The Meaning of FOMO, YOLO And More

You probably won’t have any FOMO for using acronyms after this article.

You may know the meaning of FOMO or YOLO like the back of your hand. In this day and age, phrases are thrown around so much in their acronym form that it’s hard to remember a time where we just used, well, phrases. But while these acronyms might be more common than not for you, we can bet the origins of them will be unfamiliar to you. Before we dive into their strange word origins, let’s revisit the definitions and uses of these words. 
Check out the video below or read here for texting acronyms in 6 different languages. 


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Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO):

The fear of missing out on enjoyable activity. It’s that feeling you get when all of your friends are out doing things without you. 


  • I saw everyone at John’s house on their Instagram stories, and now I have FOMO.
  • Sally can’t decide between two career paths because of her FOMO. She’s worried she will miss out on good opportunities that may arise for either path.

Joy Of Missing Out (JOMO): 

The polar opposite of FOMO, it is feeling joy even when you know people may or may not be having fun without you. This is something we definitely aspire to have. 


  • Despite all of her friends going to a bar without her, Jane had JOMO, as she stayed home and watched a movie. 
  • After obsessively using social media for years, Joe deleted it and finally felt at peace and had JOMO

You Only Live Once (YOLO):

A motto to convey the idea that you should take risks and live life to the fullest because you only have one life to live. It’s that voice in your head telling you to send that text or jump off that cliff, whichever floats your boat. 


  • I gave a stranger my phone number yesterday, because YOLO! 
  • Matt spontaneously took the job yesterday, he just said YOLO and went for it.

The Word Origins

While these acronyms only recently snowballed into widespread usage in the age of social media, some of these phrases and their original meaning date back a bit further. 


Ironically enough, the meaning of FOMO was coined before social media really took off. Writer and now venture capitalist Patrick McGinnis was the first one to use the term, in an article for the Harvard Business School magazine. While this phrase is closely associated with social media, this feeling has arguably been around for much longer. This fear plays into the innate human desire to belong and feel included and social media, as we know, is overly accessible and therefore amplifies this feeling. 


This is a sentiment that probably wouldn’t have been discussed if not for the growing popularity of FOMO on social media. JOMO was coined by blogger and tech CEO Anil Dash in 2012 as a result of the growing usage of FOMO. However, the feeling of relief and happiness when one cancels plans to stay home is a fairly timeless concept. As the meaning of FOMO became more normalized, so did people’s opposition to it, and thus, came the birth of JOMO. 


Did Drake’s song really start one of the biggest fads in slang? Possibly. Some sources claim it was derived from the Latin phrase Carpe diem or “Seize the day”. There’s no one person that coined the acronym, but that didn’t stop it from taking over the world in 2012. The phrase was taken in by a variety of different groups around the world, most notably fraternities to encourage party behavior. 

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