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The Twitter Dictionary

  • Serial Ululer
  • Pioneer
  • Writer

So there we go, you have cracked…you finally created an account on Twitter, the chirping machine that’s famous all over the world. You have searched for your friends, you are “following” them, they are “following” you. You try, in vain, to talk with them like on MSN, but that doesn’t really work…and when you read their tweets, you note, horrified, that they are full of characters and formulas in the stye of cabalistic incantation…

What should you do?

You could leave the site in outrage and never return. Or…

Follow this guide! Since the service only lets you post messages under 140 characters, its users have learnt to find a way around this and create shortened posts which mean more while writing less. We will thus go through Twitter’s unique vocabulary to help you uncover the mysteries of this micro-blogging service, the most widely used this side of the galaxy.


Let’s start easy. A tweet is simply a message posted on Twitter.


Anyone registered on Twitter.


Your “Followings” are the Twittos you follow.


Easy – the Twittos who follow you.

To Tweet

The action of tweeting.

Tweet List (or TL)

The list of all the tweets you receive. Your own tweets appear in the TL of your followers.

The @ Sign

The @ sign is used on Twitter to mention another user. This has two effects:

  • It includes the person you mention in your tweet, and automatically creates a link to their profile.
  • It alerts the person mentioned to your tweet. Your tweet automatically appears on the list of mentions. You have the same list yourself, which records all the tweets in which you have been mentioned.

A matter of accuracy

If you start your tweet with a mention @m this will not necessarily appear on the list of all your followers. It will only appear on the list: 1) of Twittos you have mentioned 2) of Twittos who have followed you and the Twittos you have mentioned.

This function is useful when you engage in conversations that might pollute the list of your followers.

To work around this, simply start your tweet by a character other than the @, most of the Twittos use a single point, which would give:

[email protected] nice haircut, dude!

RT (or re-tweet)

The RT is used in order to circulate a tweet around you which you find interesting. It can be done in two ways:

  • The oldschool RT: Make an RT followed by a mention @, add a little word (or not), and tweet
  • The new RT: Twitter includes the possibility of automatically retweeting tweets. Click on it, choose Retweet and the tweet will appear likes the ones on the Tweetlist of your followers.

As the name indicates, it’s a private message, readable only by you and the recipient Twittos. To send a DM requires you and the target Twittos be reciprocal followers. It’s like that, it’s Twitter’s privacy. You will therefore have access to the "Message" button on their profile. Or you can use the letter "d", on its own, followed by a space and a mention @. Example:

d @barackobama i was joking, you should get the afro hair cut back

#, the HashTag 

The pound character (or hashtag  inEnglish) # is used to create a thematic TweetList on Twitter. It can be used for events, for example, for the last Parisian Nuit Blanche, tweets containing the hashtag # nb10 were automatically integrated to a TL, which brought together all tweets, cool or not, with photos, articles, etc... on the event. The hashtag can be also used to participate in discussions on favorite themes: # LadyGaga # TheSocialNetwork # SexyGirls have thus beautiful days before them and may be a fabulous source of info.

Among them, the # FF (or Follow Friday)
Every Friday, submit your favourite twitters by mentioning them @ on the hashtag # FF, in order to make them discover the world. Often, since Twitter is also about propriety and civility, they will benefit from introducing you in their own # FF. Isn’t that cool?

A last tip
Don’t use spaces when you use a reference @, a hashtag #, or generally any shortcut on Twitter. In most cases, you will break link that Twitter is supposed to generate.

For more info on Twitter, see Twitter: how does it work?

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