The common Internet abbreviation “lol” (for “laughing out loud”) began as an expression of amusement or satirical contempt: “My brother-in-law thought the hollandaise sauce was gravy and poured it all over his mashed potatoes (lol).”

It has become much overused, often to indicate mere surprise or emphasis with no suggestion of humor: “The boss just told us we have to redo the budget this afternoon (lol).” And some people drop it into their prose almost at random, like a verbal hiccup. It is no longer considered hip or sophisticated, and you won’t impress or entertain anyone by using it.

Note that this initialism has had two earlier meanings: “Little Old Lady” and “Lots Of Love.”

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