- Irl is an abbreviation for the phrase in real life.
- Use irl when you want to distinguish reality from something that happens in games, on social media, or on TV.
There’s certainly something attractive about playing video games or carefully crafting a social media presence. However, we shouldn’t lose track of things that happen to us irl because of that.
The meaning of irl
Irl is an abbreviation for in real life, which indicates that we’re talking about our normal, everyday life and not the digital lives we lead online.
The phrase irl emerged in the early days of the Internet when people saw a need to distinguish things that were happening online from things that were happening offline. As people found ways to present an alternate picture of themselves online, irl became a shorthand for distinguishing between how things appear online and how they are in reality.
How to use irl
Irl is an online slang word, and as such, it doesn’t belong in formal conversations. If you are in a formal conversation, consider replacing it with the phrase “in reality.”
When you use irl, you have the choice to either put it in all caps or not—either way will work fine. Just remember that it’s meant to point out that something isn’t happening in the environment where it’s being said, or that it’s not the way it seems online or on TV.