What Does “TFW” Mean, and How Do You Use It?

Internet-based jargon can be complicated for outside users, and particularly for those who don’t text or use social media on a regular basis. The good news is that there is usually an easy way to understand what some internet acronyms actually mean. The bad news is that their context can be confusing, and the initialism itself often requires an explanation of internet culture. Such is the case for TFW.

What does TFW mean?

TFW is short for “That Feeling When.” It can be used in either a positive or negative context and is generally used before describing some sort of emotional experience. It can be seen as a signal – or even a warning – that the subsequent text will be about an experience that someone had.

Alternative’s for TFW include “That face when,” which largely has the same meaning. However, generally speaking, TFW is understood to mean “That feeling when,” and any alternative meaning would require clarification.

Some have noted that the more grammatically correct way of using TFW would be saying, “I love/hate that feeling when….”

In general, TFW is a reflection of the self-referential nature of the internet. Indeed, the entire expression is redundant. Most of the time, it is not necessary, and the sentence that it proceeds can likely stand on its own. However, it has become something of a marker, either for self-deprecation expressing joy about a particular sensation.

How long has TFW been used?

One theory for the spread of TFW holds that it began after a once-popular meme that features a badly drawn man hugging another, with the caption, “I know that feel, bro.” The “that feel” portion of the sentence morphed into “That feeling when,” and the expression took off from there. This was around 2010. However, Google Trends demonstrates that the phrase was barely researched until April 2012, when people began to look up its meanings. Searches for TFW spiked in August 2016.

How would you use TFW?

As noted above, TFW is a precursor for an experience, either bad or good, relatable, or completely random. For example:

  • “tfw you wake up and realize that your girlfriend isn’t in bed…and won’t be back in the bed…ever.”
  • “tfw your boyfriend cooks you breakfast in bed!”

It usually is used more in social media, rather than a text, as the “tfw” isn’t really needed in a text. Furthermore, it is usually used only in lower case. Like most internet initialisms, it can be easily paired with any number of emoji. These emoji – like the “TFW” itself – can be used to heighten the positive or negative context of the tweet. TFW is also often used with a GIF.

What Does “HMU” Mean, and How Do You Use It?

If you are like the vast majority of people these days, there are probably moments where you look at a seemingly random string of letters on the internet, blink, and go, “Huh? What does THAT mean?” Thankfully, most of the time, there is a relatively intuitive explanation for what a piece of internet slang means, although the cultural context surrounding a phrase can be more complicated.

Such is the case for the phrase “HMU.”

What does HMU mean?

HMU is short for “hit me up.” If you are unfamiliar with that expression, don’t worry, it’s easy enough to understand. It essentially means “Give me a call” or “Reach out when you can.” It is essentially one person’s way of telling another to reach out via a call, text, or message in order to further communicate.

There is at least one alternative meaning of HMU, “hook me up,” which means “Please get me something” or “Please get me that thing which you were talking about.” However, “hit me up” is the generally agreed-upon definition.

How long has HMU been around?

Search trends for HMU were non-existent until 2010, indicating that the trend didn’t start to be used until that time period. Trends for this phrase reached their peak around June/July of 2011, and have been relatively stable, albeit lower, since then. There has been no subsequent spike.

How do you use HMU?

HMU is usually meant as a request or as a follow-up. For example:

  • “Heading out later today hmu if interested”
  • “hmu when you get out of class”

Since it is usually used as a request to one person, or a group of people on a group text, it usually is more common in texting use, rather than social media. However, there are certain moments where one could theoretically tell others on their Facebook or Twitter feed to hit them up if they were interested in doing something. For example:

  • “Heading to a concert later tonight, hmu if you want to go!”

Like almost all internet initialisms, this one would have no place in a formal document – particularly given that it is less known than many others. Furthermore, using HMU in all caps is generally frowned upon – it is usually used in all lowercase.

Some have also noted that there is a potentially flirtatious context for HMU, so you should be careful when using it that your intentions are clear.