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What Does AFK Mean?

Have you ever come across the acronym AFK and wondered about its meaning? In an age of Teams, Zoom, Slack, and countless other office communication apps, you probably encounter a lot of office acronyms: EOD, BRB, BTW. It’s equally likely that you have stared blankly at some of them, not knowing what they stand for.

Here is a detailed look at AFK.

What is the meaning of AFK?

Simply put, AFK stands for away from keyboard. Employees generally use it to advise colleagues that they will be away from their desks and modes of communication. Often, AFK is attended by an amount of time so that coworkers will anticipate their return.

Graphic of dog's paws on a keyboard with the title "AFK = Away From Keyboard"

The Story of AFK

AFK has been around for a while. If you hung around chatrooms in the days of Netscape and AOL, you might have seen it regularly used. Yet, AFK predates even those primeval internet days. As far back as 1989, it appeared in a FidoNet newsletter along with other early tech shorthand.

In the years that followed, gamers would drop AFK into chats when engaged in multiplayer campaigns. In recent years, its usage has fallen, though the popular community-based game Among Us makes use of it.

Using AFK

Like so many online abbreviations, AFK is extremely useful since it conveys precise information with minimal keystrokes. It is excellent as a half-second message you can toss off when you need to leave your computer quickly.

Let’s say you need to run to the bathroom, but you are in the middle of a back-and-forth on Teams. No problem! Just tell the group chat, “going afk – back in 5.”

Alternatively, you might notice that same group chat asking after a colleague you know to be in the kitchen for a coffee. All you have to do is say, “he’s afk.”

Even if AFK isn’t as widely used as it used to be, it is still a valuable acronym for your online communication.

List of Other Useful Acronyms

Now that you know the meaning of AFK, here is a list of 20 other acronyms you can come across in your business communication:

NRN – No Reply Necessary

LET – Leaving Early Today

EOM – End of Message

PRB – Please Reply By

HTH – Hope That Helps

WFH – Working From Home

TLTR – Too Long To Read

TL;DR – Too Long; Didnt Read

Y/N – Yes or No?

OOO – Out of Office

EOD – End of Day

EOW – End of Week

SFW – Safe For Work

LMK – Let Me Know

IMO – In My Opinion

BTW – By The Way

IDK – I Don’t Know

FWIW – For What It’s Worth

FYI – For Your Information

TYT – Take Your Time

Related: What is Duly Noted? 

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By Audrey Horwitz

Audrey Horwitz holds a master's degree in communication and a bachelor's degree in business administration. She has worked with numerous companies as a content editor including Speechly, Compusignal, and Wordflow. Audrey is a prolific content writer with hundreds of articles published for Medium, LinkedIn, Scoop.It, and Article Valley.

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