Did you recently learn a new and exciting fact that you want to share with the world? Then you might want to use “TIL” to share that information. Here’s what the acronym means and how to use it.
“Today I Learned”
TIL stands for “today I learned.” People use it to share a fact that they recently learned. That fact could be something as simple as a new route on the way home, or it could be an obscure, interesting fact picked up on the internet.
TIL is almost always spelled in all caps. It’s also frequently placed at the start of a sentence, immediately preceding the brand new piece of information. It can be used with a colon or a dash. For example, “TIL: Vatican City is the smallest country in the world.”
The History of TIL
Unlike other common internet slang terms that began in 1990s chatrooms and later spread into online vernacular, TIL’s history is much more recent. While its date of origin has been disputed in the past, it likely came about in the mid-2000s. It was used on early social networking and link aggregation sites to allow users to share cool facts that they recently discovered.
In late 2008, the subreddit r/TodayILearned would emerge on Reddit, which ended up elevating the relatively unused term from obscurity to fame. Today, the r/TodayILearned subreddit is one of the biggest communities on the entire platform, with over 24 million users subscribed. Interesting facts continue to be posted regularly, and the most popular frequently end up on the front page of Reddit.
The World of TIL
One of the unique things about TIL is the expansive range of websites and situations it can be used in.
The first is Reddit, where the term is believed to have come from. Aside from the r/TodayILearned subreddit, there are many other subreddits dedicated to sharing interesting facts. Furthermore, many posts on other subreddits adopt the “TIL” format.
Many Twitter accounts are dedicated to sharing interesting facts, and many of them pull from the original subreddit. If you have interesting information to share with your followers, you can use “TIL” or “Today I Learned” in your tweet.
The media have also picked up TIL. Many news and educational outlets now regularly use TIL to share valuable, exciting facts with their readers. A noteworthy example of this is National Geographic, which hosts a daily video series called “Today I Learned.” Many of the facts shared here are related to National Geographic’s regular content, including topics related to wildlife, nature, and space exploration.
Brand New Information
Another common use of TIL is when a piece of information isn’t necessarily revolutionary, but rather, something that the user feels they found out too late. This use of TIL is most commonly seen in forums such as Reddit or social media platforms like Twitter. An example of this might be someone responding to a comment pointing out that pop singer Dua Lipa’s name is actually “Dua Lipa.” Therefore, they would write, “TIL that Dua Lipa isn’t a stage name.”
It could also be an essential piece of information that they only recently realized. For example, if someone only just found out that their mouse has an adjustable DPI, they might say, “TIL I can adjust my mouse’s DPI.”
“TIL” can also be used sarcastically. For example, let’s say that you come across a piece of information about yourself that is entirely incorrect. In that case, you might snarkily respond with “TIL that I’m a professional gymnast. Not!”
How Do I Use TIL?
TIL and Today I Learned are both reasonably common terms on the internet, especially on social media websites and online message boards. You can use the two interchangeably. Since TIL has become a common term in reputable publications, it can be used both casually and professionally.
Here are a few examples of TIL in action:
- TIL that the earth is over 4.5 billion years old.
- TIL that the human nose can detect a trillion smells.
- TIL that I’ve been using my blender the wrong way this whole time!