Been binge reading on The Workplace questions and some people comment the word IANAL and then append their comment. What does that mean?

  • 11
    Far be it from me to discourage people from participating on meta, but wouldn't it have been easier and faster to google the term?
    – Lilienthal Mod
    May 10 '16 at 19:17
  • 1
    I thought IANAL is a StackExchange term, not an Internet-at-large term like BRB, LOL, and IMHO. May 11 '16 at 2:50
  • 12
    @lillienthal: There are times when I really regret our policy of not considering lmgtfy answers acceptable. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to teach them how to find their own answers.
    – keshlam
    May 11 '16 at 9:36
  • 9
    @Lilienthal Normally I'd agree with you, but if you're at work, I would advise you don't google anything that might end with the unfortunate 4 letters in this acronym.
    – corsiKa
    May 12 '16 at 15:23
  • 2
    @corsiKa: A simple query on Google for "define:IANAL" would've sufficed without returning objectionable material. May 13 '16 at 17:40
  • 2
    Hum... I've read the question waaaay too fast.
    – goto
    May 18 '16 at 8:12
  • 1
    Make sure not to put a space after the first letter.
    – user541686
    May 20 '16 at 4:31
  • 1
    @JennyTengsonMandani It goes back to at least Slashdot, probably newsgroups.
    – user38933
    May 20 '16 at 14:37

It's Internet slang for I am not a lawyer.

(Well, actually, it was Usenet and ARPANet slang before it was Internet slang.)

To those who know it's a succinct term, but many people do not know, so I encourage people not to rely on slang and acronyms like this. It's better to spell it out.

  • 8
    FWIW I disagree with your last sentence. IMHO these sorts of "succinct terms" are the jargon of our community. Jargon isn't only about communication. It also plays a valuable role in tying communities together.
    – Lumberjack
    May 10 '16 at 18:21
  • 2
    I worked out what IMHO is... but too lazy to google FWIW... I actually didn't know what IANAL meant either, we use internet slang here, but it's a different language so different abbreviations except we all know LOL and LMBO and a few others.
    – Kilisi Mod
    May 10 '16 at 20:58
  • 6
    For What It's Worth... Slang's quicker when folks grok the jive, but may be impenetrable to others, especially when it isn't in their native language. (Lots of examples can be found in the linguistic areas of SE.) Best practice is to try to avoid it when the idea is actually important, or at the very least to define it the first time it's used in a question/answer set. But that doesn't always happen... When in doubt, it is always legitimate to ask for clarification.
    – keshlam
    May 11 '16 at 3:26
  • @Lumberjack PEYA. IMNSHO it's nicer than making people STFW. May 11 '16 at 13:21
  • I am totally stumped!
    – Lumberjack
    May 11 '16 at 13:59
  • 1
    Lumberjack: @MonicaCellio clearly meant, "Pretty Elegant Yet Asinine. In my not so humble opinion it's nicer than making people Search The Friendly Web.
    – TOOGAM
    May 13 '16 at 19:10
  • 3
    @TOOGAM two out of three; PEYA is actually "Please Expand Your Acronyms". Lumberjack, I trust I've made my point about (not) using cryptic jargon. May 13 '16 at 19:34
  • 1
    MC: Your point was drowned out by the comment's unfairness. Websearching for PCEA doesn't pull up the answer. Only Result 5 out of 121 of Google search including right answer showed this. It was a Usenet post which sensibly gave the expansion right by the acronym. When using something so uncommon, hyperlinking to answer is polite and rather common (especially when unfamiliarity is shown). I quickly (re-)learned IANAL and FWIW by searching, but PEYA just doesn't work the same. @Lumberjack: Answers are here now
    – TOOGAM
    May 13 '16 at 20:21
  • @keshlam .. Now you are going to have to explain "grok" for those who have never read Robert Heinlein. 8^D
    – O.M.Y.
    May 14 '16 at 23:53
  • Post of the point being made is "know your audience". Anyone who has gotten this far has seen the search-the-web point.
    – keshlam
    May 15 '16 at 1:05
  • @Kilisi OK, I know IMHO FWIW IANAL LOL but not LMBO... LMAO OTOH. May 19 '16 at 16:14
  • @AaronMcMillin B = bum ... I don't use the 'donkey' word....
    – Kilisi Mod
    May 19 '16 at 18:53

It means:

I am about to dispense legal advice, although I should know better, and you should not rely on what I am about to say.


I am not a lawyer, but I play one on TV.


I am not a lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.


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