A person point down, representing "here and right now."
Khosro/Shutterstock.com

Have you ever seen the short, randomly placed two-letter acronym “RN” in a text from a friend? Here’s what it means and how you can use it across a variety of internet conversations.

When? “Right Now!”

RN stands for “right now.” It’s used to specify an activity or status as being in the present, similar to words like “currently” or “presently.” It’s also used to ask someone what they’re currently doing, often combined with colloquial phrases like “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?”

Another way RN is used is to invite someone to do an activity with you as soon as possible. For example, if you need to call someone urgently, you could message them, “Can you hop on FaceTime rn?” This implies that you want to talk to them now and not later in the day.

RN is frequently used with other initialisms like WYD and HYD, which stand for “What are you doing?” and “How are you doing?”, respectively. For example, you could message someone a complete question by typing “wyd rn?”, which stands for “What are you doing right now?” You can also use it as a reply together with HBU, which stands for “How about you?”

This initialism is often spelled out in the lowercase “rn.” It should not be confused with the common professional acronym RN, which stands for “registered nurse.”

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The History of RN

RN has been in use since at least the 1990s when internet chatrooms were the primary method of live digital communication. It became widespread in the early 2000s with the advent of SMS and instant messaging apps like AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger.

The first listed definition of RN in the online internet slang hub Urban Dictionary dates back to 2004. This entry specifies that RN is usually used when one is too lazy to type. Since then, it’s become an integral part of the modern online lexicon, with its most popular definition having been made in 2018. It simply reads, “It means Right Now.”

The initialism gained even wider use with the rise of popular chatting and texting apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and direct messaging on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. RN is a staple of all kinds of online conversations, whether they’re between close friends or near-total strangers.

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RN in Texting and Chatting

A rushed businessperson texting.
Billion Photos/Shutterstock.com

RN takes on a variety of different meanings and tones depending on its use in a conversation. The most common way to use rn is as part of a conversation starter. For example, you might want to find out what a friend is currently doing or how they’re feeling. You could say, “What are you up to rn?” If they are in the middle of studying, they might reply with “I’m doing homework rn.”

Another common reason to integrate RN into your sentence is to gauge someone’s availability, especially if you want to invite them to participate in an activity. You might message someone, “Are you free rn?” or “Are you busy rn?” Conversely, it can also be used to indicate a lack of availability on their part. For example, if they reply with “I’m busy rn,” that could be read as a rejection of your invitation.

RN can also be used to convey a sense of urgency. Depending on the context, rn can emphasize the fact that something is happening in real-time. For example, if you say “Get ready, we’re parking the car rn” to someone you’re about to visit, it acts as a warning that they should be ready very soon.

Besides being used to indicate an action, it’s also used to describe your current physical, mental, or emotional state. You could text someone “I feel under the weather rn” to tell them that you’re sick, or “I’m very worried rn” to let them know that you’re under emotional distress.

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How to Use RN

As we’ve illustrated above, there are a variety of ways that you can add RN to your chats and texts. Since it’s a very casual acronym, we recommend using it in personal conversations and not in professional emails.

Here are a few examples of RN in action:

  • “Where are you rn?”
  • “I’m just so tired rn. Maybe tomorrow.”
  • “I’m listening to music rn! Hbu?”
  • “I’m still working rn. Could you pick me up some food?”

If you’re interested in learning about other popular online acronyms, check out our articles on TTYL and NVM. You’ll be an internet slang expert in no time.

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Vann Vicente Vann Vicente
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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