What Does TBR Mean in a Text?

TBR means "To Be Read," "To Be Real," or "To Be Rude."

To Be Read

On reading-related apps, forums, and websites (such as BookTok), the abbreviation TBR is often used when discussing a list of books that someone plans to read in the future. In this context TBR means "To Be Read." For example:
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie - TBR (but let's be honest, who needs friends when you have books?)
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson - TBR (but I already don't give a f*ck, so do I really need to read this?)

To Be Real / To Be Rude

TBR is also used with the meaning "To Be Real" or "To Be Rude," to emphasize that the opinion being expressed is honest and truthful. In this context, TBR is often used to introduce a frank opinion.

As with many other phrases which offer opinion, TBR is often used by people with passive-aggressive personalities (i.e., people who mask their controlling or aggressive nature by using non-emotive and non-confrontational language). For example:
  • Jo: Do you think she will go out with me?
  • Sam: TBR, I think she's more likely to report you for stalking her.
  • Ali: I'm really looking forward to the party on Saturday!
  • Lee: TBR, I can't think of anything I would rather not do.
Other abbreviations with similar meanings to TBR, include:

Image for TBR

When I write TBR, I mean this:

meaning of TBR

TBR also means "To Be Rude" and "To Be Read."

Summary of Key Points for First Definition for TBR

"To Be Read" is the most common definition for TBR on reading-related apps, forums and websites.
Definition:To Be Read
Guessability:guessability level 2
2: Quite easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Summary of Key Points for Second Definition for TBR

"To Be Real" and "To Be Rude" are other common definitions for TBR on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Definition:To Be Real, To Be Rude
Guessability:guessability level 2
2: Quite easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

An Academic Look at TBR

As it is pronounced using its individual letters (i.e., "Tee Bee Arr"), TBR is classified as an initialism abbreviation. Initialisms are different to acronyms, which are spoken like words.

"To Be Real" and "To Be Rude" are slang phrases used with the meaning "To Be Honest." Slang refers to words, phrases and uses of language that are regarded as very informal and which are often restricted to a special context or a particular group of users.

What Did We Say before Texting and Social Media?

Before the digital era, we might have just said "To Be Real" or "To Be Rude," or something like "To Be Honest" or "To Be Fair" instead of using the abbreviation TBR.

Example of TBR Used in a Text

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