RAQ: What Does RT Mean in Twitter?

Here’s a question from Julia:

I’ve seen a lot of tweets that start with RT, like this one


I’m thinking it means “Return Tweet”???  But I’m not sure.  Is there a new lexicon of TLA’s evolving as a result of Twitter and do you know specifically what this one means? Maybe this should be a RAQ if you think relevant?


Answer: RT means “retweet” or “re-tweet” and it’s a way for one Twitter user to pass along information found on Twitter to his or her circle of followers.

For example, if Julia sees this recent tweet of mine:


She might want to pass it along to her followers, who may or may not be following me. She would use the following syntax:

RT @LeeAase http://snipurl.com/bovi2 – UW selling students’ personal information for $90 apiece

…and would add any additional comments that fit within the 140-character tweet limit.

By using the RT @LeeAase she is crediting me for finding and originally tweeting this, which alerts her followers that I was the source, and then they might decide to follow me directly.

When I originally responded to Julia via email, she replied:

Ah!  That makes sense.  There have been times I’ve wanted to pass something along, but didn’t want the person I learned it from to think I was stealing their thunder (so to speak).  I love that they’ve solved that issue…

That’s exactly the reason for the RT. The ethos of social media is

  1. to share and pass information along, but also
  2. to credit the original source.

Two little characters – RT – plus the username of your source, meets both goals in Twitter.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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