What Does 101 Mean in a Text?

101 means "Basic Introduction (as in English 101)" or "Laugh Out Loud." It can also refer to "Room 101" (from George Orwell's book 1984).

Basic Introduction or Starter's Guide

"101" is used with a course name to show the course is a starter's guide (for example, "Astronomy 101" would be a course covering the basics of Astronomy).

The term "101" derives from the late 1920s, when US universities designed a numbering system for their lessons. The notation "101" breaks down as follows:
  • 1. The first "1" denotes the studying year. So, this is a first-year lesson.
  • 0. The "0" denotes the specific topic (with "0" being generic).
  • 1. The last "1" denotes the first lesson in the sequence.
Using this system, "Astronomy 213" would be the third lesson on topic "1" (let's say, stars) for second-year students.

By the 1980s, "101" had moved from academic institutional jargon and into popular slang. The term "101" now simply means "a starter's guide."

Laugh Out Loud

"101" can be used to mean LOL (Laugh Out Loud), simply because the numbers look like the letters.

Somewhat more imaginatively, 5 is also used for LOL because "101" in binary is 5. Even more imaginatively, 120 is sometimes used for "LOL!" because, in Mathematics, 5! is equivalent to 120. (NB: 5! represents "5 factorial," which is 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1.)

Room 101

"Room 101" is the name for the basement torture chamber in the "Ministry of Love" (from George Orwell's 1949 dystopian novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four"). In Room 100, prisoners are subjected to their own worst nightmares or fears in order to break down their resistance to the Oceania state and Big Brother. The Ministry of Love is not well named! It is responsible for inflicting misery and suffering to ensure loyalty to Big Brother.

Image for 101

When I write 101, I mean this:

meaning of 101

101 usually means "a starter's guide," but it can mean "LOL" or even refer to "Room 101."

Summary of Key Points

"Starter's Guide" or "Basic Introduction" (as in English 101)" is the most common definition for 101 on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Definition:Starter's Guide or Basic Introduction
Type:Numeric Notation
Guessability:guessability level 1
1: Easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Second Definition of 101

"Laugh Out Loud" is another common definition for 101 on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Definition:Laugh Out Loud (LOL)
Guessability:guessability level 3

3: Guessable

Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Third Definition of 101

101 is used with the term "Room 101," which refers to the basement torture chamber in the Ministry of Love (from "1984" by George Orwell).
Definition:Basement Torture Chamber from "1984"
Guessability:guessability level 4

4: Difficult to guess

Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Examples of 101 in Sentences

Here are examples of 101 being used in conversations:
  • Tony: Where's your rod? Did you loosen the reel tension?
  • Jordan: No, I forgot.
  • Tony: That is a basic mistake. You need to attend "Fishing 101" again!
  • (Here, "101" means a starter's guide.)
  • Alex: The cat sh*t on my mat...literally.
  • Bobby: 101.
  • (Here, "101" means "Laugh Out Loud.")
  • Jo: I'm not going to chess club or soccer practice! I need more sleep.
  • Jo's father: Do you know what Room 101 is?
  • Jo: No.
  • Jo's father: Google it! It's what your bedroom will become if you don't get up.
  • (Here, "101" refers to George Orwell's basement torture chamber in the Ministry of Love.)

Using Numbers in Texts

This video shows the different ways that numbers are used in "text speak":

The Evolution of "LOL"

This video shows the evolution of the term "LOL" and the various laughing emojis:
Read more about LOL.

Example of 101 Used in a Text

author logo

This page is maintained by the Cyber Definitions Editorial Team.

Help Us Improve Cyber Definitions

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?
  • Do you know a slang term that we've missed?
Please tell us using this form.


Try our fun quiz to test your knowledge of slang and texting abbreviations.
gold cup

gold cup

gold cup

  • This test has questions.
  • A correct answer is worth 5 points.
  • You can get up to 5 bonus points for a speedy answer.
  • Some questions demand more than one answer. You must get every part right.
  • Beware! Wrong answers score 0 points.
  • 🏆 If you beat one of the top 3 scores, you will be invited to apply for the Hall of Fame.
Scoring System

Cyber Guru (+)
Cyber Hero (+)
Cyber Captain (+)
Cyber Sergeant (+)
Cyber Recruit (+)