Have you ever been texting someone when they use the abbreviation IRL? From context, it might be difficult to figure out what it means. But, it is a common phrase to use when comparing ideas and reality!
What does IRL mean?
When you talk about something you knew happened, but is not common in your life, you might use this phrase. It draws attention to the difference between something imagined and the real situation.
The most common context might be:
I had no idea that this happened IRL!
This means that you might think something happens because of movies or TV shows. For example, movies shows spies like James Bond or Jason Bourne on exciting missions dealing with espionage all the time.
However, it is hard to imagine that real spies do that. If they did, would people around them not film car chase and fight scenes for the internet all the time?
If you see one day that there is a car chase in your neighborhood, you might think differently. You would probably be surprised and even shocked to see it in your actual life, where you least expect it.
In this vein, most of the time you use IRL will be when comparing the reality of another world (the movie or TV show’s world, for example) with yours. IRL describes the things that happen to and around you!
I know this movie is based on a true story, but how much of the plot really happened IRL?
What do you think would happen if someone tried to jump from the top of one cable car to another IRL? In the TV show, the man landed perfectly.
Even if you are not talking about something specific, something IRL refers to anything that could happen in reality. For example, have you jumped off a cliff? If you have not, you could still speculate what it would be like by using this abbreviation.
As long as you draw a contrast between imagination and reality, you can use IRL.