What Does SMH Mean and How to Use It in Texting

Understand the meaning of SMH in texting

What to Know

  • Type SMH in text messages or social media when conveying that you're shaking your head in response to something.
  • SMH is one of several online abbreviations being popularized, including WTH, TBH, and BAE.

This article explains how and when to use the abbreviation "SMH" in text messages and online platforms.

How SMH Is Used

If you've been online or received a text message with SMH used in it, don't let it confuse you. It's a popular online acronym used in social media posts or in text messages to express the physical body language of "shaking my head" in resignation, disappointment, disagreement, frustration, or disbelief.

It might be in response to somebody else's behavior, an event that took place, or the state of a situation. The issue typically involves something that a person wants to respond to but is at a loss for the right words to use. Regardless, in real life, the only appropriate response is to shake your head. Hence the use of SMH as an online response.

An illustration of a mobile device that has a conversation onscreen with 'SMH' included
Nusha Ashjaee / Lifewire

Examples of SMH in Use

Example 1:

As an example, let's say that a Twitter user tweeted something about how their favorite sports team just lost a game. They could add SMH at the end of the tweet to further express their disappointment:

"The Purple Eagles totally should've won that game! They had it when Pizzaburghenshire made that shot!! SMH."

Example 2:

In another example, let's say that your teenage son replied with nothing but a simple SMH text message after you messaged him to say that there's absolutely no way you can lend him the car on Saturday for a meet-up with his anime fan club friends. He's clearly disappointed:

You: "I need the car this Saturday, so you'll have to find another way to get to your weekly Nakuro Dragonflame X meeting."

Your son: "SMH"

Using SMH the Right Way

There aren't any strict rules at all for using this acronym. You can type it in all uppercase letters, all lowercase letters, with a phrase, or on its own.

All you really need to remember is that SMH is used to emphasize a more expressive reaction that words alone can't really communicate. And besides, SMH is a lot easier and faster than typing, "I'm shaking my head in disbelief," or something similar.

If you do decide to use it yourself, keep in mind that not everyone will know what it means, especially older adults and people who only use the internet and social media on a very casual basis. Take the people you're communicating with into consideration, and your relationship with them, to predict whether they'll be able to easily interpret the meaning of SMH or not.

Finding Real-Life Examples of SMH

If you want to see more examples of this acronym used in the wild, search for the term or hashtag on some of your favorite social networks. Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr are good places to start since lots of people with public profiles or blogs use the term or tag (#smh) in their posts.

Why Use SMH

Acronyms like SMH and other abbreviated words are part of a big trend in online communities or private messaging that help people save time while also adding an extra emotional response that may be more difficult to express with words alone. As the world continues to embrace mobile web browsing and instant messaging, you can expect trends like wth, smh, tbh, bae, and all the rest of these crazy short-form words to show up more in your everyday online use, along with newer ones that will probably pop up in the future.