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The Essential Twitter Dictionary

Whether you’re a Twitter power user or a nervous neophyte, there are some words you’ve just got to know in order to interact on Twitter. We’ve compiled the essential Twitter dictionary so you can tweet with confidence, @mention frequently, and sift through your followers and friends without getting them mixed up.


Direct Message (DM) – A message sent via Twitter that only you and the recipient can see. The user you want to send a direct message to must be following you. To send, begin your message with “d username” or use the direct message inbox on Twitter.com. The term “direct message” is often shortened to “DM”.

@mention – Contained in the body (not at the beginning) of a tweet, an @mention calls to a specific Twitter user. By typing a Twitter username after the “@” sign in a tweet, you ensure that that user will see that tweet in their timeline and Connect tab. Multiple users can be mentioned in a single tweet, as long as they all have the “@” sign before their username.

@reply – Written at the beginning of a tweet, an @reply indicates a direct correspondence between you and the Twitter user you @reply to. By typing @ and a specific username at the beginning of your tweet, you ensure that the user will see that tweet and know it is directly written to them. This is often used to facilitate a direct, two-way conversation between two Twitter users. Only yourself, that user, and any user who follows both of your accounts will see the @reply.

Followers – Followers are Twitter users who elect to follow your account. They will receive all of your public tweets in their timeline. The number of followers listed on your profile is the number of people who are receiving your tweets.

Following – The people who you are following on Twitter. You will receive all of their public tweets in your timeline. The number of people you are following listed on your Twitter profile is the number of people whose tweets you receive.

Friends – Friends are Twitter users who have followed you, and whom you have followed back. They receive your public tweets and you receive theirs in the Twitter timeline.

Hashtag – A hashtag, or “#”, denotes a keyword or topic on Twitter. It is often the best way to search for and find out what Twitter users are currently talking about. Hashtags can be any string of characters without spaces. The most-talked-about Hashtags at any given time are located in the Trends (see “Trends”) sidebar on the right panel of the Twitter home page.

Lists – Lists are curated groups of Twitter users. They are created by Twitter users to organize their timelines, to group people within a specific industry together, to separate friends and co-workers, to indicate the topic that certain users tend to tweet about the most, or any number of other reasons. Lists that you have created or chosen to follow appear under the dropdown gear menu directly above your timeline on Twitter.com.

Retweet (RT) – A retweet is a tweet that has been repeated. If you retweet something, the original tweet will be sent to your followers in its entirety. This is often used to share news or insight with your followers. Retweet is often shortened to “RT”.

Timeline – The Twitter timeline is the real-time feed of all of the tweets from those you follow. Each user has a different timeline depending on who they follow.

Trends/ Trending Topic – The most-tweeted topics on Twitter at any given time. Appearing in the right-hand sidebar of the New Twitter profile, Trends are “Worldwide” by default, but can be narrowed down to certain geographic location to determine what is being discussed by different groups of Twitter users. Trends are based on a number of factors including the amount of tweets and retweets as well as the volume of tweets currently compared to the past. Trends can be hashtags, keywords, proper names, current events and a variety of other topics.

Tweeps/Tweeple – Commonly-used slang for Twitter users, usually those who follow you.

Tweet – A message sent on Twitter. Must be 140-characters or less, and can include multimedia links, hashtags, usernames and more.

Unfollow – To stop following a Twitter user. His or her tweets will no longer show up in your timeline.

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