OP in green, orange, and hot pink neon

If you’ve been on a message board, Reddit, or any social network lately, you might notice people talking about someone called “the OP.” If you’re not sure who that is, read on.

What Does “OP” Stand For?

“OP” stands for “original poster” or “original post.” While both of these terms are widely used on message boards and internet forums, they mean different things.

The original poster is the person who starts a discussion thread, forum topic, or Reddit post. They often kick-start a conversation or ask a question. If they’re asking for advice about a specific situation, they reply to the comments or messages in that thread. When other people refer to the person who started the thread, they type “OP” instead of their username.

The “original post” is the first one visible when you open the thread made by the original poster. This is the less common usage of the two. This is used when the post contains a lot of information, such as “megathreads,” or guides that consist of multiple important links, updates, and images.

“Opening” and “Overpowered”

The initialism OP also has two other usages you might see online. In anime communities, OP can stand for “opening,” meaning the opening credits at the start of each episode.

Among gamers, OP stands for “overpowered.” This means a character, item, or something else in a game is perceived as too powerful.

When typed in lowercase, “op” is the abbreviation for “opposition.” The plural form, “ops,” can also mean “operations.”

The History of OP

OP can be traced back to the early days of online message boards in the 1990s and early ’00s. The first definition of OP in the Urban Dictionary was made in 2003. It states that it stands for “original poster.” Nowadays, it’s a common term on various websites that use a message-board format, like Reddit.

OP was often used instead of an original poster’s username. Since most accounts on message boards were anonymous, they consisted of obscure words, character names, numbers, and symbols. Furthermore, these sites had no tagging or notification systems, like message boards do now. OP was a much faster and easier way to refer to the original poster.

In the early days of message boards, the OP of a thread might also use the internet acronym “ITT,” which stands for “in this thread,” in the title of their posts. Seeing ITT in titles is less common now, but the term is still in use online.

OP and Reddit

The Reddit app logo on an iPhone Home screen.

The acronym OP is widely used on Reddit, the largest online message board. In Ask Me Anything or AMA threads, people are told to ask the OP questions. Unless the OP is a well-known public figure, commenters will often use the term “OP” to refer to the person being asked the questions.

Another usage is when a poster shares a story or personal experience. When the story is discussed in the comments, people will often refer to that poster as the OP. For example, someone might post “If I had to walk as far as the OP did, I probably would’ve given up.”

RELATED: What Does "AMA" Mean, and How Do You Use It?

OP on Social Media

The Twitter app on a smartphone.
Sattalat Phukkum/Shutterstock.com

OP is also a common term on social media, particularly Twitter. When a tweet has a long chain of replies from multiple people, it becomes a Twitter thread. Therefore, “OP” refers to the person who sent the first tweet.

Threads are common on Twitter because of the platform’s 280-character limit. When people want to type longer stories or post lots of pictures, they separate them into multiple tweets. If someone stumbles upon an out-of-order tweet in a thread, they’ll often look for the OP’s first tweet.

How to Use OP on Forums

OP is a colloquial term that doesn’t really belong in formal emails. You should only use it on social media or online message boards.

Here are a few ways you can use OP:

  • “OP, please give us an update when you receive the package.”
  • “The OP has a lot of great nutrition information.”
  • “What’s your favorite game on the PS4, OP?”
  • “I find the OP’s story fascinating, TBH.”

OP is just one of the many acronyms you’ll see online. If you want to learn about a few more, be sure to check out what SMH and NSFW mean.

RELATED: What Does "NSFW" Mean, and How Do You Use It?

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Vann Vicente has been a technology writer for four years, with a focus on explainers geared towards average consumers. He also works as a digital marketer for a regional e-commerce website. He's invested in internet culture, social media, and how people interact with the web.
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