Tldr – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you seen the common term ‘tldr’ on the internet and need some more explanation as to its meaning? The term is accepted to be one of the most common text-based abbreviations, and it gets typed millions of times every day. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this term.

Meaning

The term ‘tldr’ is accepted as one of the most common text-based abbreviations that is used as a shorter version of the sentence “too long, didn’t read.”

The term ‘tldr’ is sometimes written with a semicolon or comma, as either ‘tl;dr’ or ‘tldr’. Both uses of the term are considered acceptable.

It can be used as a comment, a hashtag or as part of a status.

The term ‘tldr’ is usually used to indicate a shorter summary that is usually posted together with this term as the comment. Sometimes the term can also be applied to indicate that someone found a piece of content “too long” and “didn’t read”.

When applied to comments, the term can either be used as a summary by the original poster or as sarcasm from other users to say that the post is formatted badly or too long-winded to make sense or be read properly.

Example Usage

“I wasn’t going to read the entire comment to figure out what they were talking about. It was a three page thing for what could have been said in three, better paragraphs! Tl;dr”

“Look, the short version of Harry Potter is that Voldemort eventually dies and that Harry Potter and Hermione don’t. Have I left something important out of the story, or is that enough tl;dr for everyone here?”

“What is wrong with you? The tl;dr version please, we don’t have all week to pay for the therapy session, or the budget.”

“If you want to summarize your post, all you have to do is say tldr and then type it into some kind of short version instead.”

Origin

The exact origin and first use of the term ‘tl;dr’ is difficult to track down, but the term is accepted to have appeared together with most other internet-based acronyms on message boards and through early forms of text messaging.

It is most likely that the term appeared some time in the 90s to early 2000s, and that is spread to further common use through message boards in the early 2000s first. The term would soon make it out of this bubble and enter common media as well as dictionaries in the 2010s.

With social media popularity came the rise in text-based acronym use, including the term tl;dr.

The term is likely to have become a more popular sight in the limited character era of social media websites like Twitter, and with short forms of content like what is usually seen on TikTok.

The first entry for the term on Urban Dictionary listed the term in 2008, although evidence for the term as a comment, status and tag exists long before this.

Twitter and Instagram made the term more common as a response and hashtag that is directed at other users on social media platforms.

Phrases Similar to tldr

  • tl;dr

Phrases Opposite to tldr

  • tldr

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Tl;dr
  • TL;DR
  • tldr
  • tl,dr

Ways People May Say tldr Incorrectly

There are several ways in which someone might use the term ‘tl;dr’ in the incorrect way.

The most common way in which someone can use the term in the wrong way is to interpret its meaning or context inappropriately.

The term is meant to be used to indicate that a summary is posted with a longer piece of content, but the term can also be used sarcastically by users to indicate that they found something too long (or long-winded) to finish reading.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase tldr

The right way to use the term tldr is to use it when indicating that a summary is about to be said, or that something is too long or tedious to read.

There are several acceptable ways to write the term, including tl;dr, tldr, and tl,dr.

The term is almost never written in full, and the acronym is mostly used.

The term can be used as a comment, a hashtag or as part of a status.

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