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

Key Takeaways

  • IYKYK Defined: “IYKYK” stands for “If You Know, You Know”. It is an acronym used to imply a shared understanding of a situation or reference without directly explaining it. The phrase communicates a secret knowledge that is exclusive to those in the know.
  • IYKYK’s Usage:
    • It is often used to denote shared experiences, inside jokes, or memories without giving away the entire context.
    • It can also serve as an effective tool for stimulating curiosity and enhancing social engagement online.
    • The hashtag encourages community bonds by signaling shared experiences.
  • IYKYK in Pop Culture:
    • The phrase has made its mark on various aspects of popular culture.
    • Pusha T’s 2018 song “If You Know You Know” is a notable reference.
    • It’s used in memes, TV shows, movies, fashion, sports, food, and gaming to hint at knowledge or experiences exclusive to certain groups.
  • Origin:
    • While its exact origins are uncertain, Urban Dictionary first defined IYKYK in 2016. It gained significant traction with Pusha T’s song in 2018 and became even more widespread on TikTok in 2020.
    • The acronym IYKYK, like many slang phrases, emerged as a convenient texting shorthand primarily among the 16-25 age group.

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 MeanPin
IYKYK stands for If You Know, You Know. Simple, right?

Imagine you’ve discovered an extraordinary burger joint tucked away in your local neighborhood. You decide to indulge in a feast, and what you taste is nothing short of a culinary revelation. To share this gastronomic delight with the world, you snap a photo of your delectable meal and take to Instagram.

In your caption, you casually drop the acronym IYKYK – short for “If You Know, You Know.” This cryptic yet intriguing hashtag serves as a secret handshake, a shared understanding among those who’ve had the pleasure of discovering this hidden gem of a restaurant.

Locals or those familiar with this specific burger place instantly connect with your post. But for the uninitiated, the allure of the unknown is all they have.

The IYKYK tag is not limited to food experiences, it also transcends to a wide array of life’s moments. Consider a scenario where you’ve just returned from a stag party filled with unforgettable, laughable, and bizarre antics.

Instead of sharing the detailed narrative of the shenanigans, you post a candid snapshot from the event with the mysterious hashtag #IYKYK or #ifyky. To those who shared the experience, the picture and accompanying hashtag immediately invoke the whirlwind of memories. But to others, it simply presents a puzzle waiting to be deciphered.

Integrating IYKYK is a clever tactic to stimulate curiosity and encourage social engagement. Whether it’s about cherished memories, insider jokes, trending pop culture, or niche community knowledge, #IYKYK is a powerful tool that communicates shared experiences and strengthens community bonds.

If utilized wisely, it can potentially boost your online presence and engagement, making it a smart social media strategy.

In the realm of internet slang, hashtags, and social media, the ability to “read between the lines” is a valued skill. It’s about understanding the context, the unspoken emotions, and the shared experiences that form the backbone of these coded messages.

So the next time you spot an #IYKYK post, remember – it’s an invitation to an exclusive club. If you understand the reference, congratulations! If not, perhaps it’s a mystery meant to pique your curiosity. Either way, in the ever-evolving language of the internet, #IYKYK is here to stay.

IYKYK Meaning and Different Contexts

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.

The phrase “If You Know, You Know” (IYKYK) has permeated pop culture and social media, gaining popularity through various channels and contexts. Here are a few examples of cultural references to IYKYK:

  1. Music: The phrase was notably used in the world of music. One of the most prominent examples is the song “If You Know You Know” by rapper Pusha T, from his 2018 album Daytona. The lyrics present a coded message about his past experiences, resonating with listeners who have lived through similar circumstances.
  2. Internet Memes: IYKYK has become a popular tagline for internet memes, typically used to describe scenarios or jokes that only make sense to those who share a particular cultural context or experience. These might refer to classic films, specific video games, historical events, or even shared experiences during the global pandemic.
  3. TV Shows & Movies: Fans of particular TV series or films often use IYKYK to reference specific scenes, plot twists, or inside jokes. For instance, “Friends” enthusiasts might use IYKYK to hint at the iconic line, “We were on a break!” Similarly, Harry Potter fans might post an image of a sock with the caption #IYKYK, referring to Dobby’s liberation.
  4. Fashion: The fashion industry has also embraced IYKYK. It’s often used to reference vintage or iconic pieces, trends that have cycled back into style, or a designer’s signature touch on a piece of clothing or accessory.
  5. Sports: Sports enthusiasts often use IYKYK in reference to historic games, infamous plays, or iconic athletes. It’s a way to share their passion and connect with fellow fans.
  6. Food and Drink: Foodies often use IYKYK to share their culinary discoveries. It could be a secret menu item at a popular restaurant or a special technique in home cooking that enhances the dish in some way.
  7. Gaming: In the gaming community, IYKYK could refer to insider easter eggs, specific gaming strategies, or legendary gaming narratives. For instance, posting an image of a difficult level in a game with the caption IYKYK immediately connects those who’ve struggled with the same challenge.

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.


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.


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:

  • 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.