1. What does AWOL mean in the military?

Absent without official leave

In the military, AWOL is when a soldier leaves their post or assignment without first receiving official permission. Typically, the soldier does not intend to desert; they are just not at their post (e.g., they may have overslept and not returned to their scheduled duty).

The military usage of AWOL dates back to the 1920s. Officers may use it in various contexts, including when filing official documents or as a noun when referring to soldiers (pronounced "a-wall").

AWOL in other contexts

People may use AWOL in contexts other than the military to describe people who have gone rogue without informing anyone (similar to ghosting). For example, your boss may text you, "James is awol again. Can you come in and cover his shift today? I can pay you overtime." Or, one of your group members for a class project may be a no-show, and you email the other members, "Trent is AWOL. I can't get a hold of him. I'll just do his part tonight, then let the teacher know tomorrow."


I've tried Ian's cell 10 times and he won't pick up. He's gone AWOL
I think we're just gonna have to go to his house and confront him in person
OK. Let's go
AWOL confession on Reddit
AWOL confession on Reddit

Related Slang


Updated November 8, 2023
2. What does AWOL mean online?

Absent while online

If your friend is online but unresponsive, you might refer to them as "AWOL," meaning they are absent online. The acronym comes from the military version of AWOL, which stands for "absent without official leave" (a bit more serious than stepping away from your computer for a while).

You will likely only encounter this version of AWOL when online on a forum, social site, etc. For example, if you ask your friend a question and they take a while to respond, another friend may comment, "It looks like Brian is AWOL again." Or, you


hey, ru at your computer or ru awol?
im here! sry about the delay

Looking for your AWOL friend online

Related Slang


Updated November 21, 2023

AWOL definition by

This page explains what the acronym "AWOL" means. The various definitions, examples, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

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