In a sea of internet slang, things can get confusing quickly. Today we’re going to be looking at the IYKYK to find out what IYKYK means and how you use it correctly
Even if you’re fairly au fait with most internet slang, every now and then you spot something that perplexes you. It could be a newer slang word like YEET or, if you were me yesterday, the highly confusing acronym, IYKYK which looks kind of like an Icelandic word. But it ain’t…
What Does IYKYK Mean?
IYKYK stands for If You Know, You Know. Simple, right? I couldn’t believe it when I eventually found out what it stood for. But knowing what something means and actually using it correctly are two very different things. And IYKYK is especially cryptic in its usage.
The slang term IYKYK came into being online, of course. Like memes, IYKYK has a special niche in online forums and places like Reddit. The idea with IYKYK is that you use it when you know certain people will understand what you’re implying right away, while others will have no idea. Hence, If You Know, You Know…
For instance, say there’s a wicked-good burger joint in your town. You could take a picture of your meal and post it to Instagram with IYKYK. This is a great example because people that live in the area, or have been to that specific burger place, will know EXACTLY what you mean, while other people that haven’t will have no idea.
You can also use IYKYK to refer to an experience or something that happened. For instance, if you went on a stag do and something awful/funny/weird/crazy happened, you could post a picture from said stag do and use the hashtag #IYKYK or #ifyky.
IYKYK works in this context because everyone that was on the trip will understand exactly what the post is referring to, even if most of your other friends and followers have no idea. Same if you went to a party and something crazy happened. You could tweet: “went to a party at Mike’s last night #IYKYK” – or something.
IYKYK is a bit like an “inside joke” or a way of referencing an inside joke without giving anything away. To understand an inside joke, you have to be in on it. And to understand a post tagged with IYKYK, you either have to have been there, understand the context (like having a kid, for example), or share similar tastes in something (it could be food, music, clothes) in order to unlock the meaning behind the post.
Where Did IYKYK Come From?
As is the way with most things, no one really knows where IYKYK came from and when it was first used. Urban Dictionary first defined the acronym in 2016. But there are examples of IYKYK being used prior to that date on forums, Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter.
The song If You Know You Know by Pusha T helped to make IYKYK mainstream in 2018 which is probably why it is used so often nowadays. The main driving force of the adoption of IYKYK en masse, however, was TokTok. In 2020, thousands of TikTok videos were posted with the tag IYKYK. These posts were designed for specific audiences and niche interests. Hence the use of IYKYK.
IYKYK On Viral Posts
Most things that go viral on social media are global events. Everybody knows about them. But influencers often use IYKYK to market products and services to specific niches of their following. In this sense, you can use IYKYK as a marketing tool or to speak to certain groups of people.
For instance, if you bought a new pair of headphones. You can share a post with the tag IYKYK. This implies that people who recognize the brand and/or own a pair understand just how good they are. This approach also works with cars, places to eat, clothes, and pretty much every other consumable product on the planet.
IYKYK on Private Posts
If you’re following someone on Twitter or Instagram, for instance, and they post something, a picture or a tweet, and it is tagged with IYKYK, it will most certainly be of the inside joke variety, meaning you had to be there to understand what they’re talking about. Here are some common examples:
- Went to Dave & Claire’s wedding #IYKYK
- Weekend in Liverpool with the lads #IYKYK
- Season Finale of The Expanse #IYKYK
- Listening to new Mastodon #IYKYK
As you can see from the above examples, IYKYK works in loads of different scenarios from TV shows to music and outings with your friends. The main thing with IYKYK is that you don’t give anything away – it is designed to be cryptic. In this respect, IYKYK is one of the more interesting examples of internet slang and/or acronyms.
Want to learn more about internet slang words and acronyms? Check out our Internet Slang Database – it’s got loads of guides like this in there.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.