What Does 831 Mean in a Text?

Expressing Love in a Text

There are over 100 novel ways to express love in a text message. Some of them were invented by the iKids (i.e., Millennials, Generation Z, and Generation A), making them just a few decades old, but many of them have been around for centuries. Here's the one that matters to you: In text chat, 831 usually means "I love you." In Malaysia, it is also widely used to refer to the date August 31 (Malaysian Independence Day).

I Love You

image for 831 saying I love you

The number 831 seems to be a complicated and obscure way of saying "I love you." After all, we already have obvious abbreviations, such as ILU and ILY. However, when you break it down, it's actually quite clever and kind of cute! This is how it works:

Each individual number has a specific definition:
  • 8 = The total number of letters in the phrase "I love you."
  • 3 = The total number of words in the phrase "I love you."
  • 1 = The one meaning of the whole number.
Numeronyms such as this offer a playful way to express feelings or complex emotions quickly and often in a less direct manner. Their use can make the expression of deep or serious feelings seem more casual or less intimidating. They can therefore serve as a sort of emotional shorthand that tempers the impact of actually saying those "three magic words" - whether that's to avoid fully confronting one's own feelings, to play it cool, or to avoid potential embarrassment in overt emotional exposure. All of this might make it easier for the sender to convey their feelings, without the vulnerability of spelling them out. However, the use of numeronyms might also suggest a lower level of sincerity or commitment. Texting 831 might not carry the same weight as saying "I love you," and this can be intentional. Additionally, using numeronyms and other abbreviations signals inclusion in a particular community or understanding of digital culture, things that may be shared by partners, or used to poke gentle fun at each other. There are many other numbers with the same or similar meanings, including 143, 381 (of course!) and 721. For added emphasis, numeronyms like 831 are often paired with others, such as 224 ("Today, Tomorrow, Forever"). A typical response might simply involve adding the number "2" to the end of the abbreviation to represent the word "too." For example:
  • Ali: 831224 babe.
  • Sam: What?!
  • Ali: Ermm, I love you. 831224 means I love you today, tomorrow, forever.
  • Sam: Oh! Thanks babe. 8312242.
Beware! If using numeronyms to express devotion may be interpreted as insincere, repeating the number and adding the number two may be interpreted as very insincere!

Check out our page on using numbers to say words.

August 31

image for 831 of the Malaysian flag

In Malaysia, 831 (or 8/31) can mean August 31. (In the same way that 9/11 means September 11 in the US.) It commemorates the day in 1957 when Malaya's British colonial ties were severed. Streets fill with the jubilant throngs, patriotic songs, and a kaleidoscope of cultural performances, while the "Jalur Gemilang" flag proudly flutters, symbolizing unity and the country's strides towards progress and harmony.

Video Summarizing 831

Here is a short video summarizing how the numeronym 831 works:

Image for 831

When I write 831, I mean this:

meaning of 831

831 also means August 31, and is a national holiday in Malaysia.

Summary of Key Points

First Definition of 831

"I Love You" (8 letters, 3 words, 1 meaning) is, by far, the most common meaning for 831 when it is used in a text. (Bear in mind that it could have another meaning if used in a different context.)
Definition:I Love You (8 letters, 3 words, 1 meaning)
Guessability:guessability level 3

3: Guessable

Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Second Definition of 831

In Malaysia, 831 usually means "August 31."
Definition:August 31
Guessability:guessability level 3

3: Guessable

Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

An Academic Look at 831

an academic look at 831

831 is a numeronym, which is an abbreviation made up of just numbers or of letters and numbers. Numeronyms can be formed in various ways, such as:

  • Shortening a word by replacing a sequence of letters with the count of those letters (e.g., i18n for "internationalization" and a11y for "accessibility").
  • Combining letters and numbers (e.g, K9 for "canine" and W3 for "World Wide Web").
  • Using numbers to represent letters or words (e.g., 143 for "I love you," 637 for "always and forever," and 5201314 for "I will love you for a lifetime").
Numeronyms were used long before the digital era. Many of the early ones were written on the envelopes of letters between lovers. They were often a coded message between the sender and the recipient, thought to allow secret expressions of love or passion.

Using Numbers in Texts

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

Example of 831 Used in a Text

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