IRC Chat: Common Terms, Abbreviations, and Phrases

Posted on 20 February 2009

Once you get into IRC, you need to understand the barrage of abbreviations and phrases that are commonly used.

People will do anything to be lazy—especially where typing is concerned. Anyone who uses IRC will come across abbreviations and certain jargon that will stump them initially. Do not look like a fool by asking unless you absolutely must!

Noun-Verb Duality

One peculiarity you may notice is that IRC commands are often treated as both verbs and nouns. You can refer to your IRC client documentation for additional commands, but here are some examples:


n. A person in a channel who has the +o flag in a channel. Usually has the @ prefix in the username.

v. The act of setting mode +o. Used with omitted subject “me” as a request.


/mode #


 +o lamer

* idiot sets mode +o lamer

n. A person who has been granted special privileges on the IRC server.

 TsTech is an oper, right?

v. To identify to an IRC server with an administrator login and password, for example.

/oper User Password
msg (short for privmsg)

n. A private message to a user.

[lamer()] you're cool

v. To send someone a private message.

/msg lamer I know am.

Leet Speak

lE3+ $Pe@K IS EVErywh3rE, 4nd iT'$ nO+ C0n51$t3nt. 

l33t $pEAK 15 3V3rYWH3RE, @nd 1+'5 n0T c0n515TeNt. 

Le3T $P3aK 15 EVERYwh3RE, 4Nd iT'5 No+ c0N$15+EnT. 

l3eT 5p34K i5 Ev3rYWH3R3, 4nD 1T's n0+ C0ns15+3N+. 

L33T $P3@k 15 EVerYWH3R3, @ND 1+'5 N0+ cONS15+3N+.

“Leet” (from “elite”) speak is novelty English commonly used on IRC, instant messaging, and gaming. The use of leet speak is considered childish; however, it may also be used with sarcasm, so don’t expect to be taken too seriously if you choose to use it.

With practice, you’ll be able to read the preceding examples almost as quickly as normal text. Leet speak is quite often derived by replacing letters with numbers that look similar; for example, o could be replaced by 0 and e could be replaced by 3, which looks like a reversed E. Leet speak is not consistent, so you may even see an o being replaced by parentheses or an m being replaced by |/|.

Correction Syntax

After a user finds an error that she made on the previous line, she may try to correct the mistake. Many methods exist for delimiting corrections. The most common is the asterisk method, which is used like so:

 I want a glass of lemonaid.


It doesn’t matter if the asterisk is placed at the beginning or the end of the correction. “*lemonade” and “lemonade*” are both commonly used asterisk correction statements.

Another popular way of correcting a mistake is the “s-slash” method. Addicts of the Perl programming language commonly use this. It works like this:

 My bolonie sandwich fell on the floor :( 


s/mistake/correction is how it’s done. This is derived from the search-and-replace regular expression syntax found in Perl code. Its meaning is mostly esoteric, but people can figure out “mistake” slash “correction” easily enough for it to work.

Phonetics and Keyboard Layouts

Many mistakes and typos can be interpreted. Spelling “ever” as “evar” is an obvious mishap, but “gppf” (“food”) isn’t so easy to detect. If you are chatting with an English speaker, keep in mind the standard QWERTY keyboard layout when encountering a typo. It is better to think than to ask for clarification. In most cases, people answer their own question by the time they press Return to send the question, for example:

 I just saw that AYBABTU animation for the 167th time!


 Oh! I get it.

 All your base are belong to us.


 AFK! wife brought gppf

* Hungary is away


 Turkey: He means "food"

List of acronyms people use on IRC

IRC attracts a curious breed of user—people who seem happy to sit around chatting all day, yet are too lazy to type full words at times. Understanding the acronyms they use will make it easier to fit in, but you are advised not to join in with their acronym overload.

Here is a list of the most commonly used abbreviations and acronyms on IRC. Some of them may already be familiar to users of Usenet groups or web boards:


As far as I know.


Away from keyboard. People often type this if they are in the middle of a conversation and want other people to realize they are not around. It is sometimes added to the end of a user’s nickname to indicate the same fact; for example, Jibbler may change his nickname to Jibbler|afk.


Age/Sex/Location. This is something asked of all newcomers in prepubescent channels.


At the moment.


Be back in a bit.


Be back in a few.


Be back later.


Be back soon.


Be right back. Often said when someone is in the middle of a conversation but has to dash off to do something, with the intention of returning to the conversation.


By the way.


C (see) you.


Direct Client Connection. The name given to the connection used to transfer files or chat directly to another user without going via the server.




Don’t worry.


For f*#&’s sake.


F*#&ed if I know.


F*#&ed up beyond all repair/recognition.


F*#& you.


For your information.


Good night.


I am not a lawyer.


If I recall correctly.


In my (humble) opinion.


In real life.

JK (J/K)

Just kidding.


Loser/luser/lamer attitude readjustment tool. Channel operators may ready the LART to deal with users who don’t seem to have a clue.


Laughing my ass off.


Short for hello.


Laughing out loud. This is a common response from people after you’ve said something funny.


Long time no see.


Message of the day. This is normally announced when you connect to an IRC server.


Mind your own business.


Not much or never mind.


No problem.


Oh, I C (see).


Oh my God (darn).




Re-hello. People may welcome you with this if you part a channel and rejoin it a while later.


Rolling on (the) floor laughing.


Read the f*#&ing manual. A common response to users who join a channel and ask a question that is already answered in some documentation.


Talk to you later.


Thank you.


Uniform Resource Locator (Internet address).




Welcome back.

WE (W/E)





What/who/why/where the f*#&.


Way to go.


What/who/why/where the heck/hell.

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This post was written by:

R. MAK. - who has written 232 posts on ixibo.

How Should I describe me?... Well! I am a simple dude, who likes to indulge in intelligent conversation with an intelligent people, specially on technology topics hope you are one of them :p

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