Where does BTFO come from?
BTFO is short for “blown the fuck out.” In gaming, its meaning is similar to “pwned” or “rekt.” If an individual or a team is BTFO, it means that they have been spectacularly defeated. A BTFO can also refer to someone losing a debate, particularly an online one.
The phrase is a more vulgar extension of “blowout,” a sports term for an easy, one-sided victory, similar to a “landslide” in elections. For example, if one team scores 100 points and another team scores one point, it could be said the first team won by a blowout.
In the late 2000s and early 2010s, the acronym BTFO was standing for a variety of expressions. A 2003 Urban Dictionary entry defines BTFO as “back the fuck off,” which remains a common variant of BTFO. This use of BTFO spread on Twitter between 2008 and 2009. “Black the fuck out,” describing the results of excessive drinking, is another common meaning of BTFO featured on Urban Dictionary. The earliest definition of BTFO for “blown the fuck out” appears on the site in 2013, which corresponds to when BTFO began spreading online and narrowing to its “blown the fuck out” sense.
On January 28, 2014, a user named “spee outlaw” posted a video on YouTube titled Janitor on /sp/ gets BTFO, depicting a rant wherein a man criticizes a “janitor on the internet” who he says will “never move out of his mother’s basement.” In this instance, it would be said that the janitor was BTFO. Later that year, UgandaPizzaPolice posted a video called EARTH GETS BTFO, depicting a simple science experiment that results in a massive explosion devastating the planet.
However, by the end of 2014, the term BTFO was co-opted by Gamergate, which targeted programmer Brianna Wu, who spoke out against misogyny associated with the movement and faced sexual harassment, rape threats, and death threats as a result. Her opponents would refer to her being BTFO by various takedowns online. Still later, in the lead-up to the 2016 US Presidential election, BTFO became a term used primarily by Donald Trump’s white supremacist “alt-right” followers. For instance, when candidate Ted Cruz was delivering a speech and Trump’s campaign plane landed in the background, Ted Cruz was said to be BTFO by this group.
Since the 2016 election, BTFO has become widely used by the alt-right online when they feel an opponent to their viewpoint gets “owned.” They might refer to leftist demonstrators getting BTFO if a protest gets broken up, or a critic of the Trump administration getting BTFO if evidence surfaces that counters their argument. In April 2017, for example, a picture made the rounds online suggesting far fewer New England Patriots football players visited the Trump White House in honor of their Super Bowl Victory than did in 2015 for President Obama. It turned out that many of the 2017 players were in attendance but not in the picture. Trump supporters responded by saying, among other things, “fake news BTFO.”
Who uses BTFO?
As noted, BTFO doesn’t just stand for “blown the fuck out,” though this meaning has proven particularly prevalent as of 2016–17.
While BTFO has become a common expression of the white supremacist alt-right community to boast takedowns of their opponents online, the acronym still enjoys wide use in sports contexts, and is also used by opponents to the alt-right. Political users frequently use or follow the name of an opponent with BTFO: CNN BTFO, Democrats BTFO, Republicans BTFO, Drumpf BTFO. Be mindful that people associated with the alt-right target BTFO at particular groups, for example, Muslims BTFO, LGBTQ BTFO.
One can also refer to a BTFO, an instance of being BTFO, and refer to someone getting BTFO’d.
“LOL you got BTFO'd so bad you're literally just jamming your fingers in your ears and repeating the same weak burns over and over.”
bc1d Patrick (September 7, 2016)
“I wonder if Trump got to fire the missiles himself. Like a real life video game. Assad BTFO. #FireKushner”
@troll_goy Twitter (April 7, 2017)
“He also appeared to disagree with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to the attack, writing: ‘Trudeau BTFO?!’”
“Alt-right leader Richard Spencer prompts anger with tweet asking why there are mosques in ‘one of North America’s most beautiful places’ after Quebec City attack on worshippers,” Breaking News Time (January 31, 2017)