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What Does “IRL” Mean? Definition, Use, and Examples

What does “IRL” mean? When someone says they want to meet “IRL,” what does it mean? When acronyms get used over text conversations, it can be confusing to completely comprehend what the other person is attempting to communicate. The English language is changing dramatically, thanks to the internet.

Learn what “IRL” means in this short guide…

“IRL” meaning and definition

“IRL” stands for “In Real Life.” Typically, it is a way of asking someone that you have a connection with over the internet if they would like to meet “In Real Life.” Due to the large quantities of people who had to live digital lives from 2020 to 2021, it began to get used as a way of asking someone to “meet up,” regardless of the relationship type.

The acronym “IRL” became a staple of the internet abbreviations since its use is primarily intended for internet communication. Implying that two people are having digital communication and it’s time to have face-to-face conversation (meeting in the physical world).

IRL getting used in a text conversation


Typically, “IRL” is said in ALL CAPS. Less frequently, it’s used in all lowercase letters.

Correct: IRL

Correct: irl

Incorrect: Irl

Incorrect: irL


“IRL” is an internet slang term that is commonly used between people getting to know each other. It is informal. And should not get used in a business setting.

Correct use: Tinder, Bumble, or another dating app.

Incorrect use: Email to your manager.

Alternative meanings

There are no alternative meanings behind “IRL,” rather abbreviations that collide with the intended meaning. Other meanings could include the following:

  • Indy Racing League
  • Iceland It’s Ridiculously Lame
  • Internal Representation League
  • Internet Research Lab
  • International Racing League

Where it could get used

“IRL” can get used in the following places:

  • Social media: Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter
  • Dating applications: Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid

History of “IRL”

The acronym “IRL” dates back further than 2003, according to Urban Dictionary. Making it one of the older acronyms used on the web. The abbreviation “IRL” has never had another meaning that the meaning that it has today, “In Real Life.”

AOL Instant Messenger made this acronym popular amongst young adults. Internet chat rooms and forums ignited the term as the number of people having conversations online increased. Early days of the internet opened opportunities for two people to build connections digitally. And then attempt to move those connections to something face-to-face.

The term got listed in the Oxford English Dictionary in the year 2000.

IRL getting used in a text conversation

Examples where “IRL” is getting used in a conversation

Examples of the acronym “IRL” getting used in text conversations:

Example one

Man 1: “I really enjoy the conversations that we have. I would love to meet IRL!”

Girl 1: “That sounds great to me, let’s do it!”

In this example, the two people that are texting are a man and a woman. This conversation could have taken place over a dating application. And the man is asking the woman if she would like to meet in person.

Example two

Friend 1: “See you guys IRL tomorrow!”

Friend 2: “Can’t wait for you to get here.”

The second example of this acronym is a friend using the phrase to describe arriving at a destination sometime soon. This is a way of taking the online acronym and using it in an informal way between two friends.

IRL getting used in a text conversation

Similar short forms and abbreviations

F2F: Meaning “face to face,” a way of asking someone if they would like to meet in-person.

Common FAQs

Questions and answers.

What does “IRL” mean on a dating app?

When a person asks to meet “IRL,” it means they want to meet in person. It may have a physical connotation associated with the acronym.

To determine this, it’s important to look at the words around the acronym and the interaction as a whole. For example, if the person over the dating app is only showing interest in wanting to meet “IRL,” rather than talking—it could be a sign they only want physical activity.


  1. In-person synonyms – Your Dictionary
  2. irl abbreviation – Definition, pictures, pronunciation and usage
  3. What is IRL (in real life)? – Definition from WhatIs.com
  4. IRL Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster
  5. What Does Irl Mean? – Grammarly
  6. Irl Definition & Meaning – Dictionary.com
  7. What Does IRL Mean and How Do I Use It? – groovyPost

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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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