The Meaning of MFW: What It Is and How To Use It

This article will give you all of the info you need on the acronym MFW, including its definition, common usage, sentence examples, and more!

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What does the acronym MFW stand for?

According to Cyber Definitions and Urban Dictionary, the acronym MFW stands for “My Face When.” This internet slang term is used to show how a person would respond to a given situation, often accompanied by a reaction image or meme. This is used almost identically to the acronym TFW, which stands for “That Feeling When.”

MFW memes are part of a series of relatable posts, which all start with the phrase “when you.” These are often images accompanied by funny captions on websites like Twitter. The images have a caption with a relatable situation that is normally unrelated to the picture, but that creates humor when accompanied by the text.

Where is the acronym MFW commonly used? Where did the phrase originate?

This slang word is most commonly seen in text conversations as well as on social media. One friend might send another friend an emoji or picture with a funny caption beginning with “MFW…” via SMS text message. This could be used to make a joke, to lighten the mood, or to break bad news to someone in a funny way

Know Your Meme states that threads of “MFW” reactions began to appear on message and image boards on the website 4chan in 2009as “greentext stories.” The phrase made its way to Urban Dictionary in 2010, and have continued to spread across the internet, breaking away from 4chan and onto other social media sites like Tumblr, Twitter, and others.

According to The Washington Post, 4chan is an anonymous internet forum similar to websites like Reddit. The website has upwards of 22 million users. Unlike Reddit, though, users do not need to make a username or register to post on the site.

Also in 2010, a website called launched. This website was dedicated to compiling these memes into one place. Another similar website,, launched in 2011. These threads have also become popular on forum sites like Reddit, and there was an official MFW subreddit launched in 2011.

What are similar acronyms to the abbreviation MFW?

The most similar acronym to MFW is TFW, which stands for “That Feel When” or “That Feeling When.” This phrase is used almost identically to MFW in that, according to How To Geek, it is usually accompanied by an emotive picture and creates commentary or humor from a situation. Both of these abbreviations are used more like memes than actual acronyms one would use in a sentence. The popularity of the phrase MFW peaked in 2010 and was quickly overtaken by TFW. Both of these terms are used to respond to emotional situations, often disgust or surprise. TFW is considered the closest synonym to MFW.

How could MFW be used via text messaging or on social media?

People typically do not use MFW or TFW aloud, and the phrases are almost exclusively used via text. These acronyms are usually found at the beginning of a sentence to alert the reader that they are looking for an emotional context or meme. These phrases are usually accompanied by photos or GIFs, but since their popularity has grown, it is no longer imperative to include a photo. However, it is common for people to instead use emojis to express their face or emotion in context. Below are a couple of examples of different ways the abbreviation MFW can be used.

In the first example, MFW is used to lighten the mood and create dark humor. Kamren texts his dad.

Kamren: MFW I get towed less than 24 hours after having my license and need my dad to come bail me 🥴 🥴 🥴

Dad: R U serious Kam?!

Kamren: Maybe… can you come pick me up? And loan me $200?

Dad: This is your first and last warning: do not let this happen again. I’m on my way.

Here, Kamren tries to make a joke about getting towed less than a day after getting his license. He uses MFW alongside the woozy face emoji. His father, however, does not think the joke is funny – especially when it is costing him $200. 

Later that year, Kamren sends another text in the family group chat with his mother, father, and older sister.

Kamren: MFW I get into YALE! 😱 😱 😱

Sister: MFW my brother follows in my footsteps! 😭 😭 😭 So proud of u, Kam!

Mom: MFW I have two Ivy League children! 🥳 🥳 🥳 Amazing, Kamren!

Dad: MFW I have to pay for TWO Yale tuitions! 💸 💸 💸

Sister: Ugh, MFW dad ruins the moment. 😑 😑 😑

Here, the entire family is using MFW with emojis to express their feelings about Kamren getting into Yale. Kamren uses a shocked face emoji to show his surprise at his admittance. His sister uses the crying face emoji to show that the is emotional about Kamren following in her footsteps by attending Yale. Their mom uses the party hat emoji to show that she is celebrating. Dad then uses the money flying away emoji to make fun of everyone else using MFW and about the cost of tuition at Yale. Finally, Kamren’s sister uses the expressionless face emoji to show that she is unamused by their dad ruining the happy moment of Kamren’s admittance to Yale.

Overall, the trending phrase MFW stands for “My Face When.” This phrase, as well as its variant “TFW,” which stands for “That Feeling When” are a series of reaction memes used as captions for funny images. These are often used as relatable memes on websites like Reddit and Twitter, or over SMS text messaging.