1. This is too funny! I don’t even like to use most abbreviations when I text! But my teens in the youth department do! Thanks for the ‘class’. I needed to add to my college credits just did not know it would be modern culture English. I did not know some of these! But don’t forget the famous OMG. If I had a dollar for every time I heard that….
    Have a good day! Praying for you.


    1. OMG is a classic, and it’s one I left off on purpose. And you are completely right about the widespread usage with youth. My goodness, they do this all the time. To the extent I can’t understand some now. Which is ridiculous! I’m not that old!

      In all honesty though, I’ve read some linguists saying that we are actually standing at one of those crucial points in the evolution of our language where it is transitioning into a new one. Just like Old English switched into Middle English and then into Modern English. Those are all technically different languages, and we may be at yet another one of those transition moments in history. Who knows what they will call it… Modern is already taken.

      Perhaps it will be Postmodern English.


  2. I am so glad to know I am not the only one that thinks like this. I will admit that I myself use several “txt wds” (text words) but even the ones I use show my age (30). I am a fan of “LOL” and use it most frequently but never outside of social media or text as well as the new over use of the exclimation point (!!!!!!!!!!). I remember coming across a word I had to have a teenager explain to me and it was at that point I knew I wasn’t “down” with the new lingos anymore and should stop trying to keep up. “Ima” is a short version for an already shortened phrase “I’m gonna” (I am going to). I now find myself driven crazy by the horrible spelling and language. I have even “unfriended” a few people on Facebook that annoyed me by their horrible use of text speak and bad grammar. I cannot stand having to continuously refer to the Urban Dictionary to decipher a status update. I also remember thinking that a few new phrases I would hear reminded me of “valley girl talk” and the movie “Clueless.” Can you imagine what the bible would look like if converted to text speak? Perhaps kids nowadays would understand it and follow the Word better though LOL (yeah, I had to laugh at myself there).


    1. Yeah, I’ve seen “Ima” in use as well. And your rant on exclamation points brings up a whole new topic. The rules seems to have changed on their usage as well.

      As for a Bible translated in text speak… give it a little while. They already have some pretty interesting ones out there. For instance, here is an excerpt from the Cotton Patch Gospel, which is actually a redneck translation (I’m not joking about this either):

      “This guy John was dressed in blue jeans and a leather jacket, and he was living on corn bread and collard greens. Folks were coming to him from Atlanta and all over north Georgia and the backwater of the Chattahoochee. And as they owned up to their crooked ways, he dipped them in the Chattahoochee.” — Matthew 3:4-6

      And another personal favorite from that translation:

      “Nor do people put new tubes in old, bald tires. If they do the tires will blow out, and the tubes will be ruined and the tires will be torn up. But they put new tubes in new tires and both give good mileage.” — Matthew 9:17


  3. It’s one thing when we use it in conversation. It’s another when media conglomerates decide to re-identify themselves under these grammatical rules (HuffPo, WaPo, NatGeo, etc.) Really, guys? “Post” is too complicated to pronounce? You have to sound like you’re mom bloggers?


    1. Oh, it’s true! When people shorten things in conversation, that can get aggravating. However, when actual businesses and television stations do it, it is somewhat absurd. The American corporation, always trying to give the consumer what they want. They are the ultimate people-pleasers and will do anything to make people like them. It’s kind of funny, businesses nowadays are just like a little teenager in high school who would do absolutely anything if they thought it would make them popular. Go figure…


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