What Does WDYM Mean? A Quick Definition & Guide

By Richard Goodwin •  Updated: 03/15/22 •  4 min read

Seen the acronym WDYM online? Wondering what in the hell it means? Well, wonder no more – here’s what WDYM means


It seems like a new slang term or acronym appears online every day. If you have teenage kids, you’ll be exposed to new slang terms and acronyms on a daily basis – do you know what XOXO means? One of the more popular but largely misunderstood acronyms doing the round right now, however, is WDYM.

WDYM Meaning

What does WDYM mean? It’s actually really simple: WDYM means What Do You Mean. Simple, right? And people use WDYM in text messages and in replies to posts online. It is used to express confusion about what someone is saying – or, as a request, for more clarity in a statement.

What Does WDYM Mean
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For instance, a friend or colleague could ask you if you’re ready and prepared for the work seminar on Tuesday. If you weren’t aware there was a work seminar next Tuesday, you could reply with WDYM!? This implies that you A) did not know there was a work seminar, and B) are obviously completely unprepared for it.

Justin Bieber even wrote a song called What Do You Mean, and that song is about a girlfriend that isn’t making sense to him. WDYM, therefore, is very much part of the zeitgeist, just as much as it was back in the day of SMS messaging and MSN Messenger.

Different Uses of WDYM

You can use WDYM to express confusion about something, say, a work event that you didn’t know was happening or, as it is often used online, as a reply to someone that posts something either totally incoherent or completely bonkers like your auntie sharing memes about 5G and COVID vaccines on Facebook or your cousin that’s into flat earth theory.

This makes WDYM a dual-or-even-triple use acronym. You can use it to ask for more clarity about something that someone said; to poke fun at a ridiculous and blatantly false statement; or, finally, to communicate that you have no idea about something happening that you probably should – like an important work even you’ve forgotten all about.

The History of WDYM

Like most internet-based slang terms and acronyms, there is no clear genesis for WDYM. It just kind of happened, following the rise of SMS text messages and then made its way online inside social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, as well as places like Reddit and even Snapchat and other IM apps like WhatsApp.

At some point, somebody decided to shorten What Do You Mean down to WDYM. Who that person was will remain a mystery forevermore, but it likely started in the 1990s as mobile phones and T9 keyboards became popular. Typing on old T9 keyboards was a chore, so people started using acronyms like LOL and WDYM to make life easier.

As more and more people got connected to the internet and started using IM chats like AOL Messenger and MSN Messenger, these SMS-derived acronyms made their way online. This is why acronyms like LOL and IIRC and WDYM were so popular at the time and remain so today. They’re ingrained in our collective unconsciousness; people, almost instinctively in some cases, just know what they mean.

How To Use WDYM

Using WDYM is pretty simple. If someone asks you a question and you do not understand the meaning, you can simply reply with WDYM? If they know their internet slang, they’ll understand what YOU mean and send you back a more detailed reply.

Another example would be if someone texts you something a little vague or off-putting. Rather than starting a shouting match, you could reply with WDYM by that? By asking them to explain their position or statement more clearly, you might just avoid an argument or altercation.

And lastly, you can use WDYM to get more information about confusing statements made by people. For instance, say you have an auntie that is always posting crazy stuff on Facebook, you could respond to a post by saying, “this doesn’t make sense, WDYM?”

Using WDYM is fairly simple, as you can see. But it is a rather nuanced acronym that works in a range of settings and contexts. As with all acronyms, however, the recipient NEEDS to be aware of what it means in order to understand what you’re saying. If they don’t, you’re stuck inside an irony loop that’ll require you to explain the ins and outs of using the phrase WDYM correctly.

Or, you could just send them this article.

What Does WDYM 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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