What Does HMU, BRB, & SMH Mean On Snapchat? Slang Explained

On the internet, formal language is lame. Nowhere on the world wide web is this more true than Snapchat, a platform used mainly by 18-29 year olds. That informality is best expressed through slang words like HMU, BRB, and SMH.

HMU means “Hit Me Up.” BRB means “Be Right Back”, and SMH means “Shaking My Head” on Snapchat.

Contrary to what some think, these acronyms aren’t evidence of youthful laziness. Rather, they communicate the relaxed and casual nature of using the app.

It allows them to pass comprehensive information in one or two lines of text with complete confidence that the receiver understands them.

Hence, understanding Snapchat slang is the key to enjoying and getting the most out of the app.

Whether you’re a parent snooping on your child’s online activities or a non-native English speaker looking to make English-speaking friends, let’s find out more about these and other Snapchat slang.

What Does HMU Mean?

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HMU means “Hit Me Up.” In practical terms, it’s an invitation for someone to contact you. It’s used instead of longer forms like “text me” or “let’s talk.”

Other variations are HMUL (Hit me up Later) and HMUS (Hit me up some time).

The slang itself does not refer to a particular medium. It can be via text, call or even face to face.

When the user means a specific medium, they usually state it alongside the acronym like “HMU on Facebook” or “HMU on the phone.”

However, when they don’t specify, it typically means to contact them via Snapchat later, or the preferred mode of communication between both parties.

Interestingly, the abbreviation existed before Snapchat. It first appeared on Urban Dictionary in 2009 and was in widespread usage by the end of 2010. A year later, Snapchat was released.

HMU is tone agnostic. You can use it as a friendly invitation or as permission or directive. If someone used HMU as a directive, they are not hoping for you to contact them. They expect you to do it.

Also, it’s frequently not capitalized and typically appears as “hmu.” I’m capitalizing mine, so it is easier to read.

Finally, HMU is not native to Snapchat. It is also frequently used on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, among others. The meaning is the same.

How to Use HMU?

image source: Dennis Cherkashin

It’s not enough to know the meaning of HMU. You should also know the right way to use it. Not just how it fits, but the who, where, and frequency of use are important if you want to use it right.

First, you should only use HMU in text. This can be via messaging, social media apps, or even email. Avoid using the abbreviation in person during conversation. It’s a social faux pas.

Second, HMU is best used when chatting with friends and colleagues. It’s only appropriate in informal conversations with your peers or someone you have a casual relationship with.

Do not use HMU with your boss or in any official conversation.

Third, do not overuse it. The allure of HMU as a slang is the fun spin it puts on routine requests. Overusing it drains out the fun.

If you need to use the slang in succession, mix things up with an emoji. You can convey the same message with the “call me” (hand with pinky fingers out) emoji or the DM emoji (arrow pointing to phone).

Feel free to alternate between either variation when you want to be specific.

Check out a few examples of how to use HMU on Snapchat:

“Someone HMU. I’m boreddd” – getting someone to message you

“It’s been a while since we hung out. Hmu some time” – using it as an open invitation

“Hey I just got a huge TV hmu if you want watch some Netflix” – to flirt with someone

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How to Respond to HMU?

image source: Esther Wechsler

There are different ways to respond to this acronym. Ideally, when someone sends you HMU, the expectation is to send them a message or give them a call. You could reply with something like, “Yo, got your text, what’s up?”

The fitting reply depends on the context of the “hmu.” For instance, the correct response for the “I’m boredd” example above will differ from the open invitation example.

But you don’t have to respond if you don’t want to. If someone you don’t wish to talk to sends you HMU in any context, don’t feel the need to reply. You can simply ignore it. Or send them a message to that effect.

“Sorry I can’t today. Maybe another time.”

Other Meanings of HMU

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“Hit me up” is the most popular meaning of the abbreviation, but it’s not the only interpretation. HMU can also mean “Hook me up.”

When used this way, they are asking you to connect them with something or someone. Here are a few examples:

“Heard you got tickets to the show, can you hmu?

“Planning something for my girl’s birthday. Hmu with your event planner.”

Hit Me Up can also mean to beg for or take something. In fact, it is the original meaning of the phrase when it emerged in the 90s. Back then, people would say things like:

“My brother just hmu for gas” – my brother just asked me for gas money

“The Feds just hit up that casino” – The Feds just raided that casino

While this meaning is still in use, it’s not as popular as the everyday Snapchat meaning. So, how do you know when an HMU is referring to its alternate meanings? The answer is context.

Pay attention to how the sender uses the word and the subject of the conversation.

Also Read: How To Enable Snapchat Parental Monitoring On Your Child’s Device?

What Does BRB Mean?

image source: Danica Mitchell

BRB, another Snapchat favorite, means “be right back.” It is used to tell the recipient when you have to leave the chat for a short time.

It can be anything from a quick dash to the bathroom, doing the dishes, or running an errand. The defining implication of using BRB is to tell the user that you will be back soon.

Because of that, BRB also carries implied meanings like telling someone to “hold that thought” or “hold tight.”

Like HMU, BRB’s history goes back further than Snapchat. It’s an evolution of the old acronym, AFK, which means “away from keyboard,” from the early days of online chat when there was no way to see a person’s last seen or read receipts.

AFK, and subsequently, BRB, was a polite way of letting someone know you’re not ignoring their messages.

Back then, BRB wasn’t a standalone acronym. People often used it in conjunction with G2G (got to go), which has now fallen out of internet favor.

So, a person might say, “g2g doing the dishes brb”, meaning they have to go do the dishes but will be back to the chat soon.

How to Use BRB?

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Status signals like last seen and green dots have reduced BRB usage in textual conversations. However, it remains in use, especially on Snapchat. You can also use it on other social platforms and messaging apps.

Unlike HMU, BRB is usable in any circumstance because it’s not always considered informal. You can use it with friends, colleagues, family members, and even during official work conversations.

This flexibility means you can use it outside chat rooms and messaging apps. It’s not uncommon for web admins to write BRB on their homepage when their website is under maintenance.

You can say BRB out loud in person. Instead of a wordy “be right back,” you can say, “Got to pick this call, brb.”

There is also no stylistic rule to writing BRB. You can type it in all uppercase, lowercase, or sentence case. It can be on its own or part of a phrase.

All these only means there’s no wrong way to use BRB. Whether you’re in the middle of a serious discussion or while bantering with a friend, it’s okay to send “brb” — even without an explanation — if you suddenly have to leave.

Here are a few more examples:

“Brb I have to run a quick errand for my mom”

“Hold that thought, brb”

“BRB Work in Progress”

“Hmu in 10 minutes, I’ll brb.”

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How to Respond to BRB?

image source: Christian Wiediger

Generally, you’re not expected to respond to BRB. It’s a temporary pause in the conversation, and it will continue when the person returns.

But if you’re the type who likes having the last word, a simple “alright” or emoji response is fine as acknowledgment.

As always, this depends on the context. If it’s in the middle of an ongoing chat with more than two people, the rest should continue the conversation. When they return, they can read the chat for whatever they’ve missed.

Another way to return is to continue texting as if they are online. BRB here only serves to adjust your expectations. They are currently unavailable to respond immediately, but they will eventually.

This type of ‘response’ mainly works when the text chain is a story or a rant.

What Does SMH Mean?

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If you’ve come across SMH on Snapchat, it means “shaking my head.” SMH can also mean “so much hate,” but this is an obscure meaning of the word.

SMH, as commonly used, is shorthand for expressing displeasure or disappointment. The movement most of us make when we aren’t pleased with an answer or outcome.

Snapchat users, and online texters who use the acronym across social media, use it to insert attitude into their words.

It’s also a way to convey negative feelings without creating tension. So, instead of saying, “Your comments are irresponsible and make me sick,” SMH passes the message without starting a fight.

Although not as commonly used, it has its variation; SMDH, which means “shaking my damn head.” It means the same thing, and some people use it to emphasize their response.

Unlike HMU and BRB, no one is quite sure where the acronym came from. We know it came before Snapchat and was first added to Urban Dictionary in 2004, alongside a similar expression, “facepalm.” The specific origin, however, remains a mystery.

Also, SMH doesn’t have a specific feeling. It represents a spectrum of disgust and disappointment that the three-letter word can’t always convey. A person might playfully SMH or angrily SMH. There’s no way to know which is which via text.

That’s why it is no longer in widespread use like the other two acronyms. Instead, users use “SMH” GIFs to convey a specific meaning.

Also Read: How To Find Deleted Friends On Snapchat?

How to Use SMH?

image source: Mikel Parera

Based on the preceding paragraphs, it may seem the best way to use SMH is via GIFs. If you’re going the GIF route, you can find plenty of ideas from GIPHY, Reaction GIFs, or Gyfcat.

But if you prefer to text the word itself, there aren’t a lot of rules involved.

Ideally, you should know it’s only fitting to express disgust, disappointment, or shock. It also works as a joke, as one might do after hearing or seeing something ridiculous in real life.

Beyond that context, you can deploy SMH as you see fit. You can use it at the beginning of an expression, alone, or the end of the phrase.

It even works in the middle of a sentence. Some consider this the most appropriate way to use the word since it mirrors how the action is performed in real life. But there’s no rule to this.

The internet slang is self-explanatory enough that the recipient will understand it however you use it. Here are some examples.

“You don’t know who One Direction is? Smh”

“SMH I just spilled tea on myself”

“That’s genuinely the worst thing you’ve ever said smh”

“Did you hear about Clark and Lara? Smh can’t believe she did that”

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How to Respond to SMH?

image source: Jonas Leupe

The right way to respond to SMH depends on how someone uses it. If they are using it to voice their disapproval or disappointment, your response might be making your case.

Say you get a text similar to the One Direction example above, you might reply with something like: “You know I’m an old soul”

Or you can fire back with a playful retort of your own like: “Not my fault I don’t speak virgin”

If the user is using SMH on themselves, like in the second example, you can sympathize or pile on. It all depends on your dynamic with said person.

In this case, you might reply with: “oh no, I hope it wasn’t direct contact.”

I’m sure you understand these Snapchat slang better now and know how to use them. But HMU, BRB, and SMH are only three of the widely used slang on Snapchat. Let’s take a look at a few more.

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Other Widely-Used Snapchat Acronyms


image source: Taras Chernus

TBH is another popular Snapchat acronym, but it is not native to Snapchat. It means “to be honest,” and the slang is used to communicate that you’re speaking frankly. It also came out of the 90s and 2000s and remains part of internet culture today.

One of the reasons TBH is popular is it combines well with other acronyms and internet speaks. You can combine TBH with HMU, BRB, or SMH. It also works with regular phrases.

Here are some examples:

“Tbh I’m angry. Hmu when you’re home. Need to rant”

“I don’t like your taste in movies, tbh”

“I can’t do this right now tbh brb”


This acronym means Everyone Snap Back. The word is native to Snapchat, and it’s used to request everyone who sees it to send a Snap to the user. Usually, as a way to maintain snap streaks.

ESB is commonly used in stories or group chats since it’s a mass call to action. Outside of Snapchat, ESB means Empire Strike Back, and it’s used chiefly among Star Wars fans.

Back on Snapchat, you might use ESB like this:

“50 days and counting – ESB”

“I’m bored, esb”


image source: Mick Haupt

Streak is not so much a Snapchat acronym or slang as it is a feature unique to the app. It counts how many days two people have been sending snaps to each other consecutively.

The higher the number, the longer the streak and Snapchat rewards users with longer streaks with special emojis.

To the young people who use the app, streak is a measure of the quality of your social connections. Longer streaks are considered proof of friendship, and having multiple long streaks is proof of popularity and success on Snapchat.


NRS means No Replies. Snapchat users use it when they want to tell someone that they can’t reply or send snaps. It works like BRB, but this acronym is specific to Snaps.

There are different contexts where it may be appropriate to send NRS. As with most acronyms, there are no rules. But here are some examples:

“Going to sleep, NRS”

“NRS in 5 minutes. Entering the parking lot now”

“Going to lose my streak. Can’t NRS because no charger”


image source: Matt Seymour

Another Snapchat-based acronym, SFS means Snap for Snap or shout out for shout out. The variation, S4S, also means the same thing.

Its primary purpose is to initiate a promotion exchange between another Snapchat user. Users primarily use it as part of efforts to keep their streaks going.


“Hey, doing SFS 30 day streak, you in?

“This is my first SFS of the day”

“HMU if you want SFS”

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MMS has two meanings. For the younger population that dominates Snapchat, MMS means “made me smile.” To the older population who make up the minority, it means Multimedia Messaging Service.

It first appeared in Urban dictionary in 2009 as an alternative to LOL. Because of that, it works in most of the scenarios that Lol does. Except, of course, as an answer to an uncomfortable statement. MMS is primarily used in a positive context.

“This gif mms”

“Mms thanks for texting me”

“Just looking at that burger mms”


image source: Markus Winkler

No, it’s not chemistry-related. On Snapchat, ION means “in other news.” It is used to change the subject. You can use it when you feel a conversation has been on a topic for too long.

ION is also another way of saying “I don’t.” Both meanings are relatively popular, and the user typically gives context clues for the correct interpretation.


“Why would you doubt me? Ion lie”

“Ion know what to say, bro. I’m tired too”

“Can’t believe Sara said that. Anyway, ion, my dresser arrived”

“Ion, Snapchat got back to me. Got the job”

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The obvious meaning is Instagram. It’s the one anyone who isn’t familiar with Snapchat lingo understands. And it is true, even IG can mean Instagram on Snapchat, but that’s not why it’s here.

On Snapchat, IG can also mean “I guess.” The acronym is part of several others used by young people to make routine phrases fun and catchy.

Knowing both meanings exist, the true meaning in each circumstance depends on the context.

“I ordered the dress off IG” – Instagram

“ig I don’t have to go out anymore” – I guess


image source: Artem Beliaikin

Envy is not a shameful emotion, but it is inescapable. Snapchat users use MBN to express it politely. It means “must be nice,” that is, they would love to be you at that moment.

MBN usually follows as a response to something. It could be a text, snap, or even something in real life. It applies whenever you wish you were in someone else’s shoes.

Say a friend just added a story of themselves dancing in the club, you can reply with “mbn.” You can also use it even if you’re not referring to the receiver.


“Mbn to be retired, I’m tired of working”

“Did you hear? James is in Mexico. mbn”

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It’s a wrap! Snapchat was designed to be fun, so it’s no surprise that its users freely use acronyms in their texts.

As an outsider looking in, it can be hard to keep up with the meanings and sometimes double meanings of different acronyms.

Don’t try to keep up. Focus on the context, and you will eventually figure it out. Got any acronyms you don’t know? Hmu in the comments.

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.