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Twictionary – a glossary of Twitter terms

Twictionary – a glossary of  Twitter terms

By Mark Robson, Insight Group.

Like any good technology product, Twitter has a language all of its own. So a quick whizz through some of the language that is used in the Twitter environment.

There are lots of ‘unofficial’ Twitter terms like Twitaholic, meaning someone who can’t stop Tweeting (a bit like being a CrackBerry – someone who is addicted to BlackBerry messaging) or Dweet, meaning a Tweet sent while drunk!

But here we’ve just focused on some of the more serious business Twitter terms: 

140 character limit
Twitter messages are meant to be short. Most people don’t even go up to the 140 character limit when posting a tweet. This is the reason for utilities like URL shorteners such as TinyURL, which we’ll get to later in this list.

The act of blocking a particular user name from following your tweets. You block someone by clicking on their profile and choosing “Block” on the right sidebar.

Direct Message (DM)
This stands for direct message, which is the Twitter equivalent of a one-to-one e-mail. To DM a Tweet, click on “Direct Message” on their profile and type out your message. Only the recipient @username sees your email.

Keep in mind that you cannot send Direct Messages to people that are not following you, even if you are following them. This is Twitter’s built-in spam protection.

DM is used as shorthand in a Tweet to indicate that you want someone to send you a message directly or to thank them for a direct message e.g. ‘Send me your email address in DM’.

The whale logo that pops up when the Twitter service crashes/is busy:

If you see a Tweet that you would like to keep for reference or come back to later on you can ‘Favorite a Tweet’. In the Twitter page click the star by their name, in other applications click the Favorite or FAV icon. This will then create a shortcut to that Tweet for reviewing later.

You can either sign up to follow other Twitter users or they can sign up to follow you. If you follow someone, it simply means that you automatically receive that person’s Twitter updates.

Each time that person posts an update on Twitter, it appears on your Twitter home page instantly. Updates for all the people you follow appear in reverse chronological order with the most recent update on top of the page.

Anyone following you will see your Tweets automatically displayed in their Twitter page.

Hashtags, such as #infosec for “Information Security”, denote groupings on Twitter for popular, commonly referenced items. You can follow updates on hashtags in real time at They were developed as a means to create groupings on Twitter.

In order to have hashtags tracked you need to start following @hashtags on Twitter. It will then follow you automatically and your use of any hashtags will be tracked.

Locking Your Profile
You can “lock” your profile so that only friends can see your updates. This may deprive you of followers who would have otherwise followed you based on keywords in your posts and isn’t advised for general use, but can be useful for a closed group such as a corporate support Twitter ID.

A Mistweet is a tweet that you will regret! Twitter is immediate, once you click send everyone following you gets your Tweet. You can delete your Tweets on your profile page, but everyone on your follow list will still have seen it when it was posted. This term is in here as a warning!

@reply precedes messages sent from one person to another that are public. In other words, anyone who can see your Twitter updates can see the @replies that you send or that are sent to you, whether or not they are following you or you are following them.

These messages appear on Twitter updates as @username (with “username” replaced by the person’s actual username from their Twitter account).

Re-Tweeting is the process whereby you repost (forward) someone else’s Twitter post on your feed. RT #usernameyouarerequotingfrom “text of the Re-Tweet”. Following this convention you are showing that it is a Re-Tweet and including the full @username so others on your list can choose to follow them if they like it.

Name of one of the popular URL shortening services which trims URL lengths to allow for inclusion in twitter messages. (

A great way to help you stay in the 140 characters but still push people towards a key web page or blog entry. An example of this is shown here which you can try by clicking on both links: 

Actual URL:

Trimmed URL on Tiny URL: 

Twitter handle (@username)
The name you chose to represent yourself when you signed up for Twitter. This is displayed at the beginning of any Twitter messages from you in the format ‘@username...’

When a Twitter user posts an update to their Twitter account, that update is often referred to as a “Tweet” and the user is said to have “Tweeted”. Tweet can be used as a noun, referring to the actual written update, or a verb, referring to the action of publishing an update.

A Twitter user.

If you want to learn more about social media, come to the UTalkMarketing Social Media Skills Accelerator training course where you will learn all the skills and practical knowledge you need.

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