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

This article will provide all the relevant information you need on the acronym TIFU, including its definition, common usage, level of formality, conversation examples, and more!

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What does the acronym TIFU stand for?

According to 7 E S L and Cyber Definitions, TIFU is an internet slang term that stands for “Today I F***ed Up.” The phrase is used to admit when someone did something wrong, or did something embarrassing.

This abbreviation is commonly used in SMS texting, as well as on social media sites like Reddit. There is even an entire subreddit devoted to people sharing their TIFU stories. Sometimes, one might caption a photo or meme with a simple “TIFU.” The photo will show their mistake, like spilling paint all over the carpet, or letting a toddler play with permanent markers. 

Is TIFU casual or formal?

TIFU is an extremely casual phrase and should never be used in formal settings. This slang term contains vulgarity and should never be used in business negotiations, formal emails, letters, or other professional circumstances. Below is an example of a situation in which using TIFU would be extremely inappropriate, followed by a revised version.

In this example, Ben accidentally double-booked his boss Anita. He has to send her an email letting her know.

BAD:

Hey Anita,

Well… TIFU. I scheduled the client call at the same time you’re scheduled 2 give the presentation. I’m rly sorry. I misread one as 2:30 instead of 12:30 and thought they didn’t conflict but they do. I’ll fix it I’m so sry.

-Ben

GOOD:

Hi Anita,

I apologize for the late email but I wanted to let you know as soon as possible that I made a mistake on tomorrow’s schedule. I read the times too quickly and accidentally scheduled both the client call and the presentation at 12:30pm tomorrow. I am working on shifting the client call to the afternoon right now and will let you know as soon as possible when it is confirmed. My mistake and apologies.

Best,

Ben

While Ben is in a rush to send the email and make his boss aware of the mistake as soon as possible, he should still maintain professionalism and refrain from using internet slang and informal abbreviations. This shows respect toward his boss and the seriousness of the situation.

What are other acronyms people use on Reddit?

Reddit and other social media sites are rife with abbreviations that may be difficult to decipher. Below is a list of common acronyms from Adioma one might see on Reddit alongside their meanings.

  • AFAIK – As Far As I Know
  • AMA – Ask Me Anything
  • CMV – Change My View
  • DM;HS – Doesn’t Matter; Had Sex
  • ELI5 – Explain Like I’m Five (Years Old)
  • FTFY – Fixed That For You
  • IANAD – I Am Not A Doctor
  • IANAL – I Am Not A Lawyer
  • IM(H)O – In My (Humble) Opinion
  • ITT – In This Thread
  • NSFW – Not Safe For Work
  • NSFL – Not Safe For Life
  • TIL – Today I Learned
  • TL;DR – Too Long; Didn’t Read
  • YSK – You Should Know
  • YMMV – Your Mileage May Vary
  • DAE – Does Anyone Else
  • IIRC – If I Recall Correctly
  • MRW – My Reaction When
  • MFW – My Face When
  • PSA – Public Service Announcement
  • OP – Original Poster

How can TIFU be used in a sentence?

TIFU is commonly used between friends while texting, or on different social media sites. This can either be used to caption a photo of a mistake someone has made, or to preface or end a story about someone’s mistake.

In this first example, TIFU is used to preface a story. Penelope texts JJ about her day at work.

Penelope: Well… TIFU.

JJ: What happened?

Penelope: First I spill coffee all over myself, then I forget to lock the door in the bathroom and my new boss walks in on me buck naked trying to get the coffee out of my clothes. Then later, I spill coffee all over her! I should not be allowed around liquids.

JJ: OMG, you really do have a coffee curse.

Here, Penelope uses TIFU to hint to JJ that she has a story about how she messed up that day. From there, she tells JJ the story. In the next example, the phrase TIFU is used to preface a photo. Spencer texts his roommate Emily.

Spencer: Emily… TIFU.

Emily:… What happened?

Spencer: Are you sure you want to know?

Emily: Yes. Yes I am

Spencer sends a picture of two smashed cars.

Emily: Is that my car?! Is that your car?! Did you destroy my car?!

Spencer: Unfortunately yes, yes, and yes.

Here, Spencer uses TIFU to preface the photo of the two totaled cars that Spencer hit. Emily is immediately suspicious of his tone and use of TIFU. TIFU is perfectly acceptable to use between friends and casual family members.

What are synonyms for TIFU?

Thesaurus lists a plethora of synonyms for TIFU that contain less vulgarity. These might be more appropriate for family or professional settings to let people know they messed something up.

  • I messed up
  • I screwed up
  • I botched it
  • I bungled it
  • I flubbed it
  • I blew it
  • I fouled up
  • I goofed
  • I goofed up
  • I mucked it up
  • I muffed it up
  • I mismanaged it
  • I mishandled it

Overall, TIFU stands for “Today I F***ed Up.” This texting abbreviation is popular on social media sites like Reddit and is commonly used in memes. The popular term is used to admit when one has made a mistake or done something wrong. There is even an entire subreddit devoted to people sharing their TIFU stories.

Sources:

  1. https://7esl.com/tifu/
  2. https://www.cyberdefinitions.com/definitions/TIFU.html#:~:text=The%20acronym%20TIFU%20is%20used,i.e.%2C%20made%20a%20mistake).
  3. https://www.reddit.com/r/tifu/
  4. https://blog.adioma.com/internet-acronyms-intro-list-infographic/
  5. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/screw%20up