What Does IRL Mean in a Text?

IRL means "In Real Life."

The abbreviation IRL is used with the meaning "In Real Life" to differentiate between the virtual world (i.e., the internet) and reality. It can also be used to differentiate between actors' characters and the actors themselves. For example:
  • Tony: I now have 1000 Facebook friends!
  • Jordan: All you need now is some friends IRL.
  • (Here, IRL is used to differentiate between the online world and reality.)
  • He seems such a lovely guy on screen, but he is a horrible person IRL.
  • (Here, IRL is used to differentiate between an actress's character and the actress himself.)

Video Summarizing IRL

Here's a short video explaining how to use IRL:

Image for IRL

When I write IRL, I mean this:

meaning of IRL

Some things can be a real let-down in real life.

Summary of Key Points

"In Real Life" is the most common definition for IRL on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Definition:In Real Life
Guessability:guessability level 4
4: Difficult to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

An Academic Look at IRL

IRL is a prepositional phrase (the preposition is in), which is used as an adverb to establish the setting for the main clause. Compare the examples below:
  • In York, you can still legally shoot a Scotsman with a bow.
  • (Here, the prepositional phrase In York is an adverb of place.)
  • IRL, you'll be sent to prison.
  • (Here, IRL is also an adverb of place but it serves like an adverb of concession, which is similar in meaning to In real life though.)
IRL is an initialism abbreviation. This means it is pronounced using its individual letters (i.e., Aye Ar Ell). Initialisms contrast with acronyms, which are spoken like words.

Example of IRL Used in a Text

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