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The SLexicon: a Glossary of Second Life Terms

The SLexicon

Terms and abbreviations that are relatively common to Second Life.

AFK: Away From Keyboard.

Alt: An additional account in Second Life. The reason why thirteen million Residents (at last count) doesn't necessarily add up to thirteen million people.

Animation: The movements your avatar makes, basically. The 'default' animations are the movements your avatar makes as a matter of course. An animation is a sort of programmed sequence that can be activated to make your avatar move or pose in a specific way. They can be 'played' by double-clicking on them in your Inventory, or they can be placed in Gestures or scripted objects and activated that way.

AO: Animation Override. The default animations for things like walking are a bit clumsy, so various devices that attach to the avatar (sometimes as a bodily attachment, other times as a HUD) and play more graceful animations are quite common. You can get many for free and more elaborate ones can be purchased.

Attachment: An object that is 'worn' on the avatar, generally by right-clicking it on your Inventory and selecting "Wear". There are a number of different 'attachment points' on the body of the avatar, but only one attachment can go on a given point at a given time. Sometimes this is fine, if you want to change your hair or boots or something you can just add the new attachment and the old one will automatically detach to make room for it; other times, you'll find you need to choose between the groovy chain piercing and the groovy sunglasses, because they're both set to attach to the nose.

Avatar: The 'body' that you use to interact with others in Second Life.

Avie: Abbreviation for 'avatar'. Also spelled Avi, AV.

Away Mode: If your avatar is left inactive for long enough, it slumps forward as if dozing and the word "(Away)" appears next to the name. (The time elapsed is determined by how you set your preferences.) The moment you tap a key or move your mouse, the avatar will "wake up" again.

BIAB: Business In A Box. A box of full-perms merchandise that is resold to others. The notion is that you can set up a shop and sell the items to people. The reality is that the BIABs themselves wind up sold and resold for cheaper and cheaper prices until they're practically worthless. Additionally, the merchandise within is often so old and so crap that no sensible person would spend good Lindens on them, (particularly when they can buy the whole store for the price of a BIAB) to say nothing of the fact that selling items you didn't create without the creator's knowledge or consent is not regarded highly in the world of Second Life. BIABs are probably best purchased for one's personal use, as a way of obtaining a large number of full-perm items to experiment with and see how they're made.

Bling: Jewelry--or indeed, just about anything--that gives off flashing light particles at regular intervals. The charm of it seems to wear off the longer one has been around.

Bot: An avatar operated by a program instead of a person. Bots are controversial because most of the programs that run them are created to 'game' the system in some way, such as 'landbots' that scan for land offered for sale and rush in to buy it the instant a parcel is placed for sale at a price under a certain threshold. The current policy appears to be that bots are permitted as long as they don't do anything that would get a person-operated avatar kicked out if they did the same.

Camping: As mentioned in The Highly Opinionated FAQ, camping is a way to make a few Lindens by sitting in one place and boosting traffic statistics. The practice was banned by Linden Lab, but there may still be places that haven't been obliterated yet.

Chat: The main means of communication in SL. You can also give commands to scripted objects through the chat, often by using a different channel than the main one.

Channel: Objects can be scripted to 'listen' and respond to typed instructions. A channel enables one to type instructions at an object without everybody in the room hearing, and also can relieve the object from having to keep track of everything said in open chat. So if you have a lamp that's scripted to listen to channel 7, you could type "/7 on" or "/7 off" to turn it on and off, and not worry about it blinking on and off any time somebody says the words "on" or "off" in casual conversation.

Emote: A way to state something in chat in the form of a sentence, by preceding it with /me. For example, if I type "I am very confused." into the chat line, the chat that appears will read "CyFishy Traveler: I am very confused." If I type "/me is very confused." the chat that appears will be "CyFishy Traveler is very confused." without the little colon in between.

Flexi: Short for flexible. Certain types of prims can be given 'flexible path' settings that allow them to bend and react to movement. Flexi prims are popular for things like prim hair and prim skirts.

Gesture: A preset series of actions triggered by a chat command, generally starting with a slash. A gesture can be set to play a sound, type preset text into the chat line, play an animation, or all three. There are a series of preset gestures that come with SL, and you can create new ones and pass those gestures on to others to use.

Grid: A collection of servers that holds the information that comprises the world of Second Life.

Griefer: The SL equivalent of a "troll" on a message board--someone who makes a deliberate effort to abuse other avatars and disrupt things, sometimes to the point of causing sims to crash completely. You can report abusive behavior to Linden Lab and if the griefers are on your land you can also ban them.

Group: While group with a small G could describe any gathering of avatars, Group with a large G specifies a particular feature of Second Life. A Group can be formed for the price of L$100 and requires a minimum of two people in it. Groups have a number of features such as a IM channel for Group members, the ability for certain people to send out Notices for members to receive and even certain land permissions depending how the Group is set up. Each Resident can belong to a maximum of 25 Groups.

Hovertext: Text that, well, hovers over an object through the magic of the llSetText function in LSL. Hovertext becomes part of the prim's properties even if the script is subsequently removed so getting rid of or changing hovertext requires modifying or replacing the script.

HUD: Heads-Up Display. This is an object, usually scripted, that attaches to your screen rather than to your avatar. HUDs are often used to control other scripted objects, providing an additional "push-button" interface for it.

IM: Instant Message. This is the way one chats with someone without the rest of the grid overhearing. It can be used long distance, or even if the avatar is in the same room with yours, as long as the other Resident is logged in. You can also send IMs to people who aren't logged in at the time and they'll receive them upon their return (though if there are too many messages waiting, they run the risk of getting 'capped' and not being delivered.)

Inworld: The state of being logged into Second Life. ("I'll be inworld this evening.")

Island: This is land that is bought from Linden Lab and run directly by the landowner. These parcels are separated from the Mainland and the owner has more control over it than one would by buying a Mainland parcel. The owner can 'sell' the land to others, but it's more of a sublet arrangement than an actual purchase--no tier fees are paid directly to Linden Lab other than the monthly fee that the landowner pays. Most landowners have some kind of tier payment arrangement with those who 'buy' land on their Island (so they don't lose money and sometimes even turn a profit) and often have covenants that restrict what kind of things you can build on that land.

Lag: Information overload that slows things to a crawl in SL. The causes of lag are various, the results inevitably frustrating. The better your bandwidth and your system, the fewer problems you'll have with it, but there has yet to be a way to eliminate it completely.

Limo: This is an odd bit of slang for "teleport", so instead of saying "Send me a TP" you ask "Send me a limo." Often used when announcing events--"IM Somebody Avatar for a limo!"

LSL: Linden Scripting Language. The programming language used in scripts to make objects do things.

Mainland: Land owned by Linden Lab on the 'continents'. Land here can only be purchased by Residents with a Premium membership, but there are no covenants and few restrictions on what one can do with the land.

Mesh: A means of creating 3-D objects in Second Life that utilizes much more complicated graphics programs than sculpties. Not all viewers support mesh objects but the standard Second Life viewer does.

Neko: An otherwise human-shaped avatar wearing cat ears and a tail. (Whiskers are apparently optional.) Nekos sometimes also use feline-themed Gestures to do things like meow, purr and lick themselves. It can be seen as anything from a fashion statement to a lifestyle, depending on who you talk to. The term comes from the Japanese word for "cat."

Object: As atoms link together to form molecules, so prims link together to form objects. A single prim can also, by itself, be an object.

Particle: A temporarily generated texture, used for effects like snowflakes, candle flames, fireworks, flashing lights and the occasional alien invasion. Particles emit from prims that are scripted to generate them.

Partner: verb: To establish a relationship between two avatars via Second Life partnership. noun: An avatar so partnered. Avatars have the name of their partner visible and linked in their Profile. While ostensibly the equivalent of marriage in SL, what the partnership means is really up to the Residents in question--some business partners, for example, use partnering to designate their business relationship. The majority of the time, however, a partnership implies a romantic connection of some sort and a "wedding industry" has grown up around it. A partnership costs L$20 to establish (with the costs split evenly at L$10 for each avatar) and L$25 to dissolve (with the costs of dissolution being borne entirely by the Resident who requests it.)

Perms: Short for "permissions"--each object, texture and article of clothing that one creates can have different permissions set for subsequent owners. Modify (usually abbreviated as Mod) means that one can modify the item (changing the sleeve length on a shirt, for example). Copy means, obviously, that you can make unlimited copies of it. Transfer (usually abbreviated as Trans) means that you can give the item to someone else. Note that if an item is set to Transfer, it also means that it can be set for sale by the new owner. An item that has all three options checked is known as "full perms". An item can be set as either non-copy or non-trans, but not both.

Pie Menu: The circular menu that pops up where you right-click (or Command-click, if you're a Mac person) on a person, place or thing in certain viewers (it's a holdover from the original Linden Lab viewer.) What options appear on the menu depends on what you end up right-clicking on. If you didn't mean to right-click on what you did, clicking in the center will close the menu without incident.

Poseball: A prim scripted to trigger an animation when sat upon. There's no particular reason it has to be a ball, other than it's what people are used to--it can be other shapes as well. Poseballs on furniture place the avatar in a certain position, for example, and similar balls can be found on dance floors in matched pairs, to allow two avatars to dance together by each sitting on one of the balls. (They're traditionally tinted pink for the lady and blue for the gentleman in ballroom dance type animations.) To use one, right-click on the poseball and select "sit" (sometimes the script will replace with word with "dance" or whatever else the animation will have you do.) When you want to stop posing, click the "Stand" button towards the bottom of your screen.

Posing stand: A scripted prim, usually in the form of a platform, that will hold the avatar in the arms-out "Editing Appearance" position when you right-click and select "Stand." This comes in handy for making adjustments on prim attachments, since the avatar will tend to move around a bit otherwise. Much like the poseball, clicking the "Stand" button at the bottom of the screen will cause the avatar to hop off.

Premium: A paid membership in Second Life, which includes benefits like exclusive content and the ability to buy land on the mainland.

Prim: The basic "building block" of physical objects (as opposed to avatars) in SL.

Prim Hair: Hair made from prims that is worn as an attachment as opposed to 'avatar hair' that is shaped by the Appearance settings. Prim hair is generally built with lots of prims, many on flexible settings.

Prim Limit: Since each prim takes a certain amount of computer memory to render, the folks at Linden Lab place a limit on the number of prims that can be placed in a given amount of land. A standard issue 512 square meter plot of land, for example, holds 117 prims. Owners of Islands are given a certain number of prims for the entire sim, and will sometimes distribute them in such a way so a larger or smaller amount of prims can be placed within a given plot of land than a similar mainland plot. Note that this limit only applies to things that are physically on the land and not things that are attached to avatars on the land.

Prim Skirt: Much like prim hair, a skirt made from prims (usually flexi) that is worn as an attachment as opposed to the skirt created in Appearance settings.

Resident: A unique, named account in Second Life. Note that a given flesh-and-blood individual can own and operate more than one Resident. (See also alt.) Sometimes abbreviated as resi. The word avatar is sometimes used to refer to a Resident, but two words are not precisely interchangeable, as a given Resident can change from one body to another and the word avatar more precisely describes that body.

Rez: 1. To create a new object in SL. ("Rez a cylinder.") 2. To drag an object out of your inventory into the world, generally by placing it on the ground. ("Rez the chair you just bought.") 3. To first appear on the screen. Since Second Life is constantly changing, each time you enter a new location, it takes time to download, much like a webpage. Waiting for objects, avatars, etc. to appear on your screen is known as "rezzing." The term purportedly comes from the movie Tron.

RL: Abbreviation for "Real Life"--the life that belongs to the person at the keyboard as opposed to the avatar on the screen. (Some people use the abbreviation FL for "First Life", but this is less common because it also happens to be the United States Postal Service abbreviation for the state of Florida.)

RP: Abbreviation for Roleplay. Role playing games, are, of course, nothing new to the Internet, and Second Life provides a platform for all kinds of roleplay scenarios to unfold. The settings and rules will vary by each group, though one rule that should apply to any civilized avie is "please don't interfere if you're not playing."

Sandbox: A plot of land that allows and encourages anybody to build stuff on it (as long as you take what you've built with you when you're done.)

Script: A sequence of code written in LSL. Scripts are placed inside prims in order to make them do stuff.

Scripting: The act of coding a script. The syntax is reportedly similar to C, for you geek types.

Sculpted Prim: Also known as a sculptie, a sculpted prim is a prim that has its shape defined by a specialized texture (a "sculpt texture") that maps the spatial coordinates of the prim's surface using the Red, Blue and Green values of the image. These textures can be created through plug-ins for various 3D programs, and through programs specifically designed to create sculpt textures. Since the textures that define the shape have to download just like any other texture does when it reaches your screen, sculpties will often have a weird blobby quality when you're first rezzing in a new location. (Note that the texture that defines the surface and the visible texture on the surface are two different textures, unless blurry psychedelic colors are really your thing.) Sculpties allow one to do elaborate constructions with fewer prims, but the level of detail can vary by what sort of program you use and how well you make use of it.

Silks: Silks are generally scanty outfits with flexiprim 'veils' at various attachment points. They originated in the Gorean roleplaying subculture but the term has since spread into the mainstream of SL.

Sim: Short for "simulator", this is actually shorthand for a 256x256 meter (65,536 mē) region that land in SL is subdivided into.

Skybox: A building, usually residential, that hovers far above the surface with no visible (or invisible) means of support. Skyboxes take advantage of the fact that, within Second Life, Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation is more like Newton's Supplemental Rule, which objects must 'opt-in' to via ticky box. Skyboxes provide a certain modicum of privacy, since they usually occupy an altitude that cannot be reached by unaided flight. (Teleporation is the usual means of entry.) Some have spectacular views, while others may just have views of . . . other skyboxes. Note that they can be rezzed above any land that allows building, must to the surprise of some landowners who found skyboxes hovering far above their houses . . . and consuming their prim limit.

SL: Abbreviation for "Second Life."

Stream: Streaming music is, of course, not a feature unique to Second Life. Internet radio stations of all kinds have flourished because of it. Second Life has the option to stream music (and video) on a given parcel of land. You can, for example, set your land to play your favorite internet radio station. Musicians will use streams to play at a given Second Life location. Clubs will often have their own streams that DJs can access to play their set, but sometimes DJs will need to provide their own stream (Shoutcast seems to be the most common provider for this) and the club will then change the parcel settings to play that particular stream.

Teleport: The main means of long-distance travel in Second Life. Is often used as a noun as much as a verb, since the interface is such that one 'offers a teleport' to someone else.

Tier: The common term for the Land Use Fee charged for mainland. Think of it as a monthly 'property tax.' The first 512 square meters of mainland are free with a Premium membership and then tier increases based on the amount of land you own. Note this is for mainland property--island property is paid for directly to Linden Lab by the owner of the island, and how said owner charges for 'purchase' of land on that island is up to that individual.

Tiny: When used as a noun instead of an adjective, a "Tiny" describes an avatar that combines a very small body shape, numerous attachments and an animation override to become a small creature (or robot, or what have you) of some kind.

Titler: A scripted object, worn as an attachment somewhere around the head, that places hovertext over the avatar, for whatever reason one may want to put some there.

TP: Abbreviation for "Teleport."

Viewer: The program used to access Second Life, much as a web browser allows one to access the World Wide Web. The standard issue viewer can be downloaded from but there are also other viewers that avies can make use of, some by individual programmers and others created through open source initiatives. A short list can be found here.

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