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

These days, it seems as if there are countless internet-based acronyms that have popped up, leaving many confused about what they are and what they mean. One such example is “SMH.”

What Does SMH Mean?

SMH is an acronym for “shake my head” or “shaking my head.” Generally speaking, it is used when someone is attempting to invoke disgust, shock, or sadness with the actions or statements of someone else. It can also be used to invoke these emotions at the state of the world or current events.

There is often judgment implied with the use of SMH, as someone is typically judging the actions or statements of someone else in a negative light. It often implies that someone thinks the action of another is so absurdly stupid that they cannot comprehend the words to describe just how stupid the action is. As such, only an acronym will suffice to explain their feelings.

Regardless of the specifics, the acronym SMH implies negative emotions and disapproval with the action that the statement’s use is referring to.

When Did This Word Start Being Used?

SMH is an older internet-based initialism. According to the website Know Your Meme, the first documented use of smh can be traced back to 2004 when a user submitted it to Urban Dictionary. Other variations of the word of since been added, including smdh, which is short for “shaking my damn head.” However, these variations have failed to gain as much traction as the original, which remains wildly popular and in use.

A variety of other articles by internet-based news sources have also tracked the use and popularity of smh, noting that the acronym’s meaning has remained largely consistent over time.

How Can You Use SMH?

SMH is generally used in text or social media and has not found its way into formal language use. As noted above, it can be used to describe feelings or emotions conjured by the actions of someone else. In certain contexts, it can also be used to express disgust at one’s own behavior or errors. Examples include:

  • “I cannot believe Johnny tried to jump over the fire pit smh”
  • “Now that bill is late and I owe $200 in fines smh so stupid”

It can also be used as an exclamation of sorts. For example, if someone responded to a story above someone else’s stupidity with “SMH,” that is a short way of saying, “Man, I can’t believe that person is that stupid!”

The advent of emojis has seen somewhat of a resurgence of smh. For example, smh is often paired with a negative emoji, like the face-palm emoji. Both obviously imply extensive stupidity and disgust with an action.