What Does "LOL" Mean?

Helen Akers

"LOL" stands for "laughing out loud." It was originally used in online communication as both an acronym and Internet slang word. Early instant message and chat room interactions further developed "LOL" into several other variations, including rolling on the floor laughing (ROFL). As a slang word it has come to mean laughter or an indication that someone thinks something is funny.

"LOL" is commonly used on social networking sites.
"LOL" is commonly used on social networking sites.

The acronym "LOL" is used in both Internet and face-to-face communication. It is also frequently used in text messaging and is an informal, shorthand way of expressing laughter. Some people use it to indicate they are smiling in response to what someone else said.

"LOL" stands for "laughing out loud."
"LOL" stands for "laughing out loud."

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"LOL" does not necessarily mean that the person is actually laughing out loud. The acronym has evolved to mean a casual response to anything said or posted online that prompts simple amusement. When participating in Internet communication, some use shorthand to appear as though they are engaged in a conversation. It saves them from having to formulate a longer, more thought out response. "LOL" can also indicate a sarcastic or snide reaction.

"LOL" is often used in text messages.
"LOL" is often used in text messages.

Laughing out loud or "LOL" can also mean that someone thinks something is hysterical or extremely funny. It means that they find something so funny that it causes them to burst out laughing. The laughter is typically loud enough for others to hear and may result in the person feeling stomach cramps or tear up as a result of the laughter's strength.

Emoticons may be added to acronyms like "LOL" to add emphasis.
Emoticons may be added to acronyms like "LOL" to add emphasis.

As an expression, "LOL" is used in more than just instant message and chat room communication. It is frequently used in e-mail, online message board posts, and social media communication. Posts on popular social networking sites often showcase the use of Internet slang, including "LOL."

Text messages also make use of the acronym. Since the amounts of characters that are typically allowed in a text message are limited, using shorthand can be an effective way to communicate main concepts or points. It can also make the process of composing, replying and sending the messages more efficient.

There are additional forms of laughing out loud. Rolling on the floor laughing (ROFL), actually laughing out loud (ALOL), laughing my face off (LMFO) and laughing my head off (LMHO) are variations of the original Internet acronym. While they all essentially mean the same thing, some use each variation to indicate the degree of laughter. ROFL often translates as extremely funny, while LMFO and LMHO are references to how really hard laughter causes pressure in the face and head.

Someone might post "LOL" when they read something funny online.
Someone might post "LOL" when they read something funny online.

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