What Does W/O Mean?

W/O means "Without."

The abbreviation W/O (usually typed w/o) is used to replace the word "without," as in "minus" or "not accompanied by."

Although its origin is contested, w/o has been used at least since the rise of the fast-food industry in the 1950s, when, as a form of shorthand to save time when writing down food orders, waiters replaced the words "with" and "without" with the abbreviations w/ and w/o.

Since that time, the use of w/o as an abbreviation of "with" has become much more widely used. For example:
  • Sam: If you can go to the gym w/o posting about it, you are instantly hired by the CIA.
  • Ali: I always tell people when I've been to the gym though.
  • Sam: Exactly.
  • Bernie: Are you going w/o Jo tonight?
  • Lee: No, but I'll be going w/o you!

Image for W/O

When I write W/O, I mean this: meaning of W/O W/O means something or someone is absent (in this case without makeup).

Summary of Key Points

"Without" is the most common definition for W/O on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
2: Quite easy to guess
Typical Users:
Adults and Teenagers


An Academic Look at W/O

W/O is classified as a cyber term as opposed to an initialism abbreviation or an acronym.

Cyber term were introduced for brevity, but, particularly with the advent of predictive texting and on-screen keyboards, they are now mostly employed for fun.

Cyber terms differ from icons because they are not pictorial representations.

Grammatically, W/O is used to replace the preposition without. For example:
  • The dog came back W/O the ball.
  • (Here, W/O is a preposition showing the relationship between the words dog and ball.)

What Did We Say before Texting and Social Media?

The use of W/O to mean "without" long pre-dates the digital era.

Example of W/O Used in a Text


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