What Does IYKYK Mean? Definition + How To Use It

By Richard Goodwin •  Updated: 04/06/22 •  7 min read

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 XOXO, 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…

What Does IYKYK Mean
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IYKYK stands for If You Know, You Know. Simple, right?

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 the said stag do and use the hashtag #IYKYK or #ifyky.

IYKYK

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
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The slang term IYKYK is also heavily used in text messages and IM chats. The slang phrase is often used by teenagers and those in and around the 16-25. The popularity of the phrase, generally speaking, is born from the fact that it saves time writing out IF YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW – hence why, like LOL and IIRC, it is used in text messaging.

As people become more technologically savvy, new words and slang terms find a way into popular usage. With Twitter, for instance, you have things like DM which mean, “send me a DM” – where DM means Direct Message. Or, the phrase “selfie” which, of course, means to take a picture of yourself with your front-facing camera on your phone (although the first-ever selfie was taken almost 100 years ago).

With phones – or modern platforms like Twitter – phrases like “DM” and “selfie” simply wouldn’t exist. For this reason, oftentimes, slang terms and abbreviations are extensions of our increasingly connected and technological world. Their popularity and usage are a direct result of the nature of the world we live in, so do not expect them to go anywhere anytime soon.

What is more bizarre, however, is the fact that these internal slang terms are now making their way into actual spoken English.

As internet slang has become more widespread, it has seeped into everyday spoken English IRL. For example, some people will use the acronym IRL in speech, just as they might say other slang that originated on the internet like BAE (before anyone else), YOLO (you only live once) and DM (direct message). Beyond abbreviations, terms like “dumpster fire,” “personally attacked,” “cringey,” “selfie,” and many more originated online. All of these words or their origins can be traced back to before the internet, but the internet made their development and widespread use possible.

GRAMMER

The origin of slang words, and the actual word “slang” is actually rather interesting, as noted by Wonderopolis:

Some experts define them as “deliberate alternative vocabulary that sends social signals.” Merriam-Webster says slang is “very informal nonstandard vocabulary.” Slang words are more than just words with new or different meanings. They say something about the attitudes of the people, groups, and subcultures that use them.

The word “slang” has an interesting origin. It began as a dialectal word in northern England that was used to refer to territory or turf. Over time, it came to refer to the people who would advertise and sell goods in certain locations. Eventually, slang became the term used to describe the colorful, informal speech these salespeople used.

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:

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.

What Does IYKYK Mean
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Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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