Woman rolling on grass laughing.
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If you say something funny in the group chat, someone might reply with “ROFL!” What does this acronym mean, and how is it different from LOL? We’ll take a look at the term, its origins, and how you can use it in your own conversations.

Rolling on the Floor Laughing

ROFL and ROTFL both stand for “rolling on the floor laughing.” When you read it, you likely have a very vivid image of someone cracking up while rolling on the ground. That’s because it’s an acronym used when you want to show strong amusement about something.

ROFL was one of the earliest acronyms that gained widespread popularity on the internet, along with LOL and LMFAO. You can find it everywhere, from posts on the biggest social media websites to texts you have with friends and family.

Depending on the context, ROFL and LOL (laughing out loud) can be used interchangeably. However, the former is used in funnier situations where a different acronym just won’t cut it, and you need to show that you’re laughing harder than an ordinary “LOL.” Also, ROFL is used deliberately in messages, unlike LOL, which people throw around in sentences where it doesn’t necessarily make sense.

One of the very first write-ups for the acronym on the Urban Dictionary states that ROFL is used when you’re “straining the fact that it is a lot more funny than your usual lol.”

The Origin of ROFL

ROFL has been around since the very early days of the world wide web. Early adopters used it in IRC or internet relay chat as an alternative to LOL.

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The first entry for the initialism on Urban Dictionary dates back to October 2002, with several other popular entries emerging in 2003. Later on, it was popular in internet forums and message boards before peaking in popularity in the early 2010s as it became widely used in internet memes.

Due to its popularity online, it has become a term spoken in real life as well. Most people pronounce it like “raw full,” similar to how you’d say “waffle.” You might say something like, “I’m so screwed. I didn’t study for the test at all rofl.”

I’m “Rolling!”

ROFL is that it isn’t the first time “rolling” has been used to describe someone laughing hysterically. The English idiom “rolling in the aisles” has been traced back to as far as the early 20th century and is used to mean that someone is laughing very loudly.

Because of how popular ROFL has become on the internet, the entire phrase “rolling on the floor laughing” is now often shortened to just “rolling.” Therefore, you might see a sentence such as “that has me rolling,” which conveys that the person is laughing. In this case, “rolling” and ROFL mean the same thing.

Batman's Batmobile Tumbler vehicle from the Dark Knight movie series
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There are other internet-related uses of the word “rolling” as well. One of them is as part of the meme phrase, “they see me rollin’, they hatin.'” This phrase comes from a lyric from Chamillionaire’s hit 2003 song “Ridin.” It has been turned into a meme that involves driving to somewhere in various forms of absurd transportation.

Funny vs. Really Funny

When should you use ROFL instead of LOL? When you want to let someone else know that something is absolutely hilarious.

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Just like other words, internet slang terms shouldn’t always be taken at face value. While LOL and ROFL basically mean the same thing, the widespread use of LOL in every kind of message has somewhat made it lose its power. On the other hand, ROFL has always meant “rolling on the floor laughing,” so people rarely misconstrue it as sarcastic or passive-aggressive.

Capitalization also matters. The uppercase “ROFL” is viewed as much more enthusiastic, especially when paired with an exclamation mark. The lowercase “rofl” is a bit more subdued but still conveys that you find something funny.

How to Use It

ROFL and ROTFL can be used interchangeably, but ROTFL has fallen out of fashion in recent years. You can also pair it with other internet slang terms to form a single initialism, the most popular of which is “ROFLMAO,” which means “rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.”

Here are a few ways you can add this acronym to your messages:

  • “I slipped on a banana rofl.”
  • “ROFL, I just saw the funniest thing outside my window!”
  • “ROFLMAO, It’s 3 in the morning, and I can’t stop laughing.”

If you want to learn about other internet slang terms, check out our articles on IDC, RN, and Yeet!

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

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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