New slang is always being born and evolving. Really, slang is a great way of meeting our ever-changing linguistic needs. Think about it: before “cheugy” existed, how did we describe those “Live, Laugh, Love” posters? Still, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the new terms and their meanings. This is especially true with how fast things move on the internet these days. If you’re on TikTok or Twitter, you’ve probably seen the term “ASL.” However, there are a few different meanings that could be behind the acronym.
ASL has been popping up a lot more than usual lately. Many of us are on the same page about its meaning. For those of us who grew up using chat rooms, IM-ing, or spending time on online games like Habbo Hotel or Club Penguin, we may know ASL as something very specific. But, these days, TikTok controls a lot of what we all say and do. And, it looks like ASL’s different meanings are driving yet another wedge between Millennials and Gen-Z. So, what did ASL mean back in the day, and what is the new meaning of ASL?
What Does ASL Mean?
First and foremost, ASL has always been the acronym for American Sign Language. American Sign Language is the main language for the Deaf community in the US. So, for obvious reasons, this remains ASL’s most well-known meaning. If you see ASL in a more formal situation, it’s almost certainly referring to American Sign Language.
However, slang and internet-speak are always changing definitions and assigning double meanings. Back in the (very) early ’00s, ASL (also written as A/S/L) was a popular and well-known acronym. It was common in internet spaces where strangers would find themselves interacting. It stood for Age/Sex/Location. Folks would send the acronym to someone they were chatting with. It would be posed like a question awaiting a response. Then, the other person would respond with their age, sex, and location written in the same format. It was a fairly basic tactic of getting to know people who you couldn’t see or hear, but it was also a useful way of speeding up small talk when meeting someone new—or, at least you could get to know who they wanted you to think they were.
What Does ASL Mean On TikTok?
On Twitter and TikTok, ASL has come to have yet another meaning, and it’s confusing folks who may have used the acronym in the past. So, what’s the newest meaning of ASL on TikTok? “As hell.” If you’re wondering how “as hell” could be shortened to ASL, you’re not alone. We all know what AF stands for, but maybe AH looked too much like a scream to stand for “as hell.” Without any real etymology on the new “as hell,” we’ll never really know how this slang came to be. Still, the new slang term is causing its fair share of confusion. And, like many TikTok trends and slang, it’s shedding more light on millennial and gen-z differences.
In spite of the many different hats “ASL” wears in internet-speak, of course, the acronym’s most official meaning still rings true even on TikTok. The #ASL hashtag is used within the Deaf community and others to talk about sign language. Ultimately, context clues are the only way to figure out which type of “ASL” someone is using, but knowing all of the meanings certainly helps.