What Does LOL Really Mean?

How Has the Meaning of LOL Changed?

homeWhat Does LOL Really Mean?
We all know that LOL means "Laugh Out Loud," but we've learned that this definition should not be taken too literally nowadays. This page discusses the evolution of LOL and its derivatives.

It also looks at whether "Laugh Out Loud" is the grammatically correct definition (e.g., would "aloud" or "loudly" be better?).
What does LOL really mean?

LOL Shouldn't Always Be Taken Literally

One of the major issues with text messaging is the absence of tone. As a consequence, it is easy for text messages to be misinterpreted. To overcome this, people have learned to illustrate their intended meaning by including tone indicators, icons, and abbreviations, such as LOL (Laugh Out Loud).

LOL is now one of the most widely recognized abbreviations in the world. Originally it meant "What you just said made me laugh out loud." However, nowadays it should almost never be taken literally. LOL is sometimes used just to show approval, to acknowledge that something is witty, or even because the sender isn't interested enough to send a more considered response. Even worse, LOL is often used sarcastically!

Sadly for LOL, it is now also one of the least loved abbreviations in the world. Many young people avoid it altogether. Consequently, terms like ALOL (actually laughing out loud) and LLOL (literally laughing out loud) have emerged.

LOL Is an Acronym and an Abbreviation

LOL is both an acronym and an initialism. It can be pronounced like a word (i.e., as "lol") or using its individual letters (i.e., as "El Oh El"). In fact, "lol" is now so well established as a word, that it can be considered a neologism (i.e., a newly coined word or term which has emerged into everyday use).

Out Loud Is an Adverb Meaning Aloud

The expansion of LOL is not laugh out loudly. Using loudly would be a grammatical error because out loud is an adverb in its own right. (It means loudly enough to be heard.)

Out loud is very similar in meaning to the adverb aloud, which also means loudly enough to be heard but with the added connotation of more than whispering. Both out loud and aloud are quite different from loudly, which means strongly audible or even noisily.

Perhaps Laugh Should be Laughing

While lots of grammarians challenge the out loud part of LOL, the word laugh – from a grammatical perspective – ought to be the one under scrutiny.

The present participle laughing would seem a much better fit. This is based on the assumption that the whole phrase is [I am] laughing out loud. Of course, you could argue the whole phrase is something like [I have just let out a] laugh out loud, but that expansion of LOL does not sound natural.

The Evolution of LOL

This video shows the evolution of the term "LOL" and the various laughing emojis:

Complete List of Terms Related to LOL


Actually laughing out loud


Big laugh out loud


Evil laugh out loud


I Just Burst Out Laughing


Literally lol


Laughing out loud (the noun)


Funny picture of a cat


Laughed out loud (i.e. the past tense of LOL)


Laughing out loud (the noun)


Laughing out loud, okay


Laugh out loud literally


LOL, not


Lots of laughing out loud


Laugh out loud quietly


Laugh out loud with sarcasm


Laughing out loud


not LOL


Rolling on floor, laughing out loud


Rolling on the floor laughing out loud


Seriously laughing out loud


Truly laughing out loud


Laughing at somebody who is trolling


101 (looks like "LOL")


LOL! (101! = 5! = 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 120)


LOL ("101" in binary is 5 (i.e. lol))


Laugh at loud


Laugh at loud


Laugh at loud


Laugh loudly

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