It’s impossible not to like imho.
If you’ve spent any time online, you’ve seen the word at least a dozen times. It usually sets off an opinion from the text around it: Those jeans don’t look very good, imho.
But it’s a pliable little devil. Depending on its context, imho can function as a gentle nudge or a punch in the gut. It can ease you into the persuasive mode: This is all smart but imho you need to talk to him again. It can spring-load sarcasm: imho this column is Absolutely Correct. It can set off a punch line: Nuclear war sounds pretty bad imho. Much like lol or omg, it can convey a huge range of possible meanings. It can even be a little phatic.
Yet on Wednesday imho suffered an apparent crisis. Employees at BuzzFeed reportedly could not agree on what the letters in imho represented. Some staffers claimed they meant “in my humble opinion.” Others said that imho stood for “in my honest opinion.” They turned it into content and posted a poll (which is silly, because democracy alone cannot determine correct usage). The debate soon metastasized across the English-speaking internet.
At press time, their poll showed “honest” in the lead with about 11,000 more votes. Here at The Atlantic, my esteemed colleague Alexis Madrigal has already weighed in on the debate: According to dozens of guidebooks dating back to the early days of the internet, imho stands for “in my humble opinion.” What’s more, there are many books that list humble alone, and many that list humble and honest. But there are none that list only honest.