If you’re new to Twitter, some of the terms and lingo can be downright confusing to understand. So here’s a list to help get you started.

Tweet – a tweet is a public message you’ve posted that your followers see.  You have a whoppin 140 characters to do this.

# or Hashtag– used to designate a topic, category or interest.  For instance, let’s say you’re a frustrated Minnesota Vikes fan who’s interested in tracking the convos. You can see all of the related tweets about #Vikes by typing this in the search bar. The # or hashtag allows you to follow that stream and easily find others who share the same interest.

Most people are surprised to find this helpful in mining useful information.

@ – the @ symbol followed by the Twitter handle or username “tags” that user.  Also becomes a link to their profile. They’ll know you’ve mentioned them as your tweet appears in their mentions.

Avatar – is the image or photo you uploaded to your profile.

Blocking – if you block someone they are unable to add you to their lists or follow you.

DM or Direct Message – is a private tweet sent directly to a user, seen only by you and the other person. Direct messaging only works when the user follows you back.

Fail Whale – is when Twitter is overloaded and overcapacity, which means it’s down and you’re unable to tweet or read tweets.  When that happens, this graphic, the Fail Whale, pops up.

Favorites – a great feature to save your favorite tweets. I also use this as a handy bookmarking tab and favorite (save) the tweets I may want to retweet or read later.

Followers – are the people who subscribe to you and see your tweets. You do not have to follow someone for them to follow you.

Following – is subscribing to a Twitter user to get all of their tweets.

GFF (Get Followers Fast) – these are spammers who spam from your account. Stay clear of them.

Handle – a Twitter handle is the username. For instance, mine is AngCo_VA.

Mention – is a tweet that has your Twitter handle included.

OH – in Twitterland, this means overheard.

Protected/Private Accounts – is when you’ve approved your followers through an authentication process and only they can see your Tweets.  Your tweets will not show up in the search results by unapproved followers.

Reply – is when you respond to a tweet by hitting the reply button.  It always starts with @twitterhandle.

Retweet or RT – is a tweet repeated.  Used to share information, news, etc. to all of your followers.  Being retweeted is a compliment.   And people are more willing to engage in a conversation when you do this

Spam – unwanted and annoying messages and links.

Tending Topics – are the most mentioned topics on Twitter at the current time. Events are chatted about in real time with anyone and everyone using the # sign. For instance, #CyberMonday became a TT or trending topic.  Twitterers followed and commented on that in real time.

Tweet – a tweet is a public message posted that all of your followers see.  140 characters is the max.

Twitter Lists – use lists to keep track of the people and businesses you want to stay in touch with. Organize lists by industry, topic, demographics, fav restaurants, etc. For example, I have a “Virtual Assistants” list and a “Nordeast Minneapolis” list.

Unfollow – is when you unfollow another user.  You’ll no longer see their tweets in your stream.

URL Shortener – used to shorten long links into much shorter ones. Especially helpful when your URL is 25 characters long.  Bit.ly is one example of a URL link shortener.  It’s pretty easy too; copy the link and click “shorten” and wha-la.

It gets easier the more you tweet. Really.