What Does 143 Mean in a Text?

143 means "I love you." It is a common way to express love in texts or messaging apps. The individual numbers in "143" represent the number of letters in the words.
  • "I" = 1
  • "love" = 4
  • "you" = 3
Of course, using numbers in this way helps with brevity, but, nowadays, this is not the main reason terms like 143 are used. Specifically, 143 tends to be used for three reasons. Firstly, it allows the sender to say "I love you" without suffering the embarrassment of saying those "three magic words." Secondly, it is still a secretive way of expressing love, and, thirdly, it is a fun and modern way to take the edge of otherwise poignant words.

The Origin of 143

Minot's Ledge Light House 143

According to popular belief1, the association of "143" with "I love you" is rooted back in 1894, when a new flashing lantern was installed in Minot's Ledge lighthouse off the coast of Massachusetts (near Boston Harbor). The lighthouse flash sequence was 1-4-3. Some years later (circa 1915), when Winfield Scott Thompson was the lighthouse keeper at Minot's Ledge, his wife told their children, who could see the lighthouse flashing at night, that it was the "I love you" flash. She told them it was their father's way of saying he loved them. The tale has proven so popular that the Minot's Ledge lighthouse is still nicknamed the "I Love You Lighthouse."

143 Before the Internet

pager 143

143 was used as digital shorthand for "I love you" long before the spread of the internet and messaging apps. In the late 1980s, many people carried text-enabled pagers, which were small handheld devices that used the fledgling analogue-radio, mobile telephone network to send short text messages. Compiling a message on a pager was fiddly and the character count was brutally restrictive. As a result, users quickly invented brevity codes to save time and space. 143 was the code for "I love you" on pagers, and this was its first use in the "digital" era.

143 in a Conversation

Here is an example of 143 and other numeronyms in a conversation:
  • Toni: 143.
  • Jo: 1422.
  • Toni: I think you meant 1432 (I love you too.)
  • Jo: No, I meant 1422 (I love me too!)

143 Is a Numeronym

When used like this, numbers like 143 are known as "numeronyms," which are effectively abbreviations using numbers. Using numeronyms in this way is still highly popular in internet slang, despite the rise of emojis. Other common ways of expressing love with numbers include:

Video Summarizing 143

Here's a short video explaining how to use 143:

Image for 143

When I write 143, I mean this:

meaning of 143

I (1) Love (4) You (3).

Summary of Key Points

"I Love You" is the most common definition for 143 on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Definition:I Love You
Guessability:guessability level 3
3: Guessable (if you understand how numeronyms work, else it would be difficult to guess)
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Using Numbers in Texts

This video shows the different ways that numbers are used in "text speak":

Example of 143 Used in a Text

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