What Does DM Mean? The Abbreviation Explained

, Staff Writer
Updated October 5, 2021
Man Using Smartphone DM Abbreviation Explained
    Man Using Smartphone DM Abbreviation Explained
    Images By Tang Ming Tung / DigitalVision / Getty Images
    Used under Getty Images license

When you send someone a message on social media or a public platform, you’re likely to encounter the abbreviation DM. This is short for "Direct Message," which is any message you send online to another user either privately or in a group. Explore the origin and different uses of the abbreviation DM.

DM as an Abbreviation

DM is an initialism, meaning each letter is sounded out when you say it out loud. DMs allow online users to send a private message directly to an individual or group and can be used in both informal and formal conversations depending on the context. They are often used for personal reasons such as chatting with friends, meeting new people or interacting with a public figure. However, they can also be helpful for making professional contacts and networking.


History of DM

The term DM originated on Twitter and is used on multiple platforms including Instagram, Discord, Slack, LinkedIn, and more. The term is derived from PM, meaning "Private/Personal Message," which began on Facebook. While Facebook popularized the concept of private messaging and by extension the abbreviation PM, Twitter made the phrase direct message or DM more widespread. The terms are often used interchangeably to describe any kind of messaging between two or more people on a social network. According to Google Trends, the term DM has been in steady use throughout the 2010s, peaking in 2020.

Other Meanings of DM

While it is typically used to refer to direct messaging, DM can stand for a number of things. Some other common uses include:

  • Doesn’t Matter

  • Don’t Mind

  • D Minor (musical key)

  • Direct Mail

  • Digital Marketing

  • Digital Media

  • Dungeon Master (Dungeons and Dragons)

  • Deutsche Mark (former German currency)

  • Daily Mail (British tabloid)

  • Dominica

  • Diabetes Mellitus


Examples and Usage of DM

The abbreviation DM is most commonly used in casual conversation to refer to direct messages.

  • Can you DM me that link?

  • We met when he slid into my DMs.

  • I’d like to chat more. Can I DM you?

DM can also be used in more formal situations, particularly when making business contacts either online or in person.

  • It’s been a pleasure talking to you. May I add you on LinkedIn and send you a DM?

  • I think you would be a great fit for this position. I’ll DM you with more information later.

  • I really enjoyed meeting you today. I would like to continue our conversation via DMs and add your contact information.

There are several similar texting abbreviations that you can use to refer to messaging. The terms DM, PM and IM are often used interchangeably, while terms like SMS refer specifically to text messaging rather than messaging on social media.

  • SMS - Short Message Service

  • MMS - Multimedia Messaging Service

  • MSG - Message

  • SMIM - Send Me an Instant Message

  • IM - Instant Messaging