Instant Messaging Solutions Key Terms

Learn the lingo of instant messaging

Instant messaging, also known as IM or IM'ing, has become a favorite form of communication for teens and tweens. However, it also has its uses in the business world. Colleagues use it to collaborate on projects, while telecommuters keep in touch with the home office throughout the day.  While your business may choose to use an instant messaging program created specifically for businesses, many businesses use non-business specific instant messaging programs.  Instant messaging, like many other technologies, carries its own lexicon, and knowing and understanding these words will help the world of instant messaging make more sense.

Buddy and buddy lists

A person you instant message is a buddy, or a contact. A buddy list is a list of people you instant message, not entirely unlike a personal phone or address book. Some instant messaging programs refer to buddy lists as contact lists.

Instant and text messaging shorthand

Many instant and text message users employ instant messaging specific shorthand. These acronyms and phonetically spelled words help users communicate more quickly.


Unlike talking on the phone or sitting across from someone in a meeting, e-mail and text messaging don't allow for inflection and tone of voice to tell the recipient whether the sender is serious, joking, angry or calm. To help decipher the subtext of messages, users developed a series of emoticons that give clues to the sender's state of mind.

Online status

A user can set his online status to make his availability known to other users. An online status indicates whether the user is busy, online or otherwise occupied. This prevents people from sending instant messages to a user who may not be at his or her computer.

Stealth settings

Stealth settings allow the instant message user to reveal his online presence to only the users he specifies.

Chat and chat rooms

A chat is an instant message session between two or more people. Chat rooms are virtual rooms where chats take place.

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