Do you have an opinion you want to share on the internet? Consider using the abbreviations IMO and IMHO. Here̵
What they mean
IMO stands for “in my opinion” and IMHO stands for “in my humble opinion” or “in my honest opinion.” IMO and IMHO are largely interchangeable. They are usually used as a disclaimer to indicate that someone’s words should not be taken as fact or as the basis for making an important decision.
Both can also be used at the beginning or end of a sentence like this:
- “IMHO, this is a bad product.”
- “This is a bad product, IMO.”
Both acronyms are also often typed in lowercase “imo” and “imho”. Their uses are similar to that of YMMV (your mileage may vary) in that they are usually used to express that opinions may differ from person to person.
The History of IMO and IMHO
The phrases “in my opinion” and “in my humble opinion” have been used for hundreds of years to imply that someone is about to express his or her personal opinion about something. The abbreviations probably go back to the early days of Internet messaging and chat rooms.
In the 1980s and 1990s, people had much less screen space and less bandwidth, which affected the language used on platforms such as internet relay chat (IRC). As a result, many sentences, including ‘in my opinion’, were shortened to acronyms.
Now, IMO and IMHO are widely used all over the Internet, from message boards and comment sections to social networking sites. It is often seen on Twitter where people often reach large audiences.
In these settings, IMO and IMHO are often used as a disclaimer in an attempt to avoid angry comments. This is why you will often see them both used in online debates and arguments, especially if the topic is open to interpretation, such as the subjective quality of a movie, book or game.
Humble or Honest?
The letter H in IMHO can mean two different things: humble or honest. Although they use the same letter in the acronym, most readers can tell when someone means one or the other.
The original sentence was “in my humble opinion”. When a poster means ‘humble’, this person is trying to express their opinion without appearing arrogant. It confirms that others should take their statement with a grain of salt, as it is only their opinion and not fact. It is often used only to be courteous, by those who do not consider themselves an expert on something, or by someone who is an expert, but does not want to come across as arrogant.
When someone means ‘honest’, their opinion can often seem more critical or harsh. IMHO implies in this case that no one should take offense at what they say because they are just being truthful. This meaning can be synonymous with the acronym TBH (“to be fair”), which is also sometimes used as a disclaimer.
RELATED: What does “TBH” mean and how do you use it?
IMO vs IMHO vs IMNSHO
While IMO doesn’t include the word ‘humble’, it still doesn’t mean anyone is confident in their answer. Therefore, IMO and IMHO are used interchangeably in most situations. But “in my humble opinion” will always come across as the less selfish of the two.
The differences between the two are even more visible when compared to IMNSHO, which stands for “in my not so humble opinion”. This acronym is much less common, but you will sometimes see it when someone brags about their achievements or experiences online.
IMNSHO is usually designed to make someone’s opinion seem authoritative or more serious. However, it normally has the opposite effect, as boasting generally puts people off.
How to use IMO and IMHO
The phrase “in my humble opinion” has been commonly used in English for centuries. It’s fine and completely acceptable to use IMHO or IMO online or when messaging your friends and family.
You can also use them in a variety of situations, whether you’re discussing the news or deciding what to eat. You can also use them on social media and message boards to express your thoughts on something.
Here are a few examples of IMO and IMHO in action:
- ‘IMO, the new Duty is not very good. “
- “It looks better with the blue jacket instead of the green one, IMHO.”
- “IMHO, this pastry tastes better with honey than with sugar.”
- “This is the best camera you can buy, IMO.”
If you want to learn more about other online terms and conditions, be sure to check out our AFAIK and TLDR guides.
RELATED: What does “AFAIK” mean and how do you use it?