What Does W/O Mean?

homesearch wW/O

The Quick Answer

W/O means "Without."

More Detail...

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, by far, the most common meaning for W/O when it is used in a text. (Bear in mind that it could have another meaning if used in a different context.)
Guessability:guessability level 2
2: Quite easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

An Academic Look at W/O

W/O is classified by our team as an "internet slang term" as opposed to an initialism abbreviation or an acronym. "Slang terms" were introduced for brevity, but, particularly with the advent of predictive texting and on-screen keyboards, they are now mostly employed for fun. "Slang 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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