We’ve all been there—in an all out riot fest when texting somebody. Maybe it’s a close friend. Maybe it’s a crush. Maybe it’s a parent. The fact is you’ll never really know if they truly understand your astounding quip, or if they shrugged it off with a less calloused version of “meh.”
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? Well, we all know that LOL means “laugh out loud” (however, it’s rarely true) and HAHA is simply an onomatopoeia of literal laughter, but they both hold very strong, very distinct variations of rhetoric depending on what they are being used as a response to. Whoa—big word alert in an article about millennial language botching.
Back to what’s important: LOL vs. HAHA. The following is to be your definitive guide for context clues into what the person you’re feverishly texting back and forth with means when they choose to use either LOL or HAHA (or other variations of capitalization) to evoke laughter.
LOL (if sent as a reply)
This is the most sincere SMS you can get containing these three little letters. The all-caps indicates the person wants you to understand they appreciate your attempt at comedy, and quite possibly are smiling, but in all reality are not laughing out loud in the least.
“So that’s when I said: This sauce is spicier than my love life these days.”
They get what you’re saying, and although it isn’t that funny, they aren’t going to be rude and leave you hanging.
LOL (if sent within their context)
This is for when somebody sends you something that you might not otherwise understand was supposed to be funny without the inflection of their human voice (yes, pointing out “human” is relevant).
“So Mark told me to GTFO, but I just wouldn’t leave until he told me the truth. LOL”
Something like this sounds intimidating, but they masked it with an all caps LOL to make you realize it was “actually” a quite comical situation – from their point of view. A response is up to you, but don’t be fooled by their ending qualifier.
lol (if sent as a reply)
This sadly indicates the exact opposite of what the acronym stands for. This person is probably as stone-faced as a gargoyle. They probably didn’t even crack a smile, nor did they even soak in what you had actually said.
“The Starbucks barista totally fudged up my name. Instead of Ryan they put Mayan!”
The context clue they’re sending is that this conversation is not only NOT funny, but also over.
lol (if sent within their context)
This is reserved for when somebody has something that is probably slightly offensive or hateful, but wants to take a meta approach and detour your mind from that feeling.
“I’m totally going to leave this restaurant a bad Yelp review just because I can. lol You should too.”
A person who sneaks this little tagline into the middle of their warped thoughts has no soul. lol They should die.
HAHA (if sent as a reply)
This truly means what you said was funny, but probably still not in a way that summoned real-life laughter.
“What’s a bigger rip off: bagels or donuts? I ain’t tryna have a hole in my food.”
At least you didn’t realize they weren’t actually laughing at your jokes, until now.
HAHA (if sent within their context)
This is meant to provoke you into thinking something that isn’t funny, is indeed funny. They may be seeking validation for their actions.
“I just ate a whole pizza. HAHA”
Don’t give them the satisfaction and leave them hanging on this one. Or better yet, reply “lol.”
haha (if sent as a reply)
This person truly enjoyed what you had to say and may have even slightly chuckled. However, they’re in a meeting or in the middle of something and can’t type too much without getting distracted. It may also trail off into multiple haha’s
“Just realized the only ‘science’ I’ve done in my adult life has been finding the perfect balance between hot and cold water when showering.”
If it ends with an exclamation that is when you finally know that you have made somebody laugh. A replied lowercase haha is the most sincere sentiment of real life laughter.
Therefore, in conclusion, (I declare) multiple haha’s followed by an optional exclamation point is the only time when something in a text message exchange is truly and honestly a funny statement.