What Does “NGL” Mean, and How Do You Use It?

Anyone who spends time on the Internet should know that acronyms, shorthand and slang are widely used. Knowing that and understanding every phrase are two very different matters, however. Especially because language and how people use it change rapidly, it’s hard to keep track of what people mean when they use acronyms in a conversation.

The expression NGL is a great example.

What does NGL mean?

In an acronym, the first letter of each word is used to represent the whole word.

In this case, N stands for “not,” G stands for “gonna” or “going to” and L stands for “lie.” Put together, that means NGL is the same as saying, “not going to lie.” More formally, this might be written as, “I’m not going to lie.”

Unlike most Internet acronyms, NGL is almost always used before a full sentence. That’s because the phrase “not gonna lie” serves to emphasize the truth of what follows by pointing out that it isn’t a lie, and that the person saying it is completely sincere. NGL also tends to imply that the user is surprised by what they are saying, or that they’re admitting something unusual. However, this doesn’t always hold, and NGL is often just used to emphasize something.

The origin of NGL

Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact record of when this phrase or its acronym were first used in its current sense. However, the phrase “not gonna lie” seems to have first appeared in print in the 1980s, when the meaning of it was much the same as today.

Of course, it’s possible to find older examples of the three words in the same order. All these, however, tend to simply be somebody declaring that they will not lie about something unstated in a standalone sentence, rather than in the same way NGL is used.

It’s hard to say when the phrase made the jump to common Internet slang, as well. It doesn’t appear on older lists of “net speak” from the 1990s, suggesting it’s a somewhat recent addition to the ever-growing lists of acronyms that make communication online simultaneously so fun and so confusing.

How to use NGL in a sentence

To use NGL, simply place it at the beginning or end of a sentence expressing something that might otherwise be hard to believe. Because the acronym serves the same grammatical role as a word like “actually,” you should technically separate NGL from the rest of the sentence with a comma. However, since many people do not use punctuation on the Internet at all, this is optional.

For example, if you wanted to recommend a movie that you found moving, you might say, “NGL, her acting was so good I cried.”

The acronym is also commonly followed by the word “bro” or “man,” especially when used by male speakers. You might say, “NGL bro, I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole,” in response to someone raising an uncomfortable or awkward topic.

In short, even if you don’t add it to your everyday vocabulary, the acronym NGL is a great way to express a kind of emotional vulnerability when sharing unusual beliefs or experiences.