Twitter lingo in plain English

Twitter lingo in plain English

twitter tshirtA a recent training event i was asked about # hashtags, tweets and other horrible lingo used by people on Twitter. Here’s a quick run down on what they mean in plain English.

An update on Twitter. Basically a message of up to 140 characters, sometimes containing a link, a picture or video.  Also a verb: to tweet, tweeting. Takeaway Tip : Try using 120 characters to leave space for people to RT (see below) your message.

Reply or @Reply

A message from one person to another, visible to anyone following the person who is giving the reply. Unlike text messages it’s also visible to the world (and search engines) in your Twitter profile page.

Direct message or DM

A message from one person to another but in private (not visible to other people, the internet or search engines).

Re-tweet or RT

The act of repeating a message from another person to your followers for its value (the Twitter equivalent of forwarding an email).

Twitter client or application

Software on your mobile phone or computer that you use to access Twitter. Popular clients are Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, there are also Twitter Smartphone/iPhone applications – here’s 17 best Twitter apps for 2011 from Techradar.


The term given to posting short status updates to micro-blogging sites like Twitter. There are other micro-blogging sites like Twitter!

Hashtag #
The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.


A person who has subscribed to read your tweets. Displayed on Twitter as: “Following”.

Twitter API

Twitter is an ‘open platform’ which means other people can develop tools (software and websites) which use the Twitter functionality and the published content (all the stuff that’s displayed publicly on, but not private messages or personal information).

New to twitter? – See this fantastic guide Twitter for beginners guide – from Charlene Kingston at the Crows Nest @crowinfodesign on twitter!

Watch a video – Twitter in plain English!

“Twitter in Plain English” comes from CommonCraft, makers of dozens of videos explaining everything from zombies to social networking to the world in simple, easy-to-understand language.