What Does Neg Mean?

Couple Talking at a Cafe
George Clerk/ Vetts/ Getty Images

A neg is a backhanded compliment, usually said by a man to a woman, to surprise and/or annoy her so she does a double take and tries to prove her value to the man. Negging comes from the Pick Up Artist community and was a very popular method suggested to men who wanted to take very attractive women "down a notch" in the mid-2000s.

Negs are short, sincere, to the point and should make the intended 'target' laugh or smile.

A neg intends to show an attractive woman that the guy talking to her offers something new and exciting to the conversation yet isn't tongue tied, swayed by her beauty or intimidated. As many men approaching attractive women start off with a compliment, this distinguishes the man who negs from the crowd. As well, if the neg works properly, the woman will try to prove her value to the man by engaging him, chasing him or other preening behaviors that show sexual or romantic interest. Although there are no formal studies (that I could find) about the effectiveness of a neg, many in the Pick Up Artist community have honed these versions of pickup lines so well, they can predict how many women will respond positively

The term neg originates with a Pick Up Artist who goes by the name Mystery (real name: Erik von Markovik). Mystery coined the term around 2004 or 2005 through his company, The Mystery Method, which teaches Average Frustrated Chumps (AFCs) how to transform into master seducers.

Neil Strauss' book, The Game (2005) and The Truth (2015) both speak often of negs and how to use them within the context of Mystery's Method.

As the concept of the neg evolved, some men found it more useful as a means to "take down", the "8s, 9s, and 10s" with a well-positioned neg. Meaning, they felt the usefulness of the line(s) were wasted on less attractive women, as they didn't need to "be taken down a notch", they were already lower down on the value totem pole to start with.

While not every neg is used in this way, it became synonymous with very physically attractive women and their (supposed) lack of self esteem for this reason. These women thus became highly sought after: those that were physically ideal, yet, couldn't tell they were being manipulated with a simple social proof. 

Examples of a Neg

  • Growing up there was a kid in my class who always wore a weird green sweater, and we used to tease him about looking like a giant booger. I swear this sweater (touch arm lightly) is the same color!
  • Wow, great hair. Extensions?
  • When I first walked in I thought you had bitter beer face, but after talking to you I realized you just weren't having a good time.
  • Wow, you look just like my Aunt Beatrice! (or sister, or grandmother if you're really bold)
  • Talking to her friends, if she's not letting anyone else talk, "So, do you ever get a word in when this one's around?"

Negs Are Also Known As

backhanded compliment, crack, cut, dig, insult, joke, jibe, parting shot, put-down, scoff, slam, snappy comeback, snub, take-down, taunt

Usage Examples in Popular Literature

"Lisa was neg-proof. Next to her, other girls seemed like incomplete human beings." ~ page 438, The Game by Neil Strauss

"Neg me baby, I'm insecure." ~ seen on a woman's t-shirt