tl;dr or TL; DR or tldr [tee-el-dee-ahr]
What does tl;dr mean?
Tl;dr stands for "too long; didn't read."
While the internet acronym can criticize a piece of writing as overly long, it often is used to give a helpful, witty, or snarky summary of a much longer story or complicated phenomenon.
- cool story, bro
- teal dear
- too lazy, didn't read
Examples of TL;DR
Where does TL;DR come from?
The abbreviation tl;dr is found on a Usenet newsgroup about video games as early as 2002 and earned entry on Urban Dictionary by the following year. Originally, tl;dr was an insult, used in reaction to some post, comment, or content seen as wordy or longwinded—as if literally saying “This is way too long, so I didn’t read it.”
By 2005, tl;dr had taken on a second meaning as a shorthand for a “summary,” frequently called the tl;dr version of a longer account or article. Tl;dr took off with social media in the 2010s, boosted by the practice of linking out to longer content on platforms like Twitter while offering a quick take on it.
Memes sometimes use tl;dr to suggest prominent figures haven’t read some text they claim to value, like the Bible or US Constitution.
Who uses TL;DR?
Tl;dr can give a genuine summary of a much longer piece—the gist, the big takeaway, the moral of the story.
This analysis 🙌 🙌. Tldr: string theory is a prime example of how social power dynamics have a huuuuuge impact on what science gets done. https://t.co/AZPW8RjnOa
— Jenna Freudenburg (@TheJFreud) October 25, 2017
This is the schtick of one film review site, TL;DR Movies, which opens each review with a brief judgment before going into its longer view, like this tl;dr on Avengers: Infinity Wars: “TL;DR – Infinity War brings everyone together and then tares them apart leaving you with a foreboding as to what will happen next, but also an excitement as they try to work it all out.”
People might also use tl;dr in personal accounts along the lines of “to make a long story short” or “to get to the point”:
Very TL;DR I got fired cuz I’m bipolar and finding jobs has been shit cuz I’m trans/gay, so I dropped my prices >50%
✨DM or email me (c.jordan4996@gmail) with any questions
✨Donate if (you’d like) at https://t.co/J0o3VDXtIb
Please RT even if you can’t commission me, it helps! pic.twitter.com/ShgK8hsf0K
— i smell like beef (@uranusorbiter) May 15, 2018
Tl;dr can also issue a snarky take on a longer, more complex topic, as if boiling it down to its essence.
TLDR: the “women take on average 20 minutes to orgasm” statistic is literally non-existent. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ https://t.co/x3qQFDm2e9
— Annemie (@writersbleedink) May 16, 2018
One might dismiss a document seen as overly long with a tl;dr, like those ridiculously long and dense “Terms of Service” forms we always sign without ever reading.
— Women Techmakers Berlin (@wtm_berlin) May 16, 2018
Occasionally, tl;dr can stand for too lazy, didn’t read, sometimes used when a person makes fun of their own short attention span.
Based on its form, others humorously call and imagine tl;dr as a teal deer, a kind of spirit animal guiding us through the wilderness of too much internet content.
know your meme
This is not meant to be a formal definition of TL;DR like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of TL;DR that will help our users expand their word mastery.