What does it mean when a friend or colleague takes a toilet break and uses the term “BRB”
“Be right back”
BRB stands for “right back”. It is used in online messaging and chat when you need to leave your device to do something else temporarily. It is usually used when you will be away for a short time for a quick activity, such as going to the bathroom or opening the door. It means that your conversation partner has to wait for you to return.
It is closely related to the acronym AFK, which stands for ‘away from keyboard’. AFK and BRB can be used interchangeably when someone is taking a break from something. They can also be used together. For example, you can say “AFK BRB” to let others know that you will be away from your computer for a while but will be back soon.
It can also be used with the idiom “hold that thought” or “hold on.” When one of these is used with BRB, it tells the other person to pause what they are saying and continue when the other person returns.
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The origin of BRB
The acronym BRB originated in internet chat rooms in the 1990s. In the early days of Internet Relay Chat (IRC), most people couldn’t set the status as ‘offline’ or ‘away’. That feature later became a staple in direct messaging applications. Typing “BRB” was a way of letting others in the chat room know that you would be away from your computer.
The earliest definition of BRB in the Urban Dictionary dates back to April 2003, although it was used online much earlier. BRB was also often combined with ‘G2G’, a now unpopular internet acronym that stands for ‘must go’. G2G was usually followed by the person’s activity, such as “getting a glass of water” or “answering the phone.”
BRB in chat and online
BRB is most commonly used when chatting or sending messages with others. You can use it with friends, colleagues, relatives and even in professional scenarios. Unlike other internet acronyms, BRB is not always considered informal and can sometimes be used at work.
BRB can also be used in places other than internet chat rooms and messaging apps. For example, many websites undergoing maintenance will post “BRB” on the homepage to let visitors know that it will be back soon. However, in this particular scenario, initialism typically refers to a much longer period of time than a few minutes.
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Conversations and BRB
While people are always connected to their devices these days, taking a little more time to respond to someone’s message isn’t necessarily considered bad. This may make the acronym BRB seem outdated. However, it serves an essential purpose in an engaged conversation.
If you are in the middle of an in-depth discussion, online or via text message, it is considered polite to say “BRB” if you have to leave suddenly. The same is true when you listen to someone tell you a story. BRB is also often used during video calls and conferences where others can see if you are on your computer or not.
Unlike many other internet initials, BRB is also sometimes pronounced out loud instead of ‘right back’. Saying, “BRB, I have to go to the bathroom,” while eating out with others is pretty typical.
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How to use BRB
Using BRB is relatively easy. Since BRB means ‘right back’, you can replace it in scenarios where you would use that phrase.
Below are a few examples of using BRB in a conversation:
- “I have to take this call. BRB. “
- “I’m going to take a shower. Brb.”
- “Hold that thought; brb.”
- Can you pause the movie? I will BRB. “
If you want to understand Internet slang even better, check out our guides on ITT and ICYDK.