What Does 86 Mean in a Text?

86 usually means "to get rid of or delete something," but it can also mean "you made a fortune." Read on to find out why and to avoid making an embarrassing mistake!

To Get Rid of or Delete Something

86 usually means to get rid of or delete something

Prohibition Era Origins? Usually in text messaging, the number 86 is used as a code to mean "to get rid of or delete something." It is thought to have derived from a speakeasy (an illegal drinking den during the time of prohibition) called Chumley's located at 86, Bedford Street, New York City. Chumley's had an adjoining courtyard, which provided customers with privacy when arriving or leaving the building. At that time, it was not unusual for the police to be on the payroll of a bar, and they would forewarn the bar owners of imminent police raids. On receiving such a warning, the bartender of Chumley's would issue the command "86 everybody!" and customers would leave via the 86 Bedford Street entrance to avoid the police, who (by prior arrangement) would arrive through the adjoining courtyard door.

Restaurant Trade. In a similar context, the number 86 is widely used in the restaurant trade when an item on the menu is no longer available. For example:
  • "86 the vegan sausages." (We have run out of vegan sausages, cross them off the menu.)
Personal Relationships. It is also used in dating and other social contexts. If you've been "86'd," you've been dumped, dropped or left out. For example:
  • "86 Ali and go out with Jo for the night."
  • "We should 86 Sam and Lee. They are the weak links."

Image for 86

When I write 86, I probably mean this:

meaning of 86

The most popular definition of 86 is "to get rid of or delete something."

You Made a Fortune

86 also means you made a fortune

The number 86 is also used as a form of internet slang or shorthand in text messages and online chats in Chinese-speaking communities. When it is read aloud in Chinese, it sounds similar to the words 你发了, which translate as "You made a fortune." Chinese chat codes such as the number 86 have become highly popular, not only in countries where Chinese characters are used, but also in countries with different alphabets. For example:

  • Terri: "I won $10,000 on the scratch card!"
  • Jordan: "Congratulations! 86!
Check out our page on Chinese chat codes for more.

Image for 86

When I write 86, I could also mean this:

meaning of 86

When the number 86 is read aloud in Chinese, it sounds like the words 你发了.

Summary of Key Points for First Definition

"TTo Get Rid of or Delete Something" is the most common definition for 86 on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Definition:To Get Rid of or Delete Something
Guessability:guessability level 5
5: Extremely difficult to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Summary of Key Points for Second Definition

The Chinese phrase 你发了, which translates as "You made a fortune," is another definition for 86.
Definition:你发了 (You made a fortune)
Guessability:guessability level 1

1: Easy to guess (if you understand Chinese, else virtually impossible)

Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

An Academic Look at 86

86 is a numeronym, which is an abbreviation made up of just numbers or of letters and numbers.

Numeronyms can be formed in various ways, such as:
  • Shortening a word by replacing a sequence of letters with the count of those letters (e.g., i18n for "internationalization" and a11y for "accessibility").
  • Combining letters and numbers (e.g, K9 for "canine" and W3 for "World Wide Web").
  • Using numbers to represent letters or words (e.g., 143 for "I love you," 637 for "always and forever," and 5201314 for "I will love you for a lifetime").
Numeronyms were used long before the digital era. Many of the early ones were written on the envelopes of letters between lovers. They were often a coded message between the sender and the recipient, thought to allow secret expressions of love or passion.

86 is typically used as a verb (i.e. a doing word). For example:
  • She 86ed her boyfriend.
  • (Here, 86 is being used as a verb.)
It can also be used as an imperative verb (i.e., an order). For example:

Using Numbers in Texts

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

Example of 86 Used in a Text

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