Where does ctfu come from?
Ctfu emerged in the 2000s as internet and text-messaging slang to convey extreme amusement. Urban Dictionary first entered it in 2005 while it debuted on Twitter in 2008. According to a 2014 linguistic study, ctfu was most active in Cleveland, Ohio in 2009 before spreading, especially, to Mid-Atlantic states.
While its form resembles another initialism, stfu, or “shut the fuck up,” ctfu’s sense echoes the likes of lmao (“laughing my ass off”), rofl (“rolling on the floor laughing”), and the face with tears of joy emoji. As with many other items of digital slang, ctfu isn’t always meant literally, as it can communicate a light, humorous, or appreciative tone in a message.
While less common, the c in ctfu does represent other words, and thus sentiments, including the flippant reprimand of cheer the fuck up. Other variations are more idiosyncratic, like cowboy the fuck up (“‘man up”) or carb the fuck up (used to motivate vigorous exercise).
Who uses ctfu?
Used informally, ctfu is a playful way for its users to show they find something or someone very funny or ridiculous in a variety of digital contexts. While the abbreviation lessens its force, some people may find ctfu’s f, fuck, offensive.
“Dying laughing @ hubby's ocd tendencies. i have just been BANNED from from matching socks!!! LMAO. I could see his skin crawl CTFU”
Patrice @PatriceJ715 Twitter (July 28, 2008)
“She cracks jokes in text to the guy about 'the bitch thinks I can't be trusted now. CTFU! She don't even kno! Stoopid mf!'”
Mastered_struggling Reddit (January 1, 2014)
“This made me CTFU so loudly that my roommates upstairs scolded me by stomping on the floor over my head.”
rilo-neko-smith, The Girl Who Blocked Her Own Shot (January 7, 2016)