Love it or loathe it, "lol" is now a legitimate word in our lexicon, says Graeme Diamond, the OED's principal editor for new words.
"The word is common, widespread, and people understand it," he explains.
The word serves a real purpose - it conveys tone in text, something that even the most cynical critics accept.
"I don't 'LOL'. I'm basically someone who kind of hates it," says Rob Manuel of the internet humour site b3ta.
"But the truth is, we do need emotional signifiers in tweets and emails, just as conversation has laughter. 'LOL' might make me look like a twit, but at least you know when I'm being arch."Death of the dictionaryBut for young internet entrepreneurs like Ben Huh, of the Cheezburger Network of comedy sites, "LOL" is much more than a necessary evil. It's both a tool and a toy.The internet slang term "LOL" (laughing out loud) has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, to the mild dismay of language purists. But where did the term originate? And is it really a threat to our lexicon?
"OMG! LOL's in the OED. LMAO!"
If you find the above string of letters utterly unintelligible, you are clearly an internet "noob". Let me start again.
Golly gosh! The popular initialism LOL (laughing out loud) has been inducted into the canon of the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary. Blimey! What is going on?
The OED defines LOL as an interjection "used chiefly in electronic communications... to draw attention to a joke or humorous statement, or to express amusement".
It is both "LOL" where all the letters are pronounced separately, but also commonly "lol" where it is pronounced as a word.
The phrase was ushered in alongside OMG (Oh My God), with dictionary guardians pointing to their growing occurrence "in e-mails, texts, social networking... and even in spoken use".
As well as school playgrounds, words like "lolz" and "lolling" can be heard in pubs and offices - though often sarcastically, or in parody.
"'LOL' is a part of everyday life. I use it all the time in e-mail exchanges. It's a polite way of acknowledging someone," he says.
LOL around the world
- mdr (and derivatives)
French version, from the initials of "mort de rire" which roughly translated means "dying of laughter"
Hebrew version. The letter ח is pronounced 'kh' and ה is pronounced 'h'. Putting them together makes "khakhakha"
Thai variation of LOL. "5" in Thai is pronounced "ha", three of them being "hahaha"
Swedish abbreviation of the term Asgarv, meaning intense laughter
Afghan abbreviation of the Dari phrase "ma khanda mikonom", which means "I am laughing"
Source: Know Your Meme