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What does DM mean? Understanding the popular internet shorthand that refers to private messaging

  • DM is an acronym for a private “direct message” sent online.
  • The term gained popularity on Facebook and Twitter, where you can send and receive direct messages for private communication separate from your public feed.
  • The “DM” terminology as it’s used now can refer to private messages on any number of social media services that host messaging, including Instagram, Discord, and Twitch.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you aren’t one to live online, you may not be familiar with the internet-associated colloquialism of “sliding into the DMs.”

However, casual internet users should probably acquaint themselves with the meaning of “DM,” and unless you’re the designated Dungeon Master among “Dungeons and Dragons” players, DM as it applies to you most likely stands for “direct message.”

Here’s a rundown of where you’ll see the “DM” acronym, what some of the other terms are for a “DM,” and ways to use it in everyday scenarios.

What does DM mean?

A “DM,” or direct message, is shorthand for any type of communication on an online, social platform where a message is sent — privately — from one user to another user.

Consequently, another term you might hear as a substitute for “DM” is a “PM,” which stands for “private message.” PMs first originated on Facebook Messenger, where the term initially took off. Now, it’s interchangeable with DMs.

The “DM” term originates from Twitter, but the abbreviation is associated with a host of platforms these days, including Instagram.

DMs are also known as “Whispers” 

On the popular streaming platform

Twitch
, the platform’s terminology for when you privately message another user is called “Whispers.”

But regardless, the catchy “DM” phrase is so ubiquitous that you’ll see the abbreviation all over Twitch chats — i.e., you’re more likely to see content creators request a user to “send me a DM” rather than “send me a Whisper.”

Ways you might use or encounter the term “DM”

One way you might indicate to the world that you’re available and willing to receive and read direct messages from unknown individuals is by announcing, “My DMs are open” — a tactic you’ll see used by journalists on Twitter looking for scoops.

“DM” is also a term popular in apps like Discord and

Slack
, where group-wide conversing is the general appeal. You might request of a person or a small group of people, “DM me instead” or “privately message me,” whenever you want to share side chatter that’s either privileged or less pertinent to the larger group. DMs are common ways of interacting one-to-one in work settings, and in larger threads and channels. 

Just be careful how you use the aforementioned “sliding into the DMs” phrase — it’s a cheeky way to use “DM” that refers to soliciting someone’s attention with a message, typically in a flirtatious way. If done tastefully, the gesture can be appreciated; however, there’s a fine line between bold and disrespectful. 



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