In a sea of Internet slang, things can quickly get confusing. Today we are going to look at IYKYK to find out what IYKYK means and how to use it correctly.
Even if you’re pretty well versed in most internet slang, every once in a while you notice something that confuses you. It could be a newer slang word like YEET or, if you were me yesterday, the very confusing acronym, IYKYK which sounds a bit like an Icelandic word. But it’s not…
What does IYKYK mean?
IYKYK means If you know, you know. Simple, right? I couldn’t believe it when I finally found out what it meant. But knowing what something means and using it correctly are two very different things. And IYKYK is particularly cryptic in its use.
The slang term IYKYK has of course popped up online. 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 that some people will immediately understand what you are implying, while others will have no idea. So if you know, you know…
For example, let’s say there is a very good hamburger restaurant in your city. You can take a picture of your meal and post it on Instagram with IYKYK. This is a great example because people who live in the area, or have been to that specific burger place, will know EXACTLY what you mean, while other people who don’t don’t. will have no idea.
You can also use IYKYK to refer to an experience or something that happened. For example, if you went to a bachelor party and something awful/funny/weird/crazy happened, you can post a photo of said bachelor party and use the hashtag # IYKYK or #ifyky.
IYKYK works in this context because anyone who was on a 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, “I went to a party at Mike’s last night #IYKYK” — or something like that.
IYKYK is kind of like an “insider joke” or a way of referring to an inside joke without giving anything away. To understand a joke, you have to be in it. And to understand a post tagged with IYKYK, you either need to have been there, understand the context (like having a child, for example), or share similar tastes in something (it could be food, music, clothes) in order to unlock the meaning behind the post.
Where is IYKYK from?
As is the case 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 before then on forums, Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter.
The song If You Know You Know by Pusha T helped make IYKYK mainstream in 2018, which is probably why it’s used so often these days. However, the main driver behind the mass adoption of IYKYK 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 world events. Everyone knows them. But influencers often use IYKYK to market products and services to specific niches of their followers. In this sense, you can use IYKYK as a marketing tool or to talk to certain groups of people.
For example, if you bought a new pair of headphones. You can share a post with the IYKYK tag. This implies that people who recognize the brand and/or own a pair understand how good they are. This approach also works with cars, restaurants, clothing, and just about every other consumable product on the planet.
IYKYK on private publications
If you follow someone on Twitter or Instagram, for example, and they post something, a photo or a tweet, and they’re tagged with IYKYK, it will most definitely be of the inside joke variety, which means you had to be there to understand what they are talking about. Here are some common examples:
- I went to Dave and Claire’s wedding #IYKYK
- Weekend in Liverpool with the #IYKYK guys
- Season finale of The Expanse #IYKYK
- Listening to the new Mastodon #IYKYK
As you can see from the examples above, IYKYK works in many different scenarios, from TV shows to music and hanging out with your friends. The main thing with IYKYK is that you don’t give anything away – it’s designed to be cryptic. In this regard, IYKYK is one of the more interesting examples of Internet slang and/or acronyms.
Want to learn more about slang words and internet acronyms? Discover our Internet slang database – there are loads of guides like this in there.
Richard Goodwin has worked as a technical journalist for over 10 years. He is the publisher and owner of KnowYourMobile.