What Does MLM Mean in a Text?

mlm is an emoticon for "flipping the bird" (i.e., giving someone the middle-finger gesture). Note that mlm only works as an emoticon when typed with lowercase letters.

MLM is also an abbreviation used with the meanings "Multi-Level Marketing," "Man Loves Men," and "Muslim Lives Matter." Here is more information about each of these definitions, together with examples of use.

Middle Finger (Emoticon)

When typed in lowercase (i.e., as "mlm"), the abbreviation MLM is an emoticon, which represents the offensive gesture of raising the middle finger and "flipping the bird." For example:
  • Sam: Have you two split up for good this time?
  • Jo: I guess so. When I suggested we go for coffee, she sent me mlm.
It is believed that the raising of the middle finger has been used as an insult since at least the 5th Century BCE. The earliest recorded mention is in the Greek play "The Clouds," written by Aristophanes, in 423 BCE.

Video Summarizing MLM

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

Multi-Level Marketing

As an abbreviation, MLM is most widely used with the meaning "Multi-Level Marketing." In this context, MLM refers to a form of selling in which the company requires its distributors to recruit their own sub-distributors. Each distributor is compensated for the sales they make and also gets a percentage of the revenue generated by the sub-distributors that they recruit. For example:
  • Ali: Dave has offered me a business opportunity that seems brilliant. I'm gonna be rich!
  • Rick: It's an MLM scam. They don't work.
This type of business is often referred to as "Pyramid Selling" and is illegal in many countries.

Man Loves Men

MLM is used in dating circles with the meaning "Man Loves Men" (or "Man Loving Men" or "Man Loving Man"), to refer to men and male-aligned non-binary people who are attracted to men or male-aligned non-binary people. (See also WLW ("Woman Loves Women."))

Muslim Lives Matter

In response to the popularity of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement, MLM is now also used with the meaning "Muslim Lives Matter," as a way of drawing attention to the plight of Muslims throughout the world. (Especially to the genocide of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the treatment of the Uighur Muslims in China.)

Image for MLM

When I write MLM, I mean this:

meaning of MLM

As an abbreviation, MLM usually means "Multi-Level Marketing," "Man Loves Men," or "Muslim Lives Matter."

Summary of Key Points

First Definition for MLM

When typed in lowercase, mlm means "Middle Finger (Emoticon)". This is a common definition for mlm on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, and X (Twitter).
Definition:Middle Finger (Emoticon)
Guessability:guessability level 4
4: Difficult to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Second Definition for MLM

MLM also means "Multi-Level Marketing."
Definition:Multi-Level Marketing
Guessability:guessability level 3

3: Guessable

Typical Users:typical user


Third Definition for MLM

In dating related chat MLM means "Man Loves Men."
Definition:Man Loves Men
Guessability:guessability level 4

4: Difficult to guess

Typical Users:typical user


Fourth Definition for MLM

MLM also means "Muslim Lives Matter."
Definition:Muslim Lives Matter
Guessability:guessability level 3

3: Guessable

Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

An Academic Look at MLM

When used to represent the "Middle Finger (Emoticon)", MLM uses lower case letters (mlm) as a graphic to represent an offensive gesture. It is an emoticon (i.e., a combination of keyboard characters used to express an emotion).

When used with the meanings "Multi-Level Marketing," "Man Loves Men," or "Muslim Lives Matter," MLM is pronounced using its individual letters (i.e., "Emm Ell Emm"). Therefore, it is classified as an initialism abbreviation. Initialisms are different to acronyms, which are spoken like words.

What Did We Say before Texting and Social Media?

Before the digital era, we would have had to "flip the bird" face-to-face, instead of using the abbreviation MLM to represent the "Middle Finger (Emoticon)."

The use of MLM to mean "Multi-Level Marketing" has been widely used in business circles since before the digital era.

Example of MLM 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 (+)