The first real common language that was initially established in the European geographical area was “Latin”, knowledge of which was mandatory to establish and maintain lasting relationships with the inhabitants of an empire as vast as the Roman one. The legacy of this “super partes” affirmation of the Latin language are an infinity of words of Latin origin imported into every current modern European language. Furthermore, we must consider that the Vatican still uses Latin as the official language for drafting ecclesiastical documents and regulations.

In Europe, the medieval period led to a refinement of local languages ​​from two main lineages: the Latin (Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian) and the Anglo-Saxon (English, German and various Scandinavian languages).

The period of the conquest of the new continents by the European powers made it possible to export these languages ​​all over the world, mainly creating English-speaking areas (United Kingdom, United States, Canada, India, Australia, Southern Africa, New Zealand, …), French-speaking areas (Canada, Oceania, Central and Northern Africa, Polynesia, …) and Portuguese areas (Brazil, Angola, Guinea, Mozambique, …), in line with the colonial ambitions of the imperial regimes that shared the territories known then for over 500 years (approximately from 1400 to 1900).

After the colonial period, the preeminence of one language over another derived above all from the industrial and scientific importance and, in this context, English began to be considered fundamental, both for the territorial vastness of its former colonies and for the innovative technological and military supremacy of the United Kingdom and the United States. The new recent techno-industrial powers (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, …) have had to use the English language to acquire skills and conquer ever wider markets.

Of this huge English-speaking wave, the information technology was certainly the highest and most disruptive part. But also the language associated with business (marketing and economics) has been completely subjected to English, which has also been heavily introduced into the writing of our emails through a series of acronyms. In this context we want to highlight the most used ones, reporting their translation and a concise explanation.

  1. ASAP – As Soon As Possible: It is used to reiterate an urgency and to hurry who have to take a certain action.
  2. BTW – By The Way: It is often used to add a detail that you forgot to include in previous emails.
  3. BW – Best Wishes: It is a closing formula, to be used only if, however, you are familiar with the interlocutor.
  4. EOD / EOW – End Of the Day / End Of the Week: Beware that then you will have to actually do something within the stated time period.
  5. FYI – For Your Information: It is used to communicate something that you believe the recipient should know, even if it is not strictly related to the subject of the email and even if the recipient is not in the official list.
  6. FWIW – For What It’s Worth: It’s a good way to send someone tips or tricks without sounding like a know-it-all. Starting with this acronym you can always give even bad advice, as they are valid only as simple and harmless suggestions.
  7. HTH – Hope That Helps: It would be the limit if the acronym itself didn’t help.
  8. IAM – In A Meeting: It is used when you receive a message, but you cannot reply because you are in a meeting, so this is the right acronym for reply.
  9. IDK – I Dont ’Know: To be used sparingly, as it is always unpleasant as well as dangerous to point out one’s ignorance about it.
  10. IMO – In My Opinion: This is the time to best express your opinion.
  11. LET – Leaving Early Today: The team is advised of an early exit.
  12. LMK – Let Me Know: Beware that they are asking for your opinion, be careful and respond with measure and precision.
  13. NRN – No Replay Necessary: ​​Therefore, since it is not necessary to reply to the email, avoid forwarding a message to senders to say “Ok” or “Thank you”.
  14. OOO – Out Of Office: Out of office. Be careful not to write “000”. The three zeros in Anglo-Saxon countries sometimes indicate the toilet.
  15. PRB – Please Reply By (following time): If you see this acronym, make sure you actually reply within the indicated time.
  16. RE – Referring to: It means … about.
  17. TBC – To Be Confirmed: Do not be alarmed, it has nothing to do with tuberculosis, even if in Italian medical language the same acronym is used to indicate this danger.
  18. TBD – To Be Defined/Decided: You can also find it in presentations and documents, for certain topics that have yet to be definitively analyzed and explained.
  19. TLTR – Too Long To Read: It is a short message that serves to warn the sender that the response to the received email may take a long time to arrive, as this requires commitment and time in reading and creating an adequate response.
  20. TYT – Take Your Time: There is no rush to respond and therefore … you are for the moment exempted from an immediate response.
  21. Y/N – Yes/No: They are asking you for a peremptory answer. We recommend that you always reflect before answering, since a positive affirmation, at times, is followed by a certain commitment to implementation.

So if some colleague were to send you a message like: IMO HTH this article, but FYI I’m IAM up to EOD. BTW, FWIW, I LET, so I’ll be OOO. NRN, BW.

Now you would surely know how to decrypt it, it being understood that it would be better to permanently delete its address from your mailing list.

ACTION ICT (May 2022)


ACTION ICT is a young, dynamic and innovative IT company. It operates, both nationally and internationally, offering professional skills and design solutions in the ICT field to medium and large businesses. Our highly skilled know-how is housed in three expertise specific departments: ACTION DATA (Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence), ACTION APP (Web & Mobile Application) and ACTION IOT (Internet of Things and Robotics).

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