1460: SMFW

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wtfw it's like smho tbfh, imdb.
Title text: wtfw it's like smho tbfh, imdb.


Randall gives some examples of confusing acronyms that closely resemble more commonly-used acronyms. He depicts Cueball apparently puzzling over the meaning of one such acronym.

"SMFW", the title of the comic and an acronym used as the caption, is very close to a number of other common acronyms, including:

  • "MFW", meaning "my face when..." used in similar sentence constructions to this comic's caption, to indicate that the image represents one's face when the specified thing happens.
  • "SFW", meaning "safe/suitable for work", denoting that something does not have suggestive content.
  • "SMH", meaning "shaking my head" or "so much hate", used to indicate dismay.
  • "SMF", meaning "so much fun".
  • "NSFW", meaning "not safe for work", the opposite of "SFW".

The title text contains more examples of imaginary acronyms of a similar nature:

  • "WTFW" is a combination of "WTF" ("What the fuck") and "TFW" ("That feel when..." or "That face when...", used in a similar nature to "MFW"), and possibly "FTW" ("For The Win") and "FWIW" ("For What It's Worth").
  • "SMHO" is a combination of "SMH" ("shake my head") and "IMHO" ("In my humble/honest opinion...").
  • "TBFH" is a combination of "TBF" ("to be fair") and "TBH" ("to be honest").
  • "IMDB" is, of course, the Internet Movie Database, but also resembles "IMHO".

Below are possible examples of potential (already existing, albeit rare) representations for each acronym, according to the Urban Dictionary:

  • SMFW is listed as an acronym for "Smoke more fucking weed".
  • WTFW is listed as an acronym for "What the fuck, what?".
  • SMHO is listed as an acronym for "Shaking my head off".
  • TBFH is listed as an acronym for "To be fucking honest".

Knowing Randall, the sentences given in the comic proper and title text were probably made without an actual meaning in mind. Nevertheless, the sentence in the comic has a very plausible interpretation: "So Much Frustration When an acronym almost makes sense." Other plausible interpretations of the acronym could be "So Much Fun When" or "See My Face When". Even the absurdly cryptic title text has a plausible translation: "What The Fuck, World? (WTFW) it's like Some Moron's Horrible Opinion (SMHO) To Be Fucking Honest (TBFH), I'm Done, Bye. (IMDB)".


[Cueball is sitting at a desk, crouched over a laptop.]
[Caption below the panel:]
SMFW an acronym almost makes sense


The name of the comic xkcd is itself a false acronym – from the xkcd about page:

"It's not actually an acronym. It's just a word with no phonetic pronunciation -- a treasured and carefully-guarded point in the space of four-character strings."

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I'm pretty sure this is supposed a combination of SMH and MFW in particular, meaning that this would say "Shaking My Face When..." 21:24, 31 July 2019 (UTC)

Reading this is like listening to the video of that lady who imitates the sound patterns of different languages, but without actually saying any real words! --Elipongo (talk) 05:34, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

link? -- Brettpeirce (talk) 15:41, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybcvlxivscw 19:56, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
No. It's absolutely nothing like that. If this were reddit I'd downvote you. -- 19:18, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
Then you would be in violation of reddit's ostensible community standards, where downvoting is preferred for situations where a comment has a negative impact rather than simply something you disagree with. 02:42, 2 March 2016 (UTC)

It would sound more natural if it were "SMFW as an acronym almost makes sense". Is the fact that "as" was omitted from that sentence supposed to give us a hint as to what "SMFW" might mean? Nicksh (talk) 07:16, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, "as" is ommitted because its meaning is contained within the mystery acronym, so for example "W" may be "When". I don't think "hint" is the right word... I think it's more just like following the format of sentences that use such acronyms to ram home the joke. Substitute TFW and it seems clearer. 02:46, 2 March 2016 (UTC)
As "the Internet is for porn", in many contexts SFW, lit. Safe for Work, can be taken to mean sex-free content, while NSFW, Not Safe for Work, would mean sex-positive content, then SMFW might be interpreted to me SM For Work, where SM would be humorously interpreted as some graphically explicit sex-positive content, perhaps SadoMachoism, which outside of paperwork is generally classified NSFW. 10:31, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
And "wtfw it's like smho tbfh, imdb." might be a defensive reaction to those what would not find humour of SM For Work. "what the fooking wut? It's like stick my humble opinion, to be fooking honest, in my dead body. (or database)." 10:38, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
Additional evidence of SM For Work, would be the posture in the task chair with respect to the desk and laptop (hunched over, feet not resting on ground, etc) seems the opposite of ergonomic advice which might lead to muscle strain, pain and fatigue -- the type of unsexy, self-inflicted torments that workers do to themselves "for work" (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
>It would sound more natural
You're missing the whole point. It's not supposed to sound natural. It's supposed to look strange and confuse you. That's the joke. -- 19:20, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

I thought it was simply 'Save Me From Work' - being unhappy at work is common, and using the internet as a distraction from work is common as well. - So sending a quick message to a friend "SMFW" is a request for them to send you a link or other internet distraction, or otherwise help you come up with an excuse to not be productive. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I thought of So Much For Work as a possible meaning. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

SMFW: Single Mode Fiber Waveguide * (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I think "SMFW" is a mixture of SMF and MFW: "So Much Fun When". It fits the sentence. The only thing is that Cueball doesn't look like he's having fun.

Smoke more fucking weed could be a replacement for something like "Bloody hell" or "Shit the bed". 09:05, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

So why doesn't "xkcd" appear on the acronyms list? --Koveras (talk) 09:47, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Because xkcd isnt an acronym. 09:56, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

I would like to add STFW ("Search the fucking web", [1]) as an acronym that SMFW is close to (same except for the second letter)...but there might be enough examples? Aquaplanet (talk) 11:07, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

SMFW makes perfect sense. Shaking my face when (SMH+MFW) an acronym almost makes sense. -- Sederts (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Seconded, "Shaking my face when" seems to be the best decryption so far... 23:12, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

See My Face When an acronym almost makes sense... makes perfect sense. 13:26, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

"So Much Frustration When an acronym almost makes sense."

+1 -- Brettpeirce (talk) 15:44, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
I'd also like to add in my +1 on this -- 19:39, 15 December 2014 (UTC)
+1 Ursushoribilis (talk) 15:33, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

"What to feel when it's like some message has only to be f...ing hashtags, is mostly deep bafflement." Ackegard (talk) 14:35, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

None of these are acronyms. 14:55, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

So Much F*cking Want. So, uh. Yeah. 15:10, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Small Men Fear Women 15:27, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

So Many Fucking Ways an acronym almost makes sense. Makes sense to me. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Staring, Mildly Frustrated When...? Kirdneh (talk) 17:50, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

"SMHO" could also be related to "LMHO," or "Laughing My Head Off." So, "Shaking My Head Off"? Something that makes you shake your head so hard it might fall off? Shanek (talk) 16:12, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

SMFW is an initialism. 16:45, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

<pedantic>Initialisms are only acronyms when they can be pronounced </pendantic> Sideshowtanley (talk) 17:16, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

smif-whaa? (smfw) wha-ti-fuh? (wtf) zik-cid? (xkcd) Can be pronounced or intended to be pronounced? Two very different things. 01:47, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

I was thinking "So M*therf*cking what?" as the meaning for the acronym, but Randall is more arcane than that :) 17:49, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

"Social Media Forum Warrior" is what came to my mind. I may have been on the internets for too long. 19:22, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Could be an example of a stacked acronym with an acronym recursively nested in an acronym. Or it could be a portmanteau of two acronyms. Is there a term for a portmanteau of two acronyms? Portmonym? Acmanteau? --Gbleck (talk) 19:31, 15 December 2014 (UTC)gbleck

It's not meant to make sense. It's a play on acronyms not making sense. It is a single statement in a single sentence, but the play is on the fact that the acronym doesn't make sense. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Smacks My Face When an acronym almost makes sense. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Two things - 1) these are all abbreviations, not acronyms - no-one goes around saying "Smfw" - they'd say "S.M.F.W."; 2) WTFW is "whatever the fuck works" - used quite often on a couple of forums I've been on. Grutness (talk) 23:11, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

I think there are two different, valid definitions of acronyms. Personally the first "acronym" I think of as an example is ATM machine, which you're saying is an abbreviation. I guess some people draw the line if it uses the initials of words, and other draw the line at being pronounced. 12:45, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
Of course you're suffering from RAS Syndrome when you say "ATM Machine", anyway, whatever you call it. 13:17, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

Maybe it's So My Face When an ancryonom alost makes sense 18:53, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

TDEMSYR!!! 10:03, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

Maybe “SMFW” could mean “So Much Fun When” — wait, that makes too much sense. Jolbucley (talk) 02:28, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

I thought it meant "So Much For Work" Something I would mutter to myself when distracted by XKCD 04:54, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

Couldn't SMFW mean "Sorta My Face When"? 05:11, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

PCMCIA! (People cant memorize computer industry acronyms). SMFW... Somewhat Mediocre For Work? Specialy Mindbogling For Work? Super Mario Friday Workout? Something Might Fall When? Streets Must Freeze Wednesdays! Should Mum Fry Warderobe? Show Me Fried Wintercoat! Steve Must Find Wholesaler. (for fried wintercoat, indeed). So Many "Friction" Words! Should Maybe First... Whatever. Somewhat Memorable First Words? So, Maybe, Fire Works. Sh!t May Fly Wherever. (And I refuse to write down the more NSFW options) - 21:32, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

"(if one discounts IMDB, which is only there to make an already obnoxious sentence completely absurd)" I actually think it's who the message is addressed to, compare "WTF, NSA?". The message then expresses incredulous disappointment in something IMDB, or more likely the user base, did (like a 1-star review for Firefly). 11:42, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

You guys are all missing the obvious meaning: "So Many Feel(ing)s When an acronym almost makes sense." 01:46, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

I interpreted it as "Show Me Five Ways". 04:25, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

Some Mother Fucking Way (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Well, MFW can mean "motherfucking win", so my first thought was "such motherfucking win". 19:14, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

Acronym <> Initialism. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

SMFW could also be "So Much Fucking Work". 15:16, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

See my face when... is ironic considering Cueball's face consists of a blank circle. Cueball's slumped posture may imply he is lamenting the lack of facial expression.JBinSV (talk) 07:00, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

SMHO is similar to SWMBO, "She Who Must Be Obeyed"; a passive aggressive reference to one's wife. Also why has no one noted that the title of the comic itself is a false acronym? XKCD stands for nothing. Randall is so meta even this comic… Saspic45 (talk) 14:22, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

...which comes from "She who shall be obeyed" - which is the name that "Rumpole of the Bailey" uses to describe his wife. 03:11, 18 February 2021 (UTC)

SMFW = so much fun when. "So much fun when an acronym almost makes sense." 14:13, 26 January 2016 (UTC)

I went ahead and added the bit about xkcd not standing for anything.Saspic45 (talk) 22:50, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

Might as well try. “Shaking my face when” “That Guy from the Netherlands” (talk) 14:18, 21 May 2019 (UTC)

Shaking my face when an acronym almost makes sense. What the f**k when it's like, shaking my head over (this) to be f**king honest. IMDb. 06:01, 31 July 2019 (UTC) Cye

Am I the only one who linked this with "personal ad"-type acronyms like "SWF"="single white female" and similar? ---

The "OMG" in my username stands for Oriental Music Group. (talk) 10:09, 28 March 2023 (UTC)