IRL Meaning

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What does IRL mean?

IRL means In Real Life.

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IRL Meaning
Find out what IRL means and how it is used.

IRL is an initialism that is typically used online to differentiate between the virtual world (e.g. internet, games, movies) and the real world (real life).

Where is IRL used?

IRL is often used in online chats on platforms like Discord, Twitch, YouTube, etc. It is also used in comment threads and forum posts, as well as in text messages.

IRL is used on the follow platforms and places:

  • texting
  • online conversation
  • Discord
  • Facebook
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Instagram
  • Reddit
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • Tumblr
  • Twitch
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
An example of the initialism IRL in a text message.
An example of the initialism IRL in a text message.

How is IRL used?

IRL is used to separate the virtual world from the real world. For example, you might say something like “It is more fun to skateboard IRL”, which means you think that going out and skating is more fun than playing a skateboarding game like EA Skate or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.

You might also use it to say something like “Kickflips are so much harder IRL” because it is easier to do that trick in a video game than in real life.

Do people say IRL out loud?

Not usually, and if they do, it’s often used somewhat ironically. People tend to just say “in real life”.

Example Uses of IRL

In a text message:
I'd prefer to have this discussion IRL.

Someone tells their friend that they would rather talk about something in real life than through text messages. This could be for any number of reasons: it could be a long conversation which would be annoying to do through texting or they may not want a record of the conversation at all.

On Discord:
What have you been up to IRL?

Somebody asks their gamer friend what they've been doing besides gaming.

On online conversation:
We should meet up IRL sometime!

Someone suggests that they meet up in person with someone else they know from a chatroom.

On Facebook Messenger:

Someone tells their friend that people don't say "LOL" in real life... they just laugh.

On Twitter:

Someone realizes that real life isn't like GTA where you can go around stealing vehicles (and doing much worse things) all the time.

Who uses IRL?

There are a wide range of people that use the term IRL. We see it used most frequently by people who spend a lot of time chatting online, like gamers and streamers.

History of IRL

First Use

IRL was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2004. At the time, there were already quite a few searches for the term on Google. We don’t know when exactly it was first used, but it is certainly one of those slang terms that predates most popular social networking sites.

Data from Google Trends showing the popularity of searches for IRL.
Data from Google Trends showing the popularity of searches for IRL.

Rise in Popularity

Using Google searches as a proxy for popularity, we see small spikes in search frequency here and there, but there has not been any large sustained increase in searches for the term.

What was used before IRL?

We are unaware of any slang term used before IRL; we suspect people just said or typed “in real life”.