AFK Meaning: What Does AFK Mean and Stand for?

Last Updated on June 21, 2023

What is “AFK”? What does this texting abbreviation stand for? Learn the definition, usage and other meanings for this internet acronym with interesting conversation examples and ESL infographic.

Key Takeaways

  • AFK is an abbreviation for “away from keyboard,” indicating temporary unavailability.
  • Originated in the 1990s, the term gained popularity in chat rooms and online gaming.
  • Often used alongside other acronyms, such as BRB, to provide context about absence duration.

AFK Meaning

What Does AFK Mean?

AFK is the fastest way to say “away from the keyboard”.

This internet slang term will help others know you aren’t just ignoring them. People will use ‘afk’ many times when playing online games and wanting to leave their game online while they are busy at work and/or school. You can also use this if you are talking in a chat and want the other person to know you aren’t near your device.

Back in the 90’s ‘afk’ was started in online chat rooms and began to grow as the go-to phrase used in online gaming today. It is especially used in MMO games (Massively Multiplayer Online).

Origin of AFK

Multiplayer Games

AFK, which stands for “away from keyboard,” has its roots in the early days of online gaming. Specifically, the acronym emerged during the rise of massive multiplayer online games (MMOs) like World of Warcraft, where player communication was crucial. Players used the term to indicate they were stepping away from their computers, allowing their teammates and opponents to understand their temporary absence in the game. As online gaming continued to grow, the use of AFK became more widespread, transitioning from MMOs to various types of games across different platforms.


The practice of using AFK can be traced back to the internet culture of the 1990s, when Internet Relay Chat (IRC) chat rooms were at their peak. It was a common abbreviation for users who wanted to inform others that they would be taking a short break. The history of AFK even extends back to an online news bulletin from FidoNews in 1989, alongside other emoticons and abbreviations.

Over time, the AFK acronym transcended just gaming and online chat rooms, permeating internet culture more broadly. Today, AFK is used in various online communities and platforms as a simple shorthand for being away from one’s device. While the term is still predominantly used within the gaming sphere, its adoption by different groups demonstrates its impact on the internet lexicon.

Related Terms to AFK

Related Acronyms and Slang

In the world of online communication, various abbreviations and slang terms have emerged to make communication more efficient and convenient. This section discusses a few related acronyms and slang terms that are often used alongside AFK (Away From Keyboard).


BRB” stands for “Be Right Back.” This abbreviation is commonly used to let others know that you will be stepping away from your keyboard for a brief period but will return shortly. It is often utilized in online chats, messaging platforms, and gaming communities.


Another popular abbreviation is “TTYL,” which stands for “Talk To You Later.” This term is used when someone is leaving a conversation or chat, typically with the intention of returning or reconnecting at a later time. Like AFK and BRB, TTYL is widely used in various online platforms to quickly communicate one’s current availability.


“AFIRE” is an abbreviation that stands for “Away From Internet REality.” This term is used to indicate that someone is temporarily stepping away from an online environment to face their real-life responsibilities or situations. Similar to AFK, AFIRE highlights the distinction between the online and offline worlds.


“AFL” is short for “Away From Life,” another slang term often used in the online community. This abbreviation implies that someone is entirely engrossed in their online activities and may not be aware of or responding to events happening in their offline life.


Lastly, “NGL” is an abbreviation for “Not Gonna Lie.” This term is used to preface a statement that might be brutally honest, blunt, or potentially controversial. NGL is typically used in informal online conversations to convey candid opinions or feelings without any sugarcoating.

Other Meanings

  • All for Kill (gaming)
  • Absolute Frequency Keying
  • Astronomy For Kids
  • Away From Kitchen
  • A Free Kick
  • A Free Kill computer game
  • Anderson, Flesher, and Key
  • Absolutely Fearless King
  • Amazingly Fat Kid
  • Artifical Friendly Killer

AFK Examples

AFK Examples in Texting and Social Post


AFK, which stands for “away from keyboard,” is a common abbreviation used in chat rooms, messaging apps, and internet slang. Its purpose is to let others know that a person is temporarily unavailable to respond to messages or engage in conversation. In texting and online chats, users often utilize the abbreviation to inform others that they are stepping away briefly and will be back shortly. For example:

  • Person A: “Hey, are you free to chat?”
  • Person B: “AFK for a moment, will be back soon.”
  • Person A: “No problem, take your time.”

The use of AFK in conversations allows for a clear and concise notification to others that someone may not be available to answer messages promptly. This can be particularly useful in group chats, where multiple people are engaging in conversation.

Social Posts

AFK can also be used in social media posts to indicate that a person may be temporarily inactive or unavailable. This can be helpful for followers to understand why there may be a lack of activity or engagement from the user. For example:

  • “AFK: Taking a short break from social media. Be back soon!”
  • “Feeling overwhelmed – going AFK for a few days to recharge.”

Utilizing AFK in social media communicates a sense of understanding that everyone sometimes needs a break or time away from their devices. It’s a useful and universally recognized term that can help easily convey the need for some time away from the online world.

Conversation Examples

Example 1:

  • Girl Texter: Hey babe!
  • Boy Texter: How are you?
  • Girl Texter: I will brb.
  • Boy Texter: You have a good day?
  • Boy Texter: ??
  • Boy Texter: You there?
  • Boy Texter: Are you mad at me?
  • Boy Texter: Fine don’t answer.
  • Girl Texter: I was afk, omg
  • Boy Texter: o

One of the best reasons to tell someone ‘afk’ is when you are truly away from your keyboard. Here you watch a guy getting upset because he assumes the girl is still watching her device even though she is clearly nowhere near it.

  • brb – Be Right Back
  • o – Oh

Example 2:

While walking around an MMO game such as WOW (World Of Warcraft) you will find player characters sitting and standing in random locations not moving. When you walk up to them and check to see if you can interact with them, you will see their online status is marked as ‘afk’.

AFK Meaning Infographic


Frequently Asked Questions

What are common uses of AFK in gaming?

AFK, meaning “away from keyboard,” is often used in gaming to let other players know that someone will be temporarily unavailable. This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as needing a quick break, getting a snack, or addressing a real-life interruption. The term helps communicate these brief absences without disrupting the flow of the game.

How does AFK relate to AFK Arena?

AFK Arena is a popular mobile game that utilizes the concept of being “away from keyboard.” In this game, heroes continuously battle and progress even when the player is not actively engaged, allowing for passive progression. The game’s name capitalizes on the AFK concept, emphasizing the idea that progress can be made even when not actively playing.

What is the connection between AFK and IRC?

AFK originated in the early days of online chat platforms, such as Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Back then, users would frequently use “AFK” to inform others that they were not at their keyboards and couldn’t respond to messages. The term has since expanded to other applications, such as online gaming and texting, but its roots lie in online chatrooms like IRC.

How does AFK meaning differ in a military context?

In a military context, AFK typically stands for “away from the keyboard” but can also signify “away from keyboard training” for personnel working in IT or communications roles. However, this usage is less common and may not be understood outside of specific military or technical settings.

What are some similar abbreviations to AFK?

Several abbreviations convey a similar idea as AFK:

  • BRB: “Be right back”
  • GTG or G2G: “Got to go” or “Good to go”
  • BBL: “Be back later”

These abbreviations share the idea of temporary unavailability but may vary in the length of the implied absence.

Can you give an example of using AFK in a sentence?

Here’s a simple example of using AFK in an online gaming context: “Hey team, I’m AFK for a minute – someone’s at the door.” This sentence communicates the player’s brief absence in a concise and clear manner.

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