Twitter Glossary

December 20, 2011

5 mins

We were recently working on some things with a client and did a quick Google search for a comprehensive list of Twitter terms, phrases, and abbreviations. We were shocked when we couldn’t find a good one. So we decided to make our own.

If you’re completely new to Twitter or even if you’ve been around a while, we think you might find this list helpful. We give you…

My Twitter Glossary:


Your Twitter bio photo. (Avatar is sometimes shortened to avi.)


You can block a Twitter user, which prevents them from seeing your tweets and you from seeing their tweets to you.


Short for Direct Message. When two people follow each other, they can send direct messages to each other. These are private tweets that are not visible on the main timeline.

Fail Whale

When Twitter is so overloaded that it can’t function, their error page comes up with its iconic image of a whale.


When you follow other people on Twitter, their updates will appear in your timeline (or twitter stream).


Your Twitter name (or username).


The # symbol before any word or phrase (with no spaces or punctuation), which makes it searchable on Twitter. These are used to track tweets for specific events or topics; clicking on the hashtag will search for all tweets that include it. Hashtags are also frequently used as a funny add-on at the end of a tweet.


When someone mentions you on Twitter, either tweeting to you or about you. Also called an “at reply” (@reply). All of these are visible in your mention stream on Twitter.


Overheard. Often this will come at the start of a tweet, followed by a quote of what was overheard.


Some Twitter users have their accounts set to private. This means they must grant permission for you to see their tweets.


When a user answers back to another on Twitter. Also called an “at reply” or “@ reply.” When someone clicks the reply button to respond, the entire Twitter conversation remains linked and can be easily followed.


Retweet. This is the biggest way to show love on Twitter—passing along what other people say. Twitter’s original/old way of retweeting forwards it on exactly as is. The new/modified way generates a new tweet with RT at the beginning of it and gives you the opportunity to add your own thoughts to the tweet. When tweeting something you’d specifically like to get passed along, be sure you leave enough remaining characters for others to RT it.


Use the search function to see what people are tweeting about. You can search topics, names, @handles, hashtags, etc.


When someone tweets a link to you, but is not following you. Typically the link is for something they are selling. You can select the “report as spam” button which will block that user from tweeting you again and automatically reports them to Twitter.

Star / Favorite

Check the star symbol next to a tweet to mark it as a favorite. This can be used to save an interesting tweet or to remind you of something you want to look more into at a later time. You can view all your starred or favorited tweets from your profile.

Trending Topics

The most popular subjects on Twitter at that moment.


A single update on Twitter.

Twitter stream / Timeline

Main feed of tweets from people you are following.


An in-real-life gathering of Twitter friends.

Twitter Party

A virtual party, typically arranged by a blog or brand, where Twitterers gather at a certain time to discuss a specific topic. Typically a hashtag is used, making it easy to follow along with the tweets.

URL Shortener

Tool to make URLs (website addresses) shorter — easier to fit in a 140-character tweet.

Via / HT

Used when a link or thought comes from someone else and the Twitterer is giving credit. Typically it is added at the end of the tweet, as “Via @handle” or “HT: @handle”. The HT stands for “hat tip”, as though you’re tipping your hat in the direction of the person you got the idea from.


This hashtag is used by people who have installed an application on Facebook called Selective Tweets. Tweets ending in #fb are automatically imported to Facebook, but all others are ignored.


Follow Friday. People use this hashtag when they are making suggestions of people for you to follow.

Can you think of any others?What else should be on this list?

Cross & Crown

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