TikTok Slang Explained

Originally launching in China as A.me in 2016 before rebranding as Douyin later that year, ByteDance, the parent company, wanted to launch another app that would appeal to others on a global scale whilst also lacking the restrictions that the Chinese government put in place on Douyin. That new app was named TikTok and launched in the September of 2017. In the years that followed, it grew to the point that it had been downloaded more than 2 billion times globally, with celebrities and politicians alike using the TikTok platform. When any new social media platform launches, of course, new slang words are born with it and TikTok is no exception.

The Slang to Look Out For

Girl holding mobile with TikTok app
tashatuvango, Bigstockphoto

Whether you’re a parent trying to keep an eye on what their kids are up to or someone new to TikTok trying to understand what everyone is talking about, there are numerous algorithms in play on TikTok that you could do with understanding. As is often the case, some of the acronyms that are used on TikTok are also used on other social media sites, whilst some of them tend to be exclusive to the TikTok platform that we’re talking about here.

BMS – Broke My Scale

It is not uncommon for TikTok accounts to ask you to rank people in terms of attractiveness, usually by showing you videos of celebrities. You might see someone reply with BMS, which means ‘Broke My Scale’ and is suggestive of someone being so attractive that they’ve broken the scale, being even more attractive than the highest possible rating would allow for.

FYP – For You Page

On TikTok, the ‘For You Page’ is a tab that is going to show you videos that the social media platform’s algorithm believes you’ll enjoy. Some people choose to abbreviate this to FYP.

GRWM – Get Ready With Me

Typically found on fashion and lifestyle TikTok pages, the acronym GRWM means ‘Get Ready With Me’ and, as it suggests, is for videos that show users how the person concerned goes about about their daily routine, doing the likes of picking out their clothes, having breakfast and hitting the gym or whatever else the person is claiming that they do on a normal day.

IYKYK – If You Know You Know

Sometimes, TikTok users look to share a joke that isn’t common knowledge. They might put IYKYK as a tag on their post, saying that If You Know, You Know, intimating that if you don’t know then you’re not going to get the joke.

L – Loss

Typically used in the context of saying ‘taking the L’, this means ‘Loss’, as in ‘taking the loss’.

W – Win

This is the flip side of a previous acronym, with W being the opposite of L. It stands for ‘Win’ and might be used in the context of something along the lines of ‘Leaving work early FTW’.

MFW – My Face When

It is common for people on TikTok to do reaction videos, showing how they react to certain situations. The acronym MFW is used to say ‘My Face When’, such as ‘MFW my neighbour is having another party without inviting me’.

TFW – That Feeling When

Not entirely dissimilar to MFW, TFW stands for ‘That Feeling When’ and might be included with a video showing a person’s reaction to a particular scenario. As in, “TFW your neighbour is having another party and you’re not invited’.

NPC – Non-Playable Character

NPC is an acronym from the world of video games, referring to Non-Playable Characters. On TikTok, it is used in reference to people that act like an NPC and as if they aren’t part of the real world.

NSFW – Not Suitable For Work

This is an important acronym to pay attention to if you’re the sort of person that mindlessly scrolls through social media at work. If something has been branded NSFW then it is ‘Not Suitable For Work’, or ‘Not Safe For Work’. It means that it is liable to have some content that you’d get in trouble for watching if someone caught you.

OOMF – One Of My Followers

TikTok users might want to either offer credit for or draw attention to one of their followers but without actually naming them. OOMF is a way of doing just that, being shorthand for ‘One Of My Followers’. Someone might say ‘OOMF asked me how I do my make-up, so here’s a quick video showing how’, as an example.

OOTD – Outfit Of The Day

Another one for fashion and lifestyle TikTok, a user might say that they’re offering you a look at what they’re wearing on that particular occasion by saying that it is there OOTD, or ‘Outfit Of The Day’.

POV – Point Of View

As an acronym, POV certainly isn’t something that is limited to TikTok. Standing for ‘Point Of View’, it means that you’re seeing something from a particular person’s perspective.

IB – Inspired By

Should someone say that a video was IB, it means that it was ‘Inspired By’ another video, usually offering link to the video that provided the inspiration.

FR – For Real

Typically posted in a sceptical manner, FR means that the poster is asking someone if they are being serious or joking around. Are they ‘For Real’?

DNI – Do Not Interact

It is common for someone to put DNI on a TikTok that is meant for people aged 18 and over. Standing for ‘Do Not Interact’, it can also be used if someone is posting about something that they don’t want others to engage them over.

DC – Dance Credit

There are numerous different dance crazes that tend to take over TikTok, so you will often see people doing a dance and then include a DC in the captions in order to offer a ‘Dance Credit’ to the person that came up with the trend.

Words & Phrases

Not everything on TikTok is expressed through acronyms, with some things discussed courtesy of specific words that have meanings. In order to be part of the conversation and understand what it is that people are talking about, it is helpful to be just as clear about the words and phrases as it is to know the acronyms. Here is a look at some of the key ones:

Unalive – Dead

There is a belief from some users that TikTok moves to sensor certain words, so Unalive might be used instead of ‘Dead’ in order to get around possible sensorship.

Spilling the Tea – Gossip

When someone has some gossip to share then this is often referred to as ‘Spilling the Tea’. Interestingly, it began life as ‘Spill the T’, with the ‘T’ standing for ‘Truth’. In the late 2010s the TV show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, popularised the use of of ‘Spill the Tea’, which had now entered the modern lexicon and tends to mean ‘gossip’ or ‘juicy details’.

Bet – Yes

Tending to be used as an affirmation, as in ‘You Bet’, the shortened form of ‘Bet’ tends to be used to confirm something.

Ate That – Good Job

Someone might respond to someone else’s video and say that they Ate That, meaning that they ‘ate it all up’ and did a very good job. They might also suggest that someone ‘left no crumbs’, but it basically means the same thing.

Caught in 4K – Caught Red-Handed

In the past, we might have said that someone had been ‘caught red-handed’ doing something. In the modern era, however, modern terminology is used instead, so ‘Caught in 4K’ is the modern equivalent. In essence, it means that the guilty party was caught in clear fashion and won’t be able to deny their misdeed.

Cheugy – Uncool

If something is described as ‘Cheugy’ then it means that it is off-trend or uncool. The phrase essentially means that someone has tried to do something but has missed the mark.

Delulu – Delusional

There are some words and phrases that are almost pointless insomuch as they take as much time to say as the word that they are replacing, with Delulu being just such an example. It works in place of ‘Delusional’ and is suggestive of someone having unrealistic expectations.

Granola Girl – Outdoorsy

To call someone a ‘Granola Girl’ is to suggest that they are aware of their carbon footprint and likes to be environmentally conscious; eating granola instead of a sausage butty, say.

Mid – Nothing Special

Often used to describe the likes of music or movies, if something is called ‘Mid’ then it means that it doesn’t have anything that surpasses anyone’s expectations.

Ratio – Betting Than the Original

If something on TikTok gets ‘Ratio’ then it means that it has received more support and likes than the original thing that it was reacting to.

Rizz – Attractive

Somebody described as having or being Rizz means that they are good at flirting and is attractive to other people.

Crop – Repost the Video but Cropped

If you’ve posted a video and someone has replied ‘Crop’, it typically means that they’d like you to reload it but with a crop that means that it isn’t obscured by something that must have been getting in the way of the original.

Devious Lick – Stolen Goods

Devious Lick is a TikTok trend that asks users to post a video with some stolen goods in it or even some drugs. It isn’t clear whether this one was made up by the police to catch criminals.

Fruity – LGBTQ+

Someone being described as ‘Fruity’ means that they are in the LGBTQ+ community.

Hogging – Chasing a Plus-Size Girl

There are numerous parts of TikTok that are quite offensive, with ‘Hogging’ being in that category. It is when a group of boys will try to hook up with the fattest girl at a party or in a club; chasing the ‘hog’.

Heather – Attractive

In Conan Gray’s song Heather, the singer wishes that they were Heather, a desirable girl that everyone wants to be. If someone says that you’re a ‘Heather’ on TikTok then it means that they think you’re attractive.

TikTok Brain – Struggling to Focus

TikTok works by offering short, sharp videos that are straight to the point. It is common for people with short attention spans to enjoy TikTok, given that they can quickly move on to something else. At the same time, a user might reference themselves having a ‘TikTok Brain’ when they struggle to focus on the task at hand, perhaps because they’ve spent too long on the social media platform.

CEO – The Best At

In real life, CEO is an acronym for ‘Chief Executive Officer’. The reason we haven’t put this is in the acronym section, however, is that it doesn’t really mean that on TikTok. Instead, it is just a way of saying that you think someone is the best at something. If they’ve posted a video about something someone might say that they are the ‘CEO of Editing’, for example, to mean that they think that they are the best editor on the platform.

Pick Me Girl – Attention Seeker

On TikTok, someone who is described as a ‘Pick Me Girl’ is someone that is looking for attention. The insinuation is that they’re doing something specifically to gain the attention, usually, of men, with Pick Me Girls often criticising the behaviour of other women in order to win a man’s approval.

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