The Meaning of S/O: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of the internet slang term S/O? This guide will give you all of the information you need on the abbreviation S/O, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the term S/O mean?

According to both Cyber Definitions and Urban Dictionary, the most common definitions of the internet slang term S/O are “significant other” and “shout out.” According to Merriam-Webster, the term significant other is used to refer to either a person who is important to someone’s well-being, or that person’s spouse, partner, boyfriend or girlfriend. This term is gender-neutral, which means that it can be used with any combination of genders or lack thereof. For example, a man could use the term significant other to refer to his wife in the same way that a nonbinary person could use the term significant other to refer to their female partner. This term can be used with any combination of genders and is fairly general. The abbreviation S/O is often seen on social media or via text-based conversations, like instant messenger or SMS text messaging.

S/O can also be used to stand for “shout out.” According to Merriam-Webster, a shout-out or shoutout is some public expression of greeting, praise, or acknowledgement. The term shoutout can be used in a variety of different circumstances, both in person and via text or on social media. For example, someone might give someone else an “S/O” in the caption of their Instagram post for being the one to take the photo. Alternately, someone up on stage could give the tech crew a shoutout for a job well done. This is a very versatile word, however, the abbreviation S/O will likely only be seen in text-based conversations, like on social media, via text, or in an email.

The abbreviation “S/O” can also stand for a variety of other terms, according to The Free Dictionary. While these meanings are accurate, they are far less common than the terms shoutout and significant other. If one plans on using one of these other definitions, they should ensure that the context is clear – you wouldn’t want someone thinking you mean “significant other” when you actually mean “security officer!”

  • Security Officer
  • Starting Offer
  • Surfactant to Oil
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Sex Offender
  • Shutoff
  • Service Order (various companies)
  • Sold Out
  • Switchover
  • Spin Off
  • Son Of
  • Ship Owner
  • Shipping Order

How can the term S/O be used in a sentence?

Since the term S/O can either be used to mean shout out or significant other, this means that S/O can be used in two different ways. There are two different examples below with ways in which one can use S/O. In this first example, the term S/O is used to mean shoutout. Dave is sending an email to his company after they have transitioned to being fully remote.

Hi Team, 

First off, I just wanted to say thank you all for your flexibility and patience during this unprecedented time. This transition has not been easy, but I am grateful to you all for being so willing to learn. I miss you all dearly. I want to give a special S/O to our IT department for aiding in this transition; we couldn’t have done it without you. Please feel free to reach out to me with any concerns. 



In this next example, the term S/O will stand for significant other. Here, Dave is communicating via instant messenger with one of his coworkers, Eva.

Eva: Hey Dave! The husband and I are going to go on a fancy brunch date this weekend and our friends who were supposed to go got the flu and can’t come. We have a reservation for four – do you and your S/O want to come? Sunday at 10!

Dave: Absolutely! Thanks so much for inviting me.

Is the term S/O casual or formal?

The term S/O is considered internet slang and is therefore only appropriate for use in casual contexts. Acronyms and other abbreviated expressions should only be used when one is friendly and comfortable with someone else. These abbreviations are not appropriate for use in professional or formal settings, such as letters, business emails, or negotiations. Using slang terms or chat speak in one of these more formal situations could make one come off as unprofessional and could be detrimental to their reputation in their job or profession. One should use the full form of the acronym to make their statements more professional or formal.

What are synonyms for the term S/O?

Since the term S/O can be used to stand for either significant other or shout out, this means that the term has two different sets of synonyms. Synonyms are words or phrases that mean the same thing to a given word or phrase. If one wanted to use an equivalent word in place of the term significant other, they could use any of the below, provided by Thesaurus.

  • Partner
  • Spouse
  • Boyfriend
  • Girlfriend
  • Domestic partner
  • Better half
  • Husband
  • Wife
  • Lover
  • Mate
  • Live-in lover
  • Companion
  • Beloved
  • Beau
  • BF
  • GF
  • Fiancé/fiancée
  • Wooer
  • Valentine
  • True love
  • Flame
  • Paramour
  • Suitor

The term shout is often used as an expression of gratitude. There are many different ways one can express gratitude in the English language, listed below from Thesaurus.

Overall, the trending English slang term S/O most commonly means either significant other or shout out. These acronyms should only be used in casual context such as on a social media web page or via SMS text messaging. A significant other is someone’s romantic partner, and a shout out is some expression of praise or acknowledgement in a public forum.