What Does IRL Mean?   

With the rise of social media, there has come a new language of text message slang and abbreviations. Common text acronyms like LOL, WYD, and BFF are widely understood, but it can be hard to keep up with constantly updating text-speak. One acronym you may not know is IRL.


The Meaning of IRL

IRL simply means “in real life”. It is an abbreviation used to distinguish things happening in reality from those in the internet world. Nowadays, the term is popular on the internet and many people use it to describe people, activities, interactions, and events. Many a time, IRL describes interactions occurring offline.


IRL vs Online Life

On online forums, the initialism IRL means not on the internet. For example, an internet user may say that he or she has met someone IRL, alluding to literally encountering that person at a physical location. Online, IRL emerged during the early Internet days when people realised that they needed to distinguish things happening offline from those happening online.   

Remember, the internet came with many ways of people expressing an alternate picture of themselves. Consequently, there was a need to tell apart internet life from real life. People originally used in real life, and eventually it transformed into IRL. 

How to Use IRL

First, you ought to realize that IRL is slang and is inappropriate in conventional writing. Formally, you can replace it with in reality or its full meaning, in real life. You can use IRL in caps or lowercase – the meaning doesn’t change. Make sure that you use this phrase only when pointing out things happening in a different environment from the one you are in. Here are some examples:  

    1. Mary retouched her Instagram pictures: she has less hair IRL   


    1. Have you met him IRL? He’s very polite.   


    1. Let’s stop texting and hang IRL.   

Written by Erin

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