A WOMAN uses her smartphone.
A WOMAN uses her smartphone.

A guide to SA and international internet slang

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Sep 11, 2021

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THE internet has taken over. Not in a Skynet kind of way, more in a “the-internet-has-changed-the-way-we-communicate” kind of way.

Internet slang is common on all social media platforms – except Facebook, where everyone suddenly becomes a medical or political expert. However, just because it is common, that doesn’t mean everyone knows what all these terms stand for.

What does FYP mean? Is TL;DR some code? We break down what they all mean in this quick guide to the internet.

#fyp - For You Page

When scrolling through TikTok, you might find the hashtag #fyp on most of the videos – usually dances and meme videos. The hashtag #fyp stands for “For You page”. The For You page is essentially TikTok's recommendation feed. This recommendation feed is is personalised to each user, depending on how that user interacts with videos on TikTok. Users add the hashtag to gain more reach.

#xyzbca - It doesn’t stand for anything

A bit like #fyp, TikTok users add #xyzbca hashtag to gain more views on their videos. However, unlike the #fyp hashtag, the #xyzbca hashtag doesn’t stand for anything and is just a popular hashtag.

TL;DR - Too Long; Didn’t Read

Do you know that feeling when you are reading a post and you don’t have the energy and commitment to read everything, but you want still want to know what it was about? That’s where TL;DR – sometimes further shortened as tldr – comes in.

TL;DR is basically asking other people for a summary. So if someone says “TL;DR please” it means they want a summary of the post or message because they had the audacity to not read everything.

NGL - Not Gonna Lie

No, my fellow South African, it does not stand for “nogal”. NGL stands for “Not gonna lie”. It’s usually used when you are about to admit something that will make you (and probably the next person) feel a bit awkward. So NGL is like a disclaimer to say “Listen here, this might be awkward, but here we go.”

HIFW - How I feel when

HIFW stands for “How I feel When”, because clearly no-one has time to write out the the full thing. It’s straightfoward and is often used when you want to describe the feeling you get when something happened to you. It’s normally used in a caption of an image or video.

TFW - That feel when

Just to be clear, “feel” in this case is the noun, as in “feeling”, but it is shortened. Similar to HIFW, TFW is used when you want to express your happiness, disappointment or sadness about something that happened.

SMH - Shaking my head

You will see “SMH” being in response to someone saying something either hilarious or ridiculous. For example: “That is really embarrassing SMH.”

WFH - Work from Home

While not only used by the youth, “WFH” (which stands for “Work from home”) has been commonly used during the Covid-19 pandemic, as many found themselves working from home to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions.

South African internet slang

South Africans mostly use international slang, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have internet slang. These a few words used by South African internet users.


The phrase “sbwl” is a slang term that comes from the Xhosa language. It originates from the word “sabaweli”, which means crave. This term is normally used for things that one cannot have.

Same WhatsApp Group

WhatsApp might have users across the globe, but we have an interesting way of saying when people are alike or on the same page. Instead of saying people are similar we say “They are in the same WhatsApp group.”

It is usually used to compare a similar quality or action that people share.


You will see this when someone is irritated or frustrated. This is because “mxm” and “mcim” is used to show that you are clicking your tongue.


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