What Does “TLDR” Mean, and How Do You Use TL;DR?

ByUmar Ali – September 21, 2020TLDR and TL;DR mean

Do you know the mean of TLDR, where did it come from, and how do you use it? How to understand and use this internet abbreviation. Unlike most internet acronyms or observations, TLDR (or TL;DR) has found its way into professional emails, news posts, articles, and even Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. Let’s scroll down to reply to the above-given questions.

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TLDR Mean: Too Long; Did not Read

The most common internet acronym is TLDR (or TL;DR) for “Too Long; Did not Read.” At face value, the phrase looks very easy to understand. But words and phrases can change depending on their context, and TLDR is no exception. When you open a lengthy social media an article, post, or a text message and view a separate section titled TLDR(or TL;DR), along with a summary of the post. It is either a summary of a longer page or it is an indication that the sender did not find the information worth reading.

In its simplest form, TLDR is used to express that a piece of digital text (email, an article, post, etc) is too long be worth reading. A lone “TLDR?” without any explanation could be an intentionally funny or rude comment. In most cases, though, it is just a witty acknowledgment that a small chunk of text easier to digest than a large wall of text.

That said, you will rarely view a lone “TLDR” in the comments for a web article (or anywhere really). People tend to accompany their TLDR with a summary of what is being discussed. At the bottom of a lengthy post or article on football, for instance, you might detect a comment that says “TLDR: the Patriots will win the next Super Bowl.”

Along this same line, writers sometimes contain a TLDR at the top or bottom of their web post or article, email, or text message. This is mean to be a summary of what the author is saying, and it is a disclaimer that the details of a long text may not be worth every reader’s time. A ten paragraph product review for a crappy laptop, for example, could simply begin with “TLDR: this laptop sucks.” That’s the quick summary, and you can read further for details.

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Origins of the TL;DR Expression and TLDR Dates Back to the Early 2000s

Like most of the Intetnet slang, we do not really know where the word TLDR came from. Our best guess is that the phrase originated from discussion boards like the Something Awful Forums and 4Chan during the early 2000s.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary (which accepted “TL;DR” as a word in 2018) claims that the word was first used in 2002, but provides no evidence to support its claim.

Urban Dictionary

The exact origins of TL;DR are unclear, but its first Urban Dictionary entry appeared in 2003. It likely arose in opinionated discussion forums, where posts can quickly turn into long rants.

A Google Analytics graph showing how often users or people search for the phrases “TLDR” or ” TL;DR.” Over the years, searches for “TLDR” have gone up, while searches for “TL;DR” have decreased.

Today, you can detect TL;DR posts and comments all over social media platforms, computer help forums, emails, and texts. While some instances of TLDR can appear snarky or rude, it is often a helpful suggestion that a user should consider revising and abbreviating their thoughts. It is also a useful way to introduce a shortened version of what you want to say.

Expressions similar to TL;DR include:

  • TLDC (Too Long Don’t Care)
  • ELI5 (Explain Like I’m 5)
  • Cool story, bro (indicates a story was boring or pointless)
  • ORLY (Oh, Really?)
  • BTAIM (Be That as It May)

Capitalizing and Punctuating Text and Web Abbreviations


Capitalization of the alphabets is non-concern when using text abbreviations and chat jargon. Use the entire lowercase (tl;dr) or entire uppercase (TL;DR) letters, and meaning is identical.

Proper Punctuation

Correct punctuation is similarly a non-concern with most text message abbreviations. For instance, the acronym for “too long, didi not read” can be TL;DR or TLDR. Both cases are acceptable.

Never Use Periods

Never use dots (periods) between you acronym letters; it would defeat the purpose of being a shortcut. For instance, ROFL would never be spelled R.O.F.L., and TLDR would never be T.L.D.R.

Google Analytics

So far, the oldest record use of TLDR (then spelled “TL;DR”) dates back to Jan of 2003, when it was added to Urban Dictionary. There are also some forum posts that contain the word “TL;DR” from later that same year.

Google searches for the term “TLDR” or ” TL;DR” since 2004 have slowly climbed. Unfortunately Google Analytics started in Jan 2004, so we can not look any further back than that. You can view that use of the word “TLDR” has far exceeded “TL;DR” since 2004, which is why we have dropped the semi-colon for most of this article.

How Do You Use TLDR?

Usually speaking, when summarizing a piece of text you should only use TLDR, whether you are the author or commenter. Using the phrase TLDR without introducing a useful summary for the content can come off as deliberately rude (but of course, that could be your intention).

When you are using TLDR as a commenter, your job is very easy and simple. Provide a useful summary that other readers can understand or leave a snarky “TLDR” and come off as childish or rude.

When you are using the TLDR term as an author, your job is a little more complicated. Put a TLDR-summary at the beginning of an email or an article can save the reader’s time or act as an instant the introduction, but it can also give the reader a reason to skip the description of your text

A TLDR abstract at the end of a long text is some times more require or desirable because it allows you to summarize all of the details or descriptions that the reader is digesting. But in some cases, this use can feel a little sarcastic. It is as if the author is recognized that their own wall of text can appropriately be considered in a single sentence

As for scholarly or professional use, it just depends on the context. As a rule of thumb, do not throw around TLDR anywhere you would not say LOL. But if you really wish to use TLDR in a professional environment (it’s big among marketers, programmers, and writers), consider saying “TL;DR” in place. It looks fancier than the basic TLDR, and it’s accepted as a word by Webster’s Dictionary.

So TLDR: TLDR: TLDR is a useful method to summarize description and make it fast the communication. Use it when it feels right, and try to avoid sounding rude.

TL;DR Usage Example

First Example:

  • (Firs User) So, if you look at the above 17 cited instances, you’ll understand why I want this project to be approved.
  • (Second User) TL;DR
  • (First User) Wait! You’re not going to read the examples so you can understand my ideas?
  • (Second User) Mhm

Second Example:

(First User) I’m going to quote several paragraphs from the Criminal Code of Justice around speeding on interstates. TLDR version: yes, the state police and the local counties can jail you for up to 72 hours if you are speeding on an interstate.

Recommended Etiquette for Web and Text Jargon

When tested to use jargon in messages, Guess who your audience is, if the context is professional or informal, and then use good judgment. If you know someone well and it is an informal and personal conversation, then quite use abbreviations. On the flip side, if you are just beginning a professional or friendship, avoid abbreviations until you have developed and strengthened a relationship rapport.

In case messaging with someone at work in a professional context or with a vendor or customer outside your company, avoid abbreviations altogether. Spelling out full words shows professionalism and courtesy. It is much smarter to go err on the side of being too professional at first and then relax your communication over time organically.

Is TLDR rude?

Usually speaking, you should use TLDR use only when abstract a piece of text, whether you are the commenter or author. Using the phrase of TLDR without introducing a useful summary for the content can come off as deliberately rude (but of course, that may be your intention).

How do I use TLDR in email?

Once you have a specific wordy message, you can include a TLDR; summary at the top. TLDR; came from message boards when someone has gone into a really long discussion about something. In the end, they would contain TLDR; which stands for Too Long, Did not Read, and a single-sentence summary of the entire message.

Sources: Know Your Meme, Merriam-Webster

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FacebookTwitterPinterestWhatsAppUmar Alihttps://www.dowpie.comUmar Ali is a passionate content writer. He feeds many blogs with his unique content. He loves creating contents tutorial content. And contribute many guest articles on different websites.