The text "GTG" in a comic book-style bubble.
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Has anyone ever told you “GTG!” instead of goodbye? Here’s what that means and how you can use it to make a quick getaway from a conversation.

“Got to Go”

GTG stands for “Got to go” or, less commonly, “Going to go.” It can be used in both the uppercase GTG or the lowercase “gtg,” which is more common.

It’s used to tell someone you’re speaking to (especially online) that you’re about to leave the conversation. Depending on the context, it could mean that you’re going somewhere else, or that you’re about to go offline and stop using your device for whatever reason. Alternatively, it’s also a simple way to end a conversation that you no longer want to participate in.

GTG is synonymous with similar slang phrases like “Gotta go” or “Have to run.” It’s also commonly used as a replacement for “Bye” or “Good night,” which are often used to close a conversation. Saying GTG implies that there’s a reason you’re about to leave, such as needing to sleep or having to go to work. It’s also related to initialisms like BRB and TTYL, which imply shorter breaks.

The acronym is commonly used in online gaming. For example, in multiplayer titles, single games or quests can last an hour or more. If your teammate is inviting you to play another round, but you don’t have enough time, you might tell them that you gtg.

A Brief History of GTG

A woman waving goodbye to an office full of people.
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GTG is part of the group of online initialisms that came about in the 1990s because of internet chatrooms conducted over IRC technology. Aside from the practicality of shortening longer phrases to fit limited screen sizes and character limits, the acronym also filled an important role in early messaging. Because IRC didn’t have “online statuses” like later programs, it was essential to let your partner know that you were about to leave. Saying GTG allowed people to do that quickly.

The first definition for GTG on the internet slang database Urban Dictionary came about in July of 2002, which is significantly earlier than most internet slang terms. It simply reads, “Got to go.”

Since then, it has become a widespread phrase in online messaging. It was widely adopted when instant messaging and SMS became prominent in the 2000s, and it continues to be used in current messaging apps like WhatsApp and iMessage.

RELATED: Why 2020 Is the Perfect Time to Revisit IRC

“Good to Go” and G2G

An alternative definition for GTG is “Good to go,” which means that you’re ready for something. For example, if someone’s asking you whether you’re prepared to start a video meeting, you could say that you’re “gtg” or “Good to go.” While this is used often enough to be a valid definition of the acronym, be careful. Since “Got to go” and “Good to go” essentially mean opposite things, readers have to use context clues to identify which is which. It’s likely better to take the extra few seconds to type out “Good to go.”

On the other hand, an alternative spelling for “Got to go” is G2G, which means the same thing. This was invented at around the same time as GTG and is similarly well-known.

Don’t confuse these acronyms for “GtG,” which stands for gray-to-gray, a measurement of pixel speed for computer displays. You also shouldn’t confuse either of these with G2G.com, which is an online marketplace for video games.

How to Use GTG

A woman waving at a computer during a video call.
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The straightforward way to use GTG is as a replacement for “Goodbye.” Where you might say “Bye” to someone, saying gtg gets the point across in a similar way. It can also be used alongside “Bye” or “Goodbye.” It’s a very casual acronym, so only use it in personal conversations with friends or family members.

Sometimes, however, GTG is used even if the person doesn’t have anywhere else to go. When a conversation has become tedious, dull, or awkward, using GTG is a great way to stop unwanted questions. Typically, people understand that it’s a signal that the conversation is over, regardless of the actual reason.

Here are a few examples of the initialism in action:

  • “GTG, have a train to catch!”
  • “Sorry, I have to wake up early tomorrow. gtg.”
  • “g2g, it was nice talking to you.”
  • “GTG. Bye for now.”

Are you interested in learning more about online slang terms? Then check out our explainers on LMK, TTYL, and WYD.

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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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