Grammar 7 min read

AFK Meaning Plus When and How to Use it

Main AFK Meaning Takeaways:

  • AFK means “away from keyboard.”
  • This acronym is popular for texting and gaming.
  • AFK lets other people know you won’t be available until further notice.
  • Some people also say AFKN, which means “away from keyboard now.”
  • More than likely, IFK is actually a typo when the user intended to write AFK.
  • The term IFK looks similar but is very different from AFK. IFK can mean either “indirect free kick” or “insect flying killer.”
  • AFK is best for informal settings and may not be appropriate for more formal contexts like work or school.

Whether you just encountered this acronym in a text for the first time or just joining the gaming world, SMS shorthand can be confusing. We’ll tackle text speak, explain what AFK means, and give you some examples. LMK if you have any questions!

Away from keyboard. Images shows a plain keyboard.
You can use AFK to let your friends know that you won’t be seeing their messages for a while. This abbreviation isn’t appropriate for formal settings like when messaging your immediate superior at work.

AFK Meaning

AFK means “away from keyboard.” Use the abbreviation or full phrase to let others know when you will not be at your computer, or able to respond for a given period of time. Originally used by online gamers, AFK indicates the user is inactive. AFK often appears with BRB (“be right back“).

I think Dan stepped away for a second. His last message was: afk, brb.

Hey, sorry to run but I have to cook dinner, so I’m goingAFK for about an hour.
Tanya can’t answer right now. She’sAFK.
Slow your roll — I need to goAFKso, the game will have to wait.
I told Juan I was goingAFK,but I still came back to 100 messages asking where I was.

What Does AFK Stand For?

AFK stands for “away from keyboard.” This phrase comes from online gaming culture to let other players know when you are not available or momentarily inactive. When you need to step away from your computer for a certain period of time, use AFK to let others know that you’re taking a small break. What’s more, you usually see AFK and BRB, or “be right back” used together.

Melanie was too lazy to type out a full answer, so she just wrote “AFK” and closed her phone.

Is AFK a Bad Word?

No, AFK is not a bad word. However, since this acronym is slang, it may not be appropriate in a more formal setting. 

With that said, it’s common practice to use AFK in workplaces that tend to have a less formal atmosphere. This is especially true when considering that the phrase “Away From Keyboard” is purely informational. 

What Does AFK Mean in Text?

AFKmeans the same thing in text that it does in online or gaming situations: “Away from keyboard”. This phrase lets others know that you’re stepping away without signing off. In other words, use AFK when you are taking a short break and want to let others know that you aren’t able to respond immediately. Because your conversation mate can’t see you, they might not know what happened if you simply stop responding to questions.

AFK is a polite way to excuse yourself and let everyone know you intend to come back. AFK doesn’t need to be spelled out nor do you need to wait for a reply.

A chat conversation between two friends. Don asked Alexander if his ready to start the game. However, Alexander replied that he'll be AFK for a while and that they should play later.
When playing with your friends online, let them known that you’re stepping away without signing off by messaging them AFK.

How Do You Use AFK in a Sentence?

Here are examples of how to use AFK in a sentence:

It’s almost dinner time, so I’ll beAFKfor an hour or so.
Jill’sAFK, but I can answer that question for you.
I’m sorry I missed your message. I wasAFK.
Dude, you can’t goAFKright when we’re about to take down the enemy!
Go ahead and e-mail me your request, but I’m goingAFKand won’t see it until later.
I’m in school, and class is about to start.AFKfor now.
I’mAFK,and IDK when I’ll be back, but IMU and HTHFYS. ROFL abt your last text. LOL!

How to Use AFK Like a Pro:

  • When you’re in a hurry but don’t want to leave anyone hanging, type three little letters and you’re off the hook.
  • You can use AFK to let friends know you won’t be seeing their messages for a while.
  • AFK is more appropriate for informal situations and may not be appropriate for work or school.
  • You can capitalize all three letters or leave them lowercase.

There are countless ways to use AFK in a sentence. Like other text-based abbreviations, such as BRB and OMG, AFK is quick and to the point.

Using AFK in formal settings isn’t always appropriate, but in some cases it might be. Then, you can type AFK in a video conference, so colleagues are aware you won’t be participating in the conversation.

As you can see, you might use AFK on Facebook or in an IRC chat room if you’re going to log off.

You might comment AFK in a gaming chat room to let your team know you’re going to miss the next mission.

The only place you might not use terms like AFK and the AFK meaning are in the real world. After all, it would be kind of weird if you walked up to your friend and said, “Hi, I’m AFK!,” right?

Image shows a man walking away from his computer table to join his colleagues for some snacks.
AFK is a chat/text jargon, which means away from keyboard. It is commonly used by online players to tell other gamers that they’ll be away for a while and won’t be able to respond to messages.

AFK Meaning Gone Wrong: AFK Typos

Sometime, we pride ourselves on typing quickly. But, we must admit that we tend to make more mistakes than we’d like every time we type fast. Especially when something comes up and we have to step away from the computer in a hurry.

For this reason, you might have received an IFK when an AFK would have made more sense. Most likely, IFK is a typo when the user actually meant to say AFK.

There are other “oops” abbreviations people might accidentally use instead of AFK too. That list includes AFL, AFJN, and AFJ. Usually, these errors are just a slip of the finger.

AFK Typos:

  • IFK
  • AFL
  • AFJN
  • AFJ

Be patient with people, and if you’re the one making the error, no big deal. The important part is that we avoid misunderstandings and are able to communicate our intentions.

What Does IFK Mean in a Text?

IFK and AFK have two out of three letters that are exactly the same. Even so, these acronyms have completely different meanings. While AFK means “away from keyboard,” IFK is an acronym that stands for either “indirect free kick” or “insect flying killer.” An indirect free kick is a phrase used in soccer. It describes a goal attempt in which the ball must first be touched by a second player. Insect flying killer is hilarious but doesn’t seem to have any real meaning.

Short message service, more commonly known as texting, was invented in the 1980s. Despite that lengthy history, text messaging didn’t pick up speed until several decades later. Now, people of all ages use text-friendly abbreviations to communicate quickly. AFK is one of those abbreviations.

Forget wondering, “What is AFK? Now you have all the details on the AFK meaning. Now you’re free to ditch the keyboard and enjoy Taco Tuesday or shake off that controller cramp in peace!

Wait! Try This Quiz First Before you go AFK!

AFK Question #1

Which statement is true?
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is D. Online gamers originally used “AFK” — Away from Keyboard — to indicate that they're inactive.

AFK Question #2

It's essential to wait for a reply after sending “AFK.”
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is FALSE. You don't need to wait for a reply after using “AFK.”

AFK Meaning Question #3

You Can Use AFK In Any Of These Situations Except
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is C. The only place you might not use terms like “AFK” is in the real world.

AFK Meaning Question #4

You can use “AFK” and “IFK” interchangeably in a text.
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is FALSE. “IFK” is an acronym that stands for either "indirect free kick" or "insect flying killer".

AFK Question #5

Which of the following abbreviations might be accidentally used instead of “AFK”?
Correct! Wrong!

The answer is D. These abbreviations are most likely typos when the user meant to say “AFK.”

AFK Meaning Quiz Results


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Pam Weber

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, Writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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