online English

LOL? But it wasn’t funny

We get a few people looking up acronyms and initialisms used in emails and text messages, but there was a massive surge in look-ups for LOL on 3rd January. In the space of 24 hours, the number of searches went from virtually zero to 1,000, and then just as quickly subsided to former levels.

The dictionary gives two uses of LOL. One is “laughing out loud”, and the other is “lots of love”, typically used at the end of an email or text message. It’s probably useful to know, when you are emailing or texting someone, which use of LOL that person is familiar with. Sometimes it might not matter, but at other times it could be quite a problem.

There is a possibly apocryphal but nonetheless perfectly plausible story of someone sending an email to a friend, commiserating on the death of the friend’s mother:

So sorry to hear your mother passed away. LOL.

As you can imagine, there was no reply to the email.

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Stephen Bullon

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