When you see the text “nm” probably one of two phrases come to mind: Never mind, or not much. For those who grew up in the 90s when the Internet was first getting started, “never mind” might be the assumed nm meaning. However, for younger generations, “not much” is the more common interpretation. Let’s take a look at the reasoning behind this, and how to correctly use “nm” these days.
What Does NM Mean?
The most common nm meaning these days is “not much.” In most cases, this is used as a response to the phrase “what’s up?” This is because it’s easier to type “nm” than it is to type out a word or phrase like “nothing,” or “I’ve got nothing going on right now.”
Taken in this context, “nm” can be used to indicate that one isn’t currently occupied with anything important, and is available. However, sometimes the acronym is used even if the person is busy and just wants to type a generic response. This can be confusing if the person contacting them was using “what’s up?” in a more literal sense, rather than as a greeting.
A good example of this would be a person texting their friend to see if they are available to come to hang out. If they start with “what’s up?” and their friend responds with “nm,” then they may interpret that as meaning that they’re not busy, and are available, even though this may not be the case.
When Did NM Start Being Used?
Even though using “nm” to abbreviate “not much” has risen in popularity with the advent of texting by phone, it was actually in use much earlier than this, going all the way back to the start of the Internet in the 90s. In the chat rooms and forums of the day, “nm” was typically used to mean “never mind,” but instances of it being used for “not much” aren’t hard to imagine either.
It is of course possible that the acronym “nm” has been used earlier than this to indicate “not much,” or “never mind,” but there is no solid evidence of this. If this was the case, it would likely have been used in communications between coders and programmers before the Internet was made commercially available.
Other Meanings of NM
In the past before texting by phone became popular, “nm” was actually used to represent “never mind” more than “not much.” This was especially common on chatrooms and forums in the 90s. As you can probably guess, this is because the greeting “what’s up?” was less common then, and even if someone did use it, the person responding could type a detailed answer since they’d be using an actual keyboard, not a small keypad on a phone or tablet device.
Things began to change as smartphones started becoming more popular. The widely used greeting “what’s up?” soon began to be answered with “not much,” and that soon got shortened to “nm.” This being the case, the abbreviation for “never mind” soon became “nvm” in order to prevent confusion. Even so, there are still people who may use them interchangeably, though this can cause confusion, and make communicating by text more difficult than it has to be.
When to Use NM
In most cases, using “nm” is done when you want to respond to “what’s up” as if it is a literal question. This lets the other person know that you aren’t busy at the moment. On the other hand, if you know that “what’s up” isn’t being used literally, “nm” still works as a quick and easy response.
As for specific instances in which to use “nm,” it’s pretty much universally accepted. You can use it when texting via phone, in a chatroom, at work when communicating with your fellow employees, or on social media if appropriate.
That said, “nm” is a very narrowly defined acronym meaning that it can only really be used to respond to specific phrases like “what’s up.” However, there are some exceptions to this rule that work so long as the persons you’re texting actually understand what you’re trying to say.
Examples of How to Use NM, and How Not To
Let’s take a look at a few examples that will give you a good idea of how to use “nm” to represent “not much” so that you’ll be more comfortable using it. This will also help you to avoid confusion when using the acronym as well. Here are the examples:
1 – Indicate Availability When Texting
Barry: What’s up?
Barry: Want to go to the movies?
2 – Generic Response in a Chatroom
Rvisno: what up yall
M1k3: not much
3 – How Not to Use NM
Jerome809: Hey Mark u got plans 2 night?
Jerome809: cool want 2 get drinks?
MadMark: im busy
Jerome809: wut? u jus said nm
Will NM Ever Go Out of Style?
While it’s impossible to predict the future, figuring out the future of certain acronyms such as “nm” isn’t a complete shot in the dark. In this case, the acronym is so narrowly defined and used that its use will likely continue as long as the greeting “what’s up?” continues to be used. However, just like how advances in technology changed the meaning of “nm” from representing “never mind” to “not much,” there could come changes that rewrite the common meaning of “nm” once again.