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

Have you ever wondered what the trending abbreviation TFW stands for? This guide will provide you with all of the knowledge you need on the acronym TFW, including its definition, usage, sentence usage, and more!

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What is the definition of TFW?

According to Pulsar Platform, the trending internet slang term TFW stands for “that feel when” or “that feeling when.” Usually, this phrase is used at the beginning of a sentence to caption a photo or meme. This is used at the beginning of a sentence to make a joke or humorous statement that is relatable. People often use the phrase TFW on social media like Twitter or TikTok, as well as on message boards or in text messages. These memes are often used to create bittersweet humor and to make fun of a time when something bad happened to someone. This self deprecating humor is very popular on social media. 

This phrase emerged around the year 2011 alongside the similar acronym MFW, which stands for “my face when.” MFW emerged on message board sites like 4chan around 2009. TFW has also had a couple of other specific memes offshoot from the initial meme structure. These include “TFW no GF” and “TFW too intelligent.”

According to Know Your Meme, “TFW no GF” means “that feeling when no girlfriend,” or “that feeling when you do not have a girlfriend.” This phrase emerged on the 4chan Japanese messageboards in 2010 and began to spread in 2011 when people started to pair the phrase with the memes image of the “That Feel Guy,” which had become a meme in itself. This meme is used to express loneliness and sadness about the lack of a relationship but in a humorous way.

Additionally, the meme “TFW too intelligent,” or “That feeling I get when I am too intelligent,” also stemmed from sites like 4chan, per Know Your Meme. This meme began to be used to mock people who were expressing feelings of superiority over high IQs or for subscribing to various beliefs. This emem began to be paired with edited images of other memes like Pepe the Frog who had huge heads and bulging veins. 

According to The Free Dictionary, the acronym TFW can also stand for a plethora of other definitions. However, the most common meaning is “that feel when” or “that feeling when.” While these other definitions are accurate, they are less common than the internet slang or meme meaning and should be used sparingly. If you plan on using one of these other definitions for TFW, you should ensure that the context is very clear with whomever you are testing with or chatting with on social media. OTherwise, the reader might be very confused!

  • Training for Warriors (athletics)
  • Thanks for Watching
  • Tuition Fee Waiver (education)
  • Task Force Whiskey
  • Travel for Work
  • Time for Wine
  • Task-Force Web
  • Tourism Federation of Wisconsin (Sun Prairie, WI)
  • The Force Within
  • Trendnet Firewire
  • Toronto Fashion Week (Toronto, Canada)
  • Thanks for Writing
  • Toxic Flood Water
  • Technische Fachhochschule Wildau (German: Wildau Technical College; Wildau, Germany)
  • Temporary Foreign Worker (various locations)
  • Takimora Fantasy Works (online roleplay)
  • The Forgotten Ways (Alan Hirsch book)
  • Tactical Fighter Wing
  • Truncated Floquet Wave

What are synonyms for the acronym TFW?

While you may not find the acronym TFW in a thesaurus, here are a couple of other acronyms that are used in a similar way to TFW. These are also used at the beginning of a sentence to create some self deprecating joke via a meme. They simply stand for slightly different things. One could use “I know that feel bro” in place of TFW, as well as MFW, which stands for “my face when” or MRW which stands for “my reaction when.” All of these abbreviations are used similarly to express bittersweet commiseration in a  humorous way. 

Is the acronym TFW casual or formal?

The acronym TFW is extremely casual and should never be used in formal or professional settings. Memes like TFW should be reserved for casual text messaging conversations and for harmless fun on social media, but should be avoided in business emails or other professional or formal settings. Using internet slang terms comes across as very unprofessional and would not be taken kindly in a formal or business setting.

How can the acronym TFW be used in a sentence?

The acronym TFW is often used when text messaging and is often accompanied by  a photo that expresses the person’s feeling or reaction. In this example, Hanna and Jade are talking about the math test that they just got back. 

Jade: How did Mr. Jefferson’s class go? Did you guys get your math tests back too?

Hanna: Unfortunately yes.

Jade: Why unfortunately? What did you get?

Hanna: TFW when you get the lowest grade in the class. 

Hanna sends a picture of a girl in a large hooded sweatshirt. She has wrapped the sweatshirt around her knees and pulled the strings so tight you cannot see her face.

Jade: Oh no!

Hanna: Oh yes. It was so embarrassing. 

Jade: I’m sure he’ll let you retake it. Remember, we all get one retake per semester!

Here, Hanna uses the acronym TFW accompanied by a picture to express how she felt about the math class. The image of a girl curled up in a hoodie hiding her face implies that Hanna feels ashamed about her grade.

Overall, the acronym TFW stands for “that feel when” or “what feeling when.” This is used in memes in a social media post and via text messaging, and is often accompanied by an image that expresses exactly how that person is feeling. These are often used to make self deprecating jokes after something bad has happened to someone.