Twitter™ language is a collection of acronyms, phrases, and language conventions used on the online social networking service Twitter™. The language is a blend of official terms and user-generated jargon. Twitter™ language is many ways distinct from language used on other social networking sites.
Much of the core Twitter™ language comes from elements of the service itself. A “tweet” is the official term for a message posted on Twitter™, and a person who tweets is known as a “Tweeter” or “Twitterer”. To follow someone on Twitter™ is to subscribe to that person’s tweets. A direct message (DM) is a private message between Tweeters.
Twitter™ emphasizes social interaction, so much of the language is used to interact with other users. The “@” symbol before a username is used to refer to another Tweeter, a practice known as mentioning. Tweeters will also “retweet” other posts they find interesting. In a tradition known as “Follow Friday,” Twitter™ users will introduce their followers to other Tweeters.
Twitter™ users have proven to be an inventive bunch, and have formed much of the Twitter™ language themselves. The retweet, abbreviated RT in posts, was in common use long before it became an official feature. A hashtag, named for the # symbol before a keyword, #Iran for example, caught on as a convenient way to mark and find tweets on similar topics. The letters “OH” before a message mean a Tweeter is sharing something they overheard.
Twitter™ language can also be a tool in international communication. Conventions like the hashtag aren’t specific to English, so Tweeters of all backgrounds can use them. Some Twitter™ tools can even translate tweets automatically.
The 140 character limit, widespread use of smartphones, and real-time nature of the service have all greatly influenced the language. Journalists, politicians, and even educators among others often use abbreviations and slang in their Tweets that would never be accepted elsewhere. Shortcuts such as “wk” for “week” and “4” instead of “for” are commonly used to save both space and time.
The Twitter™ language also includes words and phrases morphed from English to take on a new meaning in a social networking context. The “Twitterati,” for example, are elite Tweeters who often have hundreds of thousands of followers. Other examples include tweetaholic, tweavesdropping, and dweeting, i.e., drunk tweeting. Twitter™ maintains a glossary of common terms on its website, and several other sites maintain their own dictionaries of the latest terms in the Twitter™ language.