National Internet Day!

SMH & GOAT are among the most confusing text abbreviations, according to users.

  • SMH (shake my head) tops the list as the most searched for text abbreviation, with nearly 900,000 average monthly global searches.
  • Search interest for GOAT (Greatest of all time) has seen a 300% surge in the past 12 months on Google Trends.
  • 35 out of 100 abbreviations analysed have amassed more than 100,000 average monthly searches worldwide.

Millennials and Gen Z are continually evolving, implementing ways to shorten the words they use while texting or crafting their social media posts, which has led to text message abbreviations and internet acronyms bombarding our chat rooms and social media feeds.

Hence, intrigued to find out which texting abbreviations make people scratch their heads most, extracted global search volume data from online analytics tool Ahrefs for 100 abbreviations, to divulge which abbreviations are the hardest to decipher as online users turn to Google for clarification.


The Results:


                              Top 20 Most Googled Text Abbreviations Worldwide

Rank Text Abbreviations Average Global Monthly Search Volumes  
1 SMH (Shake my head) 897,600  
2 LMAO (Laughing my a** off) 429,600  
3 TBH (To be honest) 398,200  
4 LOL (Laughing out loud) 344,300  
5 HMU (Hit me up) 303,000  
6 FOMO (Fear of missing out) 292,800  
7 NGL (Not gonna lie) 280,200  
8 DM (Direct message) 279,900  
9 AFK (Away from keyboard) 266,600  
10 BAE (Before anyone else) 224,900  
11 GOAT (Greatest of all time) 215,700  
12 IMO (In my opinion) 214,900  
13 NSFW (Not safe for work) 200,100  
14 OFC (Of course) 177,400  
15 BBL (Be back later) 166,100  
16 TFW (That feeling when) 164,800  
17 TLDR (Too long didn’t read) 162,400  
18 FYI (For your information) 156,200  
19 POV (Point of view) 156,000  
20 YOLO (You only live once) 146,200  


*For a full ranking of the 100 text messaging abbreviations analysed, please find attached data sheet in the OneDrive folder here.

SMH (Shake my head) secured the top spot with a staggering 897,600 average global monthly searches asking for its meaning. It was added to the Urban Dictionary back in 2004, defining it as a response to situations one finds ridiculous or stupid, which has garnered over 25,000 upvotes since then.


In second place with over 400,000 average global monthly searches is the abbreviation LMAO (Laughing my a** Off). Many might have already come across this ubiquitous acronym often accompanying humorous messages and memes, but simply have no clue what the alphabets refer to exactly.


The third most confounding is TBH (To be honest), leading to an average google search of 398,200 monthly globally. Also, seeing a sharp increase of 300% in search interest over the past 12 months based on Google Trends, the abbreviation GOAT (Greatest of all time) has translated into 215,700 average monthly searches worldwide for its meaning, positioning it in 11th place.


Following the new norm of people working from home since the pandemic, sitting in  9th and 15th place, are the abbreviations AFK (Away from keyboard) and BBL (Be back later) with average global searches of 266,600 and 166,100 per month respectively. Often used in the gaming terrain as well, this is to let whoever at the other end of the screen know that you will be temporarily inactive.


  1. trawled through a range of articles from reputable sites like Reader’s Digest, Preply, YourDictionary and more, to collate a seed list of 100 most commonly used text messaging abbreviations. 
  2. Utilising online analytics tool Ahrefs, identified the top 35 most googled text abbreviations for their meanings, using search phrases like “xx meaning”, “what does xx mean” and ‘xx definition’ for each item on the list.
  3. Having identified their global average monthly search volumes, each abbreviation was then ranked from highest to lowest.
  4. All data was collected on 04/10/2021 and is accurate as of then.