Twitter Glossary: Top Terms Used On Our Favorite Social Media Network

I was shocked yesterday as I was working on some things with a client, how I could not find a comprehensive list of Twitter terms, phrases and abbreviations! So I made one.

Yes. Here are common terms, phrases and abbreviations used on Twitter.

Your Twitter bio photo.

Direct Message (or simply “message”). When two people follow each other, they have access to direct message each other. This is a valuable communication tool, because, while it is similar to texting someone, you also can reach a person at their desktop computer when they may not have their phone handy.

Similar to CC on emails, users “cc” other Twitterers at the end of a tweet to call their attention to it.

To stop a person from seeing your tweets, and from you seeing their tweets to you.

Fail Whale
When Twitter is so overloaded it cannot function, an iconic image of a whale being held by birds will appear.

This tag is used by people who have installed an application on Facebook. Tweets ending in #fb are automatically imported to Facebook, all others are ignored.

Follow Friday. Suggestions for people to follow. It is generally good form to only send one or two of these tweets on Fridays, and to explain why you are suggesting someone.

When you follow other people on Twitter, their updates will appear in your timeline (or tweetstream, or twitterstream).

Your Twitter name. Sometimes called a Twandle.

The # symbol before any word, which makes it clickable, thus searchable on Twitter. Used to create a collection of tweets for specific events, topics, or sometimes funny add-on comments for tweets. Many times hashtags are used at the end of a tweet, especially for events – but can be used mid-tweet if they flow into the thought.

Overheard. As in, I overheard someone saying something and I am going to tweet it, but not reveal the source.

When someone, whether they follow you or not, mentions you or your handle on Twitter.

Modified Tweet. For example, I am retweeting the majority of your tweet, but I have changed some of the words or meaning.

Links that are sent via DM that seem suspicious may be from an account that has been hacked. Ignore the link and you will not be infected. If you happen to click a phished link, simply change your password as soon as possible and the phishing will stop. If you send legitimate links via DM, it is a good practice to tell the receiver that it is a not a phishing link, or explain what the link is.

When a user has a “lock” symbol on their account, meaning you must request their permission to see their tweets.

Tweets, topics and users who pay to get higher visibility.

When a user answers back to another user on Twitter, usually starting with the person’s Twitter handle. Also called an “at reply” or “@ reply.”

Retweet. I like your tweet and I am going to retweet it, meaning pass it along to my followers.

Use the search function to see what people are talking about (on Twitter) in any given topic, name, hashtag, etc.

When a user tweets a link to you, but is generally not following you, and the link is for something that they are selling.

Star (Fave or Heart)
There is a star symbol next to tweets, which when checked, essentially marks a tweet for later. Also called a “fave,” starring a tweet can be used for many purposes: to remind you of a particularly interesting tweet, or to congratulate the original tweeter on an interesting or funny tweet, to name a few. The site Favstar (pronounced “favv-star,” not “fave-star”) is an aggregator for starred and retweeted tweets.

Trending Topics
The most popular subjects on Twitter at that moment. Can also be segregated by location, if Twitter supports your location.

A single update on Twitter.

Tweetstream & Twitterstream
Main flow of tweets form people you are following. Also called Timeline.

An in real life gathering of Twitter friends.

Twitter Party
An arranged virtual party, generally arranged by a blog or brand, where Twitterers gather at a certain time to discuss a specific topic.

URL Shortener
Tool to make URL’s smaller, and thus easier to fit in a 140-character tweet.

Used when a link or thought comes from someone else and the Tweeter is giving credit. Hat Tip (HT) – sometimes called “heard through” – does the same.

There you have it.
What other terms should be on the list?

This article has 7 comments

  1. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Oh, great addition – the Fave or Star a tweet.

  2. JoAnn

    When I was new to twitter, I wasn’t sure what “star” meant. Now, that all seems so long ago!

    I LOVE this list, by the way. In fact, I RT’d it. 😉

  3. zipper

    I am not in twitter so I don’t know these and now I am even more scared!!!

  4. Everyfann

    THANK YOU THANK YOU! I am so clueless on Twitter. I mainly started on there to stalk people.

  5. Anonymous

    Twittereaha: Tweeting way too many times in an hour/day/week.

  6. Jamie

    Just found this on Google – THANK YOU! I didn’t know half of these.

  7. Dianne Christopher

    Thanks for the tutorial! Very helpful!

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