What Does TFW Mean?

Ever since the inception of SMS text messaging, we have devised our very own language of smileys, emoticons, and text abbreviations. In our modern society, the world is heavily influenced by social media and many tech-savvy users are well aware of common acronyms like LOL or ROFL. There are, however, many more acronyms other than these basic ones: one popular example is TFW. But what does TFW mean, and how should you use it in different conversations? That is exactly what we are going to figure out in the next few sections.   


Meaning Of TFW  

The typical meaning of TFW is “that feeling when”. However, its exact meaning can be a tad ambiguous. In certain instances, TFW can also mean “the feeling when” or “that feel when”. If you’re using it in the beginning of a sentence, TFW is usually an attempt to evoke a common or relatable feeling from your audience.   

History Of TFW  

TFW was said to evolve from the “I know that feel bro” meme which is extensively used online for comically conveying empathy. One of the most common uses of TFW is the example, “TFW no gf”. This alludes to the feeling experienced when someone is sad over not having a girlfriend. In internet speak, it is common to replace the word “feelings” or “feeling” with a simple and relatively concise “feel”. A common example of this would be someone saying they “caught feels” instead of the grammatically correct “feelings”.   

tfw meme

Are There Any Other Interpretations Of TFW?  

Certain individuals interpret TFW as “that face when,” which has almost the same meaning as “that feeling when” but with more emphasis on your facial expression when you’re experiencing a specific physical or emotional reaction.

Alternatively, on YouTube TFW is used as the shorthand for “thanks for watching”.   

How To Use TFW  

TFW can be used in several ways to interpret or express your feelings. For instance, it can be used for expressing a painful, emotional, awkward, or even exciting feeling. One example could be “TFW when I hit my pinky toe”.   

TFW can be used to describe a specific emotional experience. This reaction is reinforced with the help of a GIF, meme, or image. Another possible example could be “TFW it’s almost Friday” paired with a photo or GIF of an excited or extremely happy person.    


You can also use TFW in a humorous manner when captioning images, GIFs, or videos. For instance, if a certain trailer reveals the good parts of a movie, you can always say something like “TFW the trailer shows you the best parts of the movie”.   

Bottom Line  

To put it simply, TFW evokes an emotional outreach to convey a relatable feeling. Often, TFW is followed by a “when” which is completely redundant, since the “W” of TFW stands for “when”. We can forgive the redundancy in grammar here, because grammar may not always be your priority when you’re expressing your feels.

Written by Erin

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