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ICYMI: Deciphering The Acronyms In Your Work Email

As more millennials join the work force, the more casual workplaces become. But is it acceptable to use slang in your professional emails?

The office environment has always been understood to be a place where polite, diplomatic, and professional language ruled. But with the recent surge of the millennial generation becoming part of the workforce—and who have now become so adept at tech use—language has evolved significantly to suit their whims and mindsets. The question now is: Should the workplace accommodate their oft-confusing prose?

Times may have changed since a decade ago, but work language should remain professional. While certain subtleties in language will change over time (today’s terse work emails vastly differ from the more verbose work letters exchanged in the mid-20th century), most etiquette experts agree that slang acronyms should almost never be used in the workplace and your professional email correspondence.

There are some exceptions, as Lonjino Lozcano, a consultant for Deloitte & Touche LLP, wrote for LinkedIn: “When is it appropriate to use slang [at work]? The answer is simple: Whenever someone is able to understand you and you can strengthen your message.” For example: You can call your peer-level colleague “fam” (that’s “family”) while conversing over lunch, and developing good rapport with her. But Lozcano adds, “Needless to say, I am more careful when I use slang with clients, executives, etc. I tactfully manage my communication to move upward in my career.”

Here are some millennial slang words that may have crept up in a work email or two, and what they mean:


“In case you missed it.” Acronyms are especially popular nowadays with text messaging as a foremost medium for communicating with your team. While this is okay to use among same-level coworkers over SMS, try to avoid using it in email or (worse) in actual conversation, particularly when higher-ups or clients are looped in.


“As f*ck” (pardon our French), and roughly translates to “very” or “really.” We cannot think of any reason why anyone should ever use this at work.


“On point,” or “flawless.” It’s normally used as a compliment, and may also be used to describe, for example, someone’s report or presentation: “His sales projections are truly on fleek.” You run the risk of having to explain yourself to older colleagues though, so best keep this phrase in reference to eyebrows or an office BFF’s outfit.


When writing everyday work emails, do you use phrases like those next to the ❌s in the above chart? Or, do you often use exclamation marks and smiley faces? I know I have. . What many people, especially women, might not realize is that the need to preemptively apologize, soften requests or come across as very approachable in work emails might reflect a lack of confidence, might come across as unprofessional, and might make you prone to getting walked all over. . This handy resource, created by designer and illustrator @danidonovan, can help women come across as confident and boss-like in their emails 👩🏻‍💻. Simply replace a phrase in the ❌ category to the matching ✅ one instead. . As part of her rationale for creating it, Donovan reminds women that: “You are allowed to take up space. Your voice deserves to be heard. Your opinions matter. You don’t need to apologize for existing or asking for what you need. You are not ‘bossy’ or ‘bitchy’ for not sounding like a pep-machine 24/7.” . So, turn around the tone of your emails starting now. Screen cap the chart so that you can easily access it today and in the future. Even better, print it out and put it near your computer 📌. . Which ❌ phrase do you use the most? Share in the comments. . . #email #emailsuccess #womenatwork #workemails #professionalcommunication #communication #bosslady #bossbabe #momsatwork #careerwomen #confidenceatwork #danidonovan #pencilskirtsandpunctuation

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“Too long; didn’t read.” In an environment where attention to detail and meticulousness is prized, saying this in any communication medium will definitely not get anyone plus points with their supervisor.


“Not safe for work.” If you ever receive an email with this subject heading, don’t open it! This is particularly important if you work in an open office without walls or cubicles.

READ: How To Deal With A Problem Employee


Used when one looks or does something that is spectacular and out of the ordinary, as in “You totally slayed your presentation!” Perfect for high-five moments with your team.


Short for “babe,” or an acronym for “before anything/one else.” We all know that office relationships are generally shunned in the workplace, so in order to not get in trouble with HR, keep this word out of your office vocab.


Short for “very”, as in “v. late” or “v. good.” Millennials aren’t the only ones using this slang, um, letter, as even boomers and Gen-Xers also used to shorten their work emails on BlackBerries and Treos. (Remember those?)


This actually had a centuries-old meaning of being inebriated (shift + F7: “drunk”), but nowadays, it just simply means “exciting” or even “excellent.” To say “The office Christmas party was lit” totally comes to mind.

This article originally appeared in Working Mom (Aug-Sept 2017).  Minor changes have been made for Metro.Style.