"ROFL" stands for rolling on the floor laughing but has been mushed into other words with their own meanings. Two examples:

Ouch, that was a roflstomp.

I'm on a roflcopter!

While these are in questionable status as English words, should I pronounce them?

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    with the invention of Internet, and the shift to text-based communication as the primary means of communicating, many words are coined that are never meant to be pronounced. I would advise against using them in speech except for discussion about the words themselves. And in those discussions, it is always fun to start with arguing whose pronunciation is right. – Lie Ryan May 2 '11 at 23:58
  • @Lie: Point taken. ;) – MrHen May 3 '11 at 0:08

ROFL (pronounced /ˈroʊfəl/ or /ˈrɒfəl/):

Teenagers now sometimes use them in spoken communication as well as in written, with ROFL (pronounced /ˈroʊfəl/ or /ˈrɒfəl/) and LOL (pronounced /ˈloʊl/, /ˈlɒl/, or /ˌɛloʊˈɛl/), for example.

  • Can you rhyme that first example with anything? Does /ˈroʊ/ sound like 'low'? If it does..that doesn't sound right! – Mitch May 3 '11 at 2:23
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    +1 purely for finding some outside source with a listed pronunciation but the real source was Wikipedia and that portion was edited out in May 2010 as unsourced. So, good find but unfortunately not very authoritative. – MrHen May 4 '11 at 17:54
  • +1 @MrHen getting a +1 from you is an end in and of itself haha – Paul Amerigo Pajo May 5 '11 at 19:38
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    @page: Hey now, I've handed out over 400 upvotes... ;) – MrHen May 5 '11 at 20:19
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    I accepted this answer over the others for two reasons: (a) it included IPA and (b) had some form of reference which, albeit not a very good one, was better than the other answers. – MrHen May 10 '11 at 2:44

Of course, you should avoid using them at all in anything formal. If for some reason you need to discuss them formally, I would say R-O-F-L-copter (spell it out).

Otherwise, think of it as "roffle" (RAW-ful; rhymes with waffle). I've never heard it pronounced otherwise, whether amongst my nerdy friends or in internet videos.

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    I concur with "roffle," but in my idiolect, it doesn't rhyme with "waffle," but sounds more like "rah-ful." – The Raven May 3 '11 at 0:00
  • @the-raven "Rah-ful" rhymes with "waffle", doesn't it? How are you pronouncing waffle? – keithjgrant May 3 '11 at 0:11
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    To me, "waffle" rhymes with "awful." Exactly as in the post above, i.e., "RAW-ful." This is why contrastive pairs are so useful in determining English dialect (caught vs cot, bought vs bot, etc.). – The Raven May 3 '11 at 0:17
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    @The Raven: yeah true, in my idiolect, "wish" rhymes with "ghoti" – Lie Ryan May 3 '11 at 0:42
  • @The Raven: I don't merge cot with caught either, but for me the vowel of waffle is the same as that of father, which is distinct from both. Even if you merge father and bother, I find it odd that your father and awful have the same vowel, assuming your awful and caught do. I'm guessing you're from the South? – Jon Purdy May 3 '11 at 2:57

Raw-Full. roflwaffle.

I don't think their status as words is "questionable". I think it's glaringly obvious that they aren't words. Haha.

  • You laugh now, but doh is a word. I suspect pwn will eventually be included as a variant of own and both will include the newer usage. Language will evolve with or without your approval. :) – MrHen May 3 '11 at 0:13
  • Haha, Yeah I know. – MikeVaughan May 3 '11 at 0:16
  • @MikeVaughan: I think the last laugh will indeed be on you. My dictionary doesn't even recognise your Haha as a word (still hyphenated according to them). And @MrHen - don't get your hopes up for pwn yet - let's see if it's still current in a decade or so. – FumbleFingers May 3 '11 at 1:13
  • I know someone who pronounces "pwn". It makes me cringe every time she says it. – staticsan May 3 '11 at 2:13
  • Yeah, @FumbleFingers - I would agree that a lot of the words being referenced here memes and have a high probability of falling out of usage with time. Still, with 'LOL' and others having recently been accepted into the OED, who is to say... – Karl May 3 '11 at 3:08

Old-timey Unix sysadmins laugh at your puny human attempts at pronunciation.

The words are pronounced the way they're spelt. [Yes, spelt. Look it up if you don't believe me.]

With a nod to Victor Borge's phonetic punctuation, Unix geeks in the old days used to be able to pronounce things like "/usr/local/bin/*.exe" or "$PATH" sufficiently unambiguously to be able to help with system installation problems over the phone (before e-mail was common). In particular, the pronunciation of "usr" and "user" was clearly distinguished. Probably it helped that everyone had learnt English through phonics.

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    Can you add an explicit pronunciation, though? Otherwise, this doesn't really answer my question. :) – MrHen Jul 6 '14 at 16:16

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