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

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How Bout You Graphic
Vann Vicente

If you’ve ever made small talk with someone on the internet, you’ve likely come across the initialism “HBU.” We’ll explain what this internet slang term means, and how you use it in conversation.

How About You?

HBU stands for “how about you?” or “how ’bout you?” People often use this phrase as a follow-up when asked how they’re doing. After all, it’s common in a conversation to share some information about yourself, and then ask about the other person, as well.


For example, if someone asks how you’re doing, you might reply: “I’m ok, hbu?”

This initialism is most commonly used in text messaging. It’s expressed in both lower- and uppercase letters, although you’ll see it more frequently in all lowercase (hbu).

It can also be used when chatting with a large group of people. However, a plural noun is normally added when addressing more than one person, like “hbu guys” or “hbu everyone.”


The Origin of HBU

Like other acronyms, HBU became popular in early online chatrooms and on message boards. These early chat platforms were mostly anonymous, so you’d frequently be talking to strangers.

However, the initialism gained more widespread popularity when texting and instant messaging became a primary form of communication. As people started spending more time chatting online with people they knew personally, it became more common to ask how someone was doing or via text.

Now, HBU is used mostly in personal text conversations.

Internet Small Talk

A man texting on his smartphone in bed at night.
Sam Wordley/Shutterstock

Even in text chats, small talk is still quite prevalent. HBU is one of a group of terms and initialisms that are often used to keep a conversation going.

A typical conversation involving HBU might go like this:

  • Person A: “Hey, how are you feeling?”
  • Person B: “Pretty good. Just a little under the weather. HBU?”
  • Person A: “I’m good. Just need to get more sleep tonight.”

In the conversation above, HBU is used to throw a question back at Person A. While the acronym isn’t responsible for starting the conversation, it initiates a back-and-forth chat.

Some other internet acronyms used in small talk include:

  • WYD: “What are you doing?”
  • HRU: “How are you?”

Most are used early in a conversation.

RELATED: How to Get Past the Small Talk When You Really Hate It

HBU for Discovery

HBU can also be used to learn more about another person you just met. For example, in an online dating app, someone might ask if you enjoy a particular activity. After you state your opinion, you might then use “HBU” to ask how the other person feels about it.

You can also use it when asking a group of people to share their opinions on something. For example, if you and a friend are sharing your thoughts on a recent meal, you might say, “I think it was pretty well-seasoned. HBU?”

HBU can also be used to ask specific people in a group to share their thoughts on a topic. For example, if you’re in a group meeting, you could say “HBU” followed by someone’s name to get that person’s feedback or perspective on a matter.

HBU vs. WBU

A confusing aspect about HBU is its similarity with another internet acronym, “WBU,” which stands for “what about you?”

While the two have subtle differences, they can, generally, be used interchangeably. A good differentiator between the two is the initial question that starts the exchange. If a question begins with “how,” you can use HBU, and if it begins with “what,” use WBU.

How to Use HBU

You use HBU in the same way you do the phrase “how about you?” in conversations. The initialism is best used in chats and informal texting, while the full phrase can be used in any setting, including work.

Here are a few examples of sentences that use HBU:

  • “I’m done eating. Hbu?”
  • “I’m almost done with my part of the project. HBU guys?”
  • “I really enjoy hiking and camping, hbu?”
  • “I don’t really feel sick anymore. Hbu?”

If you want to become fully adept with your internet initialisms, be sure to check our pieces on SMH and FTFY.



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