What Does ICYMI Mean?

You’ve likely seen it in your inbox or in your Twitter feed, but what does ICYMI mean?

Maybe you got a promotional email with the subject line, “ICYMI Extra 30% Off Clearance.” Or perhaps your favorite author tweeted, “My new book is out now ICYMI.” Whatever the circumstance, if you recently came across those letters, you may have thought, “What does ICYMI mean?”

ICYMI stands for “in case you missed it.” Very often it’s used to convey, “You may already know this, but I wanted to make sure.” Speaking of things you may already know but definitely should, this is what RSVP stands for.

Why ICYMI is useful…

Because ICYMI reduces what would otherwise need 21 characters down to five, it’s a great digital space-saver. It packs a five-word punch that helps direct people’s attention (assuming they know what it means) toward something you want them to see.

…and why it isn’t

Unlike other, more self-evident abbreviations such as FYI and BTW, ICYMI isn’t easy to decipher the first time you see it. In fact, Cyberdefinitions.com (a reference guide to text speak and online language) gives it a 4 out of 5 on their “guessability” scale, which means they consider it “difficult to guess.”

There’s an inherent irony here. Unless you know ICYMI means, “in case you missed it,” there’s a decent chance you will miss it.

Find out the meanings of other counterintuitive abbreviations.

Why ICYMI isn’t an acronym

ICYMI is an abbreviation. We can’t call it an acronym—yet. (If you’re curious, this is the difference between the two.) Acronyms are pronounced as words in everyday speech (the way AWOL and NASA are). Perhaps one day we’ll all be saying something that sounds like, “EYE-see-mee.” Until then, ICYMI will remain a humble abbreviation.

Now, check out more texting abbreviations you really ought to know by now.