These days, people online use all sorts of terms that most of us probably don’t understand. And one of these words that has recently come to our attention is LULW. Today, I want to break down what it means and how it came into existence.
At the end, you’ll know a bit more about online lingo.
LULW is the word “lol” spelt phonetically and said in a light-hearted, and friendly voice. It first came about through the social media website “Twitch”. Originally it was the name of a picture of YouTuber TotalBiscuit laughing.
Let’s take a look at how we went from laughing to “LULW”.
What is Twitch?
Firstly, let’s take a look at where it comes from, Twitch.
As most of us can agree, social media has played a considerable part in our lives. Particularly since the pandemic, many have relied on it for entertainment, socialising, and even keeping updated with the news.
What separates Twitch from all the other social media platforms is that Twitch is exclusively for people who enjoy video games. On the website, people can stream themselves playing video games, or watch others playing. This has created a worldwide community of people who like to play video games.
Why is Twitch so popular
The main reason for Twitch being popular is it’s focus on gamers. Other social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube welcome everyone, no matter what they’re into. However, Twitch has provided a space for people who like video games, free form judgement or ridicule.
In the past, videos of others playing video games were popular on YouTube. But in recent years, YouTube has been seen as “too corporate”. Recommendations are people who pay the most, rather than those viewers will actually enjoy.
Some say the fall of YouTube happened when the Indian corporation “T-Series” overtook gamer “PewDiePie” as the most subscribed to channel.
What is a Twitch Emote?
One of Twitch’s features is the “Twitch Chat”, where gamers from all over the world can discuss video games with one another. And one of the features of “Twitch Chat” is the Twitch Emotes.
A Twitch Emote is a picture (usually funny) that conveys a message of some sort. They are a way to lighten up the conversation and make it feel like a regular chat among friends rather than a serious discussion about video games.
In the beginning, “LULW” was the name of a Twitch Emote.
The Origin of LUWL of Twitch
To send “LULW”, users would have to download the “FrankerFaceZ” extension- an extension for Twitch chat to allow them to access more images.
The man in the image was TotalBiscuit, known to his mother as John Bain. He is a British gamer who was popular on YouTube when it was flooded with people playing video games.
In the image, he is seen to be laughing at something.
Twitch users felt that his face in the picture conveyed how they would feel when they find something funny.
Since then, instead of sending the image, people started saying its name “LULW”.
Where we get the slang we use from
Personally, I find the whole idea of “Twitch Slang” to be rather interesting.
The words we use come from our environment. When we hear people starting to use a new word, we will pick it up ourselves. Certain words are only used by particular communities.
For example, Wae’aye is used in Newcastle, and Wee Lassie in Scotland.
Words like “bobby” are used by people of certain classes more than certain areas.
However, thanks to the internet, gone are the days when our communities were determined by where we lived or our social class.
Slang from other online communities
Other online communities have created their own words, mostly unknown to the outside of these communities.
The internet has allowed these slang terms to spread much quicker.
The fitness community will refer to building muscle as “making gains”, and being muscular as “swole”.
People who like anime might say “uwu” when they’re happy. When you look at the word “UwU”, it looks like a cute animal with its eyes closed. They might also say “Kawaii” to mean cute.
The Incel community has created lots of words, including Chad, Stacey, and Normie.
All these terms came about by people with a common interest forming their own communities, and allowing language to evolve naturally.
How LOL became LULW
Why we used to say “lol”
As mentioned at the start, “LULW” comes from “lol”. It’s how many of us used to show that we found something funny. But why did we say “lol”?
It stems from when phones had a limited number of keys, and writing long words would take a long time. As a result, we created many words that used the minimum number of letters.
LOL- laugh out out
BRB- Be right back
“LOL” is probably one of the most iconic words in “texting slang”.
Why we no longer say “lol”
The main reason for “lol” dying is that phones got proper keyboards. Now that we no longer had to press the same button several times for the letter we wanted, we can type out the word we want in full.
Another reason is snobby people would often mock and stick their noses up at “lol”. As a result, people became too embarrassed to use it.
But another key reason is that phones started to use emojis. Rather than using words to show you found something funny, you could just send an emoji of laughter.
Today, it’s rare for anyone younger than 30 to say “lol”.
The evolution of LOL
The start of “LOL” was when phones came with a limited number of buttons and no touch screen. It was a quick and easy way to show laughter.
When phone keyboards got better, people started tying out “ahahahaha”. This is what you would say if you were physically laughing.
And today, the most popular way to show that you find something funny is to send the emoji of the guy laughing so much he’s crying.
Perhaps in the future, there will be another way of showing laughter through the screen. I wonder what it will be.
How old are abbreviations?
You might be thinking that abbreviations are new(ish) things. But they’ve been part of our language for a long time.
If you’re doing fine, you might say “I’m OK”. This word is an abbreviation for “Oll Korrect”. It was first used in 1839 in a funny cartoon in the Boston Morning Post.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is often shortened to “UK”. And the United States of America is “USA”.
One term that is older than you thought was “OMG”. The first recorded use of this was in a letter to Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Other examples of Twitch slang
“LULW” isn’t the only term that came about through Twitch. Here are a few more examples.
“Poggers“, something you say when you’re in a good mood, similar to “Yippee”.
“We’re going to McDonalds? Poggers!”
“MonkaS”, a sign of confusion, similar to “What?”.
“So you got back with him after he cheated on you? MonkaS”
“BibleThump”, something to say when you’re sad or upset.
“I miss you. BibleThump”
I understand that for most of you, these phrases will mean nothing. But for people who regularly use Twitch, they are common ways of talking to other people.
Examples of LUWL in a sentence
“This morning, I accidentally put salt in my coffee instead of sugar. LULW”
“That joke you said last night was super LULW.”
“If you take that potion, you’ll turn into a frog. LULW”
Lettuce in! It’s cold out here!
As we can see, these example sentences all convey a strong sense of humour and joking around. Rather than writing “LOL”, we have spelt it out phonetically.
What’s great about “LULW” is that it’s currently only being used by specific communities, making it harder for non-gamers to understand what they’re saying.
Alternatives to LOL and LULW
If you don’t want to say “LOL” through text, your three other options are phonetic laughter, Emojis, and GIFs.
Phonetic laughter is usually “ahahaha”, but you can say “pahaha” when something is super funny. For evil laughter “mwahaha”.
The most common emoji used to convey laughter is the one where he’s laughing till he cries. But there are plenty of others. There’s one where he’s on his side, one where he has his eyes closed, and the ones where he’s crying with laughter on his side.
Some messaging services will even allow you to send a “GIF”, a moving image. These will usually be from films or TV shows, reality tv is where many laughing GIFs come from.
“LULW” has the same meaning as “lol”, but is spelt out phonetically, abandoning the abbreviations.
It was created on Twitch and is commonly used among users of the website.
It goes to show how the communities we’re part of can change our dialect. But it also shows how “community” is no longer defined by class or geography.
Twitch is the only social media platform exclusively for gamers, causing it to be one of the most popular places they flock to.
Hopefully now, when your children say “LULW” to you, you’ll have a better idea of what on Earth they’re talking about.