For about as long as the internet has existed, it’s been used for illicit activity. Before e-commerce ballooned into a multi-trillion dollar industry, the first deal facilitated by the internet was a weed exchange between students at Stanford University and MIT at some point between 1971 and 1972. These days, McAffee estimates cybercrime costs the global economy as much as $600 billion, and the FBI’s efforts to curb the harm of internet fraud have taken many forms over the years.
The agency even compiled an internal 83-page guide to internet slang which, thanks to a 2014 Freedom of Information Act request, is now available for your enjoyment. It’s on the Internet Archive, albeit in very low quality, and it has 2,800 entries from ALIHAL (at least I have a life) to WWOTW (wicked witch of the west) and everywhere in between.
It’s unclear whether anyone is conducting illicit online activities that require the acronym “WYLASOMWTC” (Would you like a saucer of milk with that comment?) but if they are, the FBI will be onto you!
A number of slang terms were new to me:
- IOKIYAR = it’s ok if you’re a Republican
- BFP = big fat positive (i.e. pregnant)
- BIC = believe it comrade
- FTASB = faster than a speeding bullet
- DPYN = don’t pick your nose
- EB = eyeball
- IITYWTMWYKM = if I tell you what this means will you kiss me
A new personal favorite is H9, which the esteemed Federal Bureau of Investigations defines as “really hate (H8 + 1) and the various numerical ways to say “I love you”: either 381 (3 words, 8 letters, 1 meaning) or 143 (one letter, four letters, 3 letters).
How do you do, fellow kids? — Baffled adults must decrypt the messages their kids send online, from the everyday ROFL to the more unusual acronym DITYID (“Did I tell you I’m depressed?”). And hey, the FBI is no different! Even the foremost U.S. intelligence agency needs a Twitter lingo cheat sheet, which its employees “should find useful in [their] work or for keeping up with [their] children and/or grandchildren.”
Good faith guides to internet lingo are so widespread that they’ve become a meme. Is your child texting about Charles Dickens? Herpetology? What about Coronavirus? Even the brands are mocking clueless adults.