The Syntax Of “Lol”

“Lol” is the most passive and trite term in the texting and digital landscape. That’s not to say abbreviating you laughed out loud is meaningless though, as it can take on many implications from its placement: almost none of which include I found what you said to be funny.

Placements and meanings:

1. Indiscriminate lol usage/multiple usages within a text

Examples: “I’m good lol how are you?” or “That’s cool lol, I’m going out tonight but don’t know where lol.”

Meaning: I’m trying to keep the conversation upbeat and friendly. I don’t find the things you’re saying nor I’m saying to be actually amusing, and I’m likely nervous when speaking with you or I’m flirting with you. Tantamount to nervous giggling throughout a spoken conversation. People who know each other well will almost never text in this manner. This is reserved for new relationships/interactions likely with romantic undertones.

2. Standalone lol

Example: “lol”

Meaning: I’m politely recognizing you made a joke or attempted humor of some kind, I however did not actually find it funny. This registers just one notch above the most despised of text responses, the deplorable “k” reply.

3. One lol at the beginning of a sentence

Example: “We couldn’t present today because Jeff didn’t learn his parts.”…

Response: “Lol he had no idea what was going on.”

Meaning: Almost always in response to something and not as a conversation starter. Used as a form of active listening as you will notice the respondent either elaborating on what was previously said or directly replying to the content of the previous message. You could often replace this lol with a colon or semicolon and it would grammatically make sense.

4. Caps lock lol

Example: “LOL”

Meaning: How a person over 40 writes lol.

5. Successive lol’s or exclamation point lol

Example: “lololololol” and “Lol!”

Meaning: You were pretty funny or clever just now; I may have outwardly chuckled. It is however doubtful you achieved maximum amusement, as the subsequent response in this list conveys your reader has experienced the pinnacle of digital laughs.

6. Lmao or multiple haha’s

Example: “lmao” and “hahahaha”

Meaning: How millennials express that you were actually funny just now. High possibility I actually laughed out loud. Well done.

7. Lol with ellipsis

Example: “Lol…”

Meaning: I’m sarcastically laughing at you or am attempting to assert intellectual
superiority by looking down on your viewpoints, actions, etc. Prevalent in
exchanges involving differing opinions or arguments.

It’s interesting how an incredibly hackneyed acronym that appears to be pretty straight forward has become idiomatic in meaning. Just as body language can give you tacit clues as to a person’s disposition in real life, so can an “lol” placement via a digital medium. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog