What Does TBF Mean? | The Word Counter

Do you know how to use the abbreviation TBF? This article will give you all of the info you need on the internet slang term TBF, including its definition, usage, synonyms, useful text conversations, and more!

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What does the slang term TBF mean?

According to Urban Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, and other dictionary apps, the abbreviation TBF is an internet slang term that stands for “to be fair.” This phrase is used on social media and text messages when sharing an opinion that takes everything in the situation into account in order to pass fair judgment. Sometimes this phrase is used to play devil’s advocate, or to express disagreement with someone. For example, someone might say, “I hate Joan! She’s so mean!” to which someone could respond “TBF, you did humiliate her in front of the whole school.” Collins Dictionary states that one will use the expression to be fair in a sentence when they are looking to correct a false impression or false statement in a gentle way.

According to The Free Dictionary and Acronym Finder, the abbreviation TBF can also stand for a number of other things. These meanings, however, are far less common than the internet slang term  “to be fair” and should be used sparingly. If you are going to sue one of these alternate definitions, make sure that the context is clear – you wouldn’t want someone thinking you meant “to be fair” when you really meant “taken by force!”

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  • Taken By Force
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  • Transferts Banque de France (French: Bank Transfers of France; finance)
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  • To Be Freaky
  • Triple Butterfly (gaming)
  • Turbo Fax
  • Trial By Fire
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  • Team Battlefield (gaming clan)
  • Trajectory-Based Forwarding
  • To Be Frank
  • Tampa Bay, Florida
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  • Tres Basse Frequence (French: Very Low Frequency; France)
  • Total Batters Faced (baseball statistic)
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  • To Be Furnished
  • Turike Bilardo Federasyonu (Turkish Billiard Federation)
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How can the slang term TBF be used in a sentence?

The slang term TBF can be used in a wide variety of different circumstances to express one’s unbiased opinion. This abbreviation would usually be seen on social media or via text message, and would rarely be spoken aloud since it does not save one any time to pronounce the initialism. Below are a couple of examples of ways in which the abbreviation TBF can be used in a sentence. In this first example, Nessie and Sam are talking about their math teacher.

Sam: Ms. Rubin is so mean all the time. Like, what does she have against us?

Nessie: I don’t know, I don’t think she’s that bad. She’s tough but I think she’s a good teacher.

Sam: Yeah, she likes you. She has it out for me. I can’t do anything right in her class.

Nessie: To be fair, she did catch you cheating. Twice.

Sam: Whose side are you on?! Now let me see your homework.

Here, Nessie uses the phrase to be fair to explain why their math teacher might have a vendetta against Sam. In this next example, Nessie and Sam are talking about Nessie’s crush Devyn.

Nessie: Devyn is never going to notice me. I’m going to be an old hag who no one loves. 

Sam: To be fair, have you ever even talked to Devyn?

Nessie:… No.

Sam: Then how exactly would Devyn notice you?

Nessie: You have a point.

What is the origin of the phrase to be fair?

According to Etymonline, the word fair has been used to mean equitable, impartial, or free from bias since the mid-14th century. Before this, it was used to mean in accordance with justice since the early 13th century. The word fair comes from the Old English fæger which meant to be pleasing to the sight or morally good. This came from the Proto-Germanic word fagraz, which meant beautiful. 

What are synonyms for the phrase to be fair?

There are many different words one can use in place of the word fair in the phrase to be fair. One might choose to use one of these synonyms if they do not want to repeat themselves, or if they want their statement to be more formal by avoiding using a slang term or acronym. This list of synonyms is provided by Thesaurus

  • principled
  • on up-and-up
  • courteous
  • aboveboard
  • just
  • even-handed
  • equal
  • pious
  • trustworthy
  • decent
  • praiseworthy
  • clean
  • blameless
  • proper
  • temperate
  • on the level
  • virtuous
  • dispassionate
  • moderate
  • scrupulous
  • unprejudiced
  • disinterested
  • lawful
  • equitable
  • impartial
  • square
  • objective
  • unbiased
  • good
  • legitimate
  • frank
  • sincere
  • nonpartisan
  • uncolored
  • benevolent
  • impartial
  • straight
  • civil
  • open
  • upright
  • honest
  • reasonable
  • honorable
  • respectable
  • generous
  • straightforward
  • candid
  • uncorrupted
  • righteous

Overall, TBF is an internet slang term that stands for the phrase “to be fair.” The phrase to be fair is used when someone wants to add a favorable comment about a situation, or to correct a wrong impression. This is used to show that someone believes they are being fair and not taking sides. The trending abbreviation TBF is usually used on social media or via text messages.


  1. https://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/TBF#:~:text=Acronym,To%20Be%20Fair%20(Internet%20slang)
  2. https://www.acronymfinder.com/Slang/TBF.html
  3. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/tbf
  4. https://www.etymonline.com/word/fair#:~:text=fair%20(adv.),honorably%3B%22%20mid%2D14c.
  5. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/fair
  6. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tbf
  7. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/to-be-fair#:~:text=Definition%20of%20′(to)%20be%20fair’&text=You%20use%20fair%20in%20expressions,young%20and%20not%20yet%20settled.