Do you have an opinion you want to share on the internet? Consider using the acronyms IMO and IMHO. Here’s what they mean, and how to use them in your next online discussion.
What They Mean
IMO stands for “in my opinion,” and IMHO stands for “in my humble opinion” or “in my honest opinion.” For the most part, IMO and IMHO are interchangeable. They’re typically used as a disclaimer to indicate someone’s words shouldn’t be taken as fact or as the basis for making an important decision.
Both can also be used at the beginning or end of a sentence, as follows:
- “IMHO, this is a bad product.”
- “This is a bad product, IMO.”
Both acronyms are also frequently typed in lowercase “imo” and “imho.” Their usage is similar to that of YMMV (your mileage may vary), in that they’re mostly used to express that opinions can vary from person to person.
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The History of IMO and IMHO
The phrases “in my opinion” and “in my humble opinion” have been used for hundreds of years to preface that someone’s about to express his or her personal views about something. The acronyms, however, likely trace back to the early days of internet messaging and chat rooms.
During the 1980s and ’90s, people had much less screen real-estate and smaller bandwidth, which impacted the language used on platforms like internet relay chat (IRC). As a result, many phrases, including “in my opinion,” were abbreviated to acronyms.
Now, IMO and IMHO are widely used all over the internet, from message boards and comment sections, to social networking sites. It’s frequently seen on Twitter, where people often engage with a large audience.
In these settings, IMO and IMHO are often used as a disclaimer in an attempt to prevent angry comments. This is why you’ll often see both of them used in online debates and arguments, especially if the topic is open to interpretation, like the subjective quality of a movie, book, or game.
Humble or Honest?
The letter H in IMHO can mean two different things: humble or honest. While they use the same letter in the acronym, most readers can tell when someone means one or the other.
The original phrase was “in my humble opinion.” When a poster means “humble,” this person is attempting to express his or her opinion without coming off as arrogant. It reinforces that others should take their statement with a grain of salt, as it’s merely their opinion, not a fact. It’s often used merely to be courteous, by people who don’t consider themselves experts on something, or by someone who is an expert, but doesn’t want to come off as arrogant.
When someone means “honest,” their opinion might often seem more critical or harsh. IMHO in this case implies that no one should take offense at what they’re saying, as they’re simply being truthful. This meaning can be synonymous with the acronym TBH (“to be honest”), which is also sometimes used as a disclaimer.
RELATED: What Does "TBH" Mean, and How Do You Use It?
IMO vs. IMHO vs. IMNSHO
While IMO doesn’t include the word “humble,” it still doesn’t imply that someone is confident in their answer. That’s why in most situations, IMO and IMHO are used interchangeably. However, “in my humble opinion” will always come off as the less egotistical of the two.
The differences between the two are even more visible when compared to IMNSHO, which stands for “in my not-so-humble opinion.” This acronym is far less common, but you’ll sometimes see it when someone’s bragging about their achievements or experiences online.
IMNSHO is usually intended to make someone’s opinion appear more authoritative or serious. However, it normally has the opposite effect, as bragging generally turns people off.
How to Use IMO and IMHO
The phrase “in my humble opinion” has been commonly used in English for centuries. It’s fine, and perfectly acceptable, to use either IMHO or IMO online or when you message your friends and family.
You can also use them in various situations, whether you’re discussing the news or deciding what to have for dinner. You can also use them on social media and message boards to express your opinion about anything.
Here are a few examples of IMO and IMHO in action:
- “IMO, the new Call of Duty isn’t very good.”
- “It looks better with the blue jacket instead of the green, IMHO.”
- “IMHO, this pastry tastes better with honey, rather than sugar.”
- “This is the best camera money can buy, IMO.”
If you want to learn about other online terms, be sure to check out our guides on AFAIK and TLDR.
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