What Does TFW Mean?

Sharing experiences online to convey emotion

TFW is internet slang for "that feel when," "that feeling when," or "that face when," and is used to convey emotions about something.

Maybe you spotted TFW in a social media post, a comment, or a text, followed by a phrase. It's a popular saying on social media, and no, it's not always grammatically correct.

How TFW Is Used

People typically use TFW to convey some kind of emotion or feeling in any given context that's relatable enough for other people online to know exactly what you mean, yet while still remaining open-ended enough that they can come up with their own interpretation of it.

The grammatically correct way to say TFW would be along the lines of, "I love the feeling you get when..." or I love that feeling when..."

In the initialism, the word "feel" is used as a shortened, slang term for "feeling."

Person looking at a "TFW no GF" meme on a mobile phone
Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

Examples of How TFW Is Used

"TFW you're lying in bed at 4am still wide awake."

"TFW you finally get a text back after seven and a half hours."

"TFW you realize you almost just poured coffee in your cereal instead of milk."

The three examples above should give you a good idea of how the trend works. In general, the acronym is used at the very beginning of a sentence, followed by some kind of mundane, everyday activity that most people have done before.

TFW is almost always used at the beginning of a sentence, but it can still make sense if used in the middle. For example, the following sentence makes sense: "I've got uncontrollable shivers and TFW you've just trekked all the way to the North Pole and back."

Tips on Getting the Hang of Using TFW in Your Own Digital Vocabulary

TFW can work with more exciting, not-so-mundane activities as well. They tend to come off as more humorous and exaggerated than relatable, though. For example:

"TFW when you go skydiving but forget to take out your retainer first."

Relatable? Not really. Hilarious? Absolutely.

Building on the humorous/exaggerated effect of TFW, online users will sometimes put TFW at the beginning of a completely ridiculous situation that's extremely specific and not at all relatable (but at least somewhat imaginable, thanks to the detailed description) in order to exaggerate the expression.

The acronym is popular on Twitter and Instagram since it works perfectly for describing odd, hilarious, and awkward situations using text speak, bad grammar, and short forms of other words.

As with most memes and acronyms that seemingly tend to come out of nowhere, TFW is primarily embraced by younger social media users who have no problem with never spelling anything correctly or using improper grammar. Even though the internet is becoming increasingly visual these days with the number of social media platforms that are driven by image and video sharing, plus the rise of emoji, the TFW trend offers just a little extra communicable emotion that can sort of be left up to the reader's imagination.

The Origin of TFW

It's unclear exactly where the acronym originated from, but it could very likely be tied to the I Know That Feel Bro meme, which features a simply drawn character hugging another character as if he were empathizing with him. It popped up on the Internet sometime in 2010.

Memes have come a long way in helping people communicate their feelings and emotions online. From Feels Good and Feels Good, Man, to simply just Feels and Feels Bad Man, it's clear that using meme variations has become a very acceptable way to emotionally express what words can't.

While TFW is generally meant to be accompanied by a descriptive sentence of some sort of relatable situation, it can be paired with a photo or even a GIF to further visually express the emotion behind the message. Sometimes, nothing conveys it better than an image.

And that's all you need to know about the TFW trend. Now you can go ahead and get on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or whichever social network you want to join in on all the relatable TFW fun, and see how many likes/retweets/reblogs you'll get from all your friends who get it.