Where does gtfo come from?
According to slang lexicographer Jonathon Green, the internet acronym gtfo, which has the force of saying “get the fuck out (of here),” emerged in the 1990s. Gtfo took off in the early 2000s: Urban Dictionary, for instance, first included it in 2002, while it debuted on Twitter in the platform’s earliest days, first tweeted in December 2006. It peaked in interest on Google Trends in late 2011 and early 2012.
Outside of its wide use in personal digital communication, gtfo has appeared throughout pop culture. Notably, there is a gtfo character who appears in online rage comics. This character is an angry-looking stick figure who is seen dismissively pointing away, as if showing someone the door. The rage comics gtfo character tends to appear when another character has done something he deems unacceptable, resulting in them ordering the other character to, bluntly, gtfo. The gtfo character usually appears at the end of a comic, as the punchline. For example, one rage comic depicts a mother/son interaction over the years, and when the son says that he wants to live with her forever, the mother responds with gtfo.
The phrase tits or GTFO—sometimes shortened to togtfo—is Rule 31 of the so-called rules of the internet, a collection of unofficial guidelines and in-jokes that emerged on message boards in the 2000s. Tits or GTFO, as well as Rule 30 (“There are no girls on the internet”) reflects the sexism in some online communities. It was initially used on messages boards, frequently ones dedicated to video gaming, to demand women bare their breasts to prove they weren’t men masquerading as women. The misogyny in these communities, in part, inspired Shannon Sun-Higginson to direct a film in 2015 titled GTFO, an examination of the prevalence of sexism and sexual harassment against women in the video game world. GTFO premiered at the South by Southwest film festival to favorable reviews.
Who uses gtfo?
GTFO is widely used in digital communication (e.g., tweets, text messages) to express dismissal. Many users incorporate the term beyond its written origins into their speech.
Gtfo has many functions. It can be a serious and insulting command on web forums and on social media, where one user is ordering another to leave a comment thread, message board, or so on, or it can simply be a way of dismissing a person’s claims, opinions, or feelings.
Gtfo can also signal surprise or astonishment, similar to the way that character of Elaine Benes in Seinfeld would exclaim “Get out!” accompanied by a dramatic push. For example, if someone tells you they just met a celebrity, you might respond with a gtfo. However, on social media, the online gtfo is often used in a literal sense, telling someone to go away, or perhaps expressing that they themselves want to go away—out of a situation, on vacation, or so on.
Gtfo is also positively used of travel. A website, GTFO Flights, has playfully taken advantage of the slang. The site is an airfare aggregator that monitors cheap flight deals for potential travelers, “because everyone deserves a good trip,” as it says—because everyone sometimes literally wants to get the fuck out (of town).
As a meme, gtfo is often accompanied by pictures of famous people, fictional characters, or funny animals usually with serious, angry, or annoyed expressions. These images often depict the person pointing away, similar to the character from the gtfo rage comics. Figures depicted in these memes have included everyone and everything from Barack Obama to giraffes to Darth Vader.
There are countless colorful extensions to gtfo. For instance, gtfoomw stands for get the fuck out of my way while gtfohwtbs is get the fuck out of here with that bullshit.
“if you just sit back and watch while someone is struggling or getting bullied then gtfo”
Sully @sarasully678 Twitter (April 10, 2017)
“If you’re ready to GTFO, then get selfish. Think of your own self-development and don’t disregard your gut feeling. It’s not always easy to trust your intuition, but it’s there for a reason.”
Chelle Morgan, “5 Signs You’re Stuck In Relationship Purgatory (And How to GTFO),” Thought Catalog (February 27, 2015)
“And some people are more prone to these cooking fails than others. If you think you’re a crappy cook, just look at these 15 people who need to GTFO of the kitchen. You’ll be feeling like Gordon Ramsay before you know it.”
Michelle Sanders, “15 People Who Need To GTFO Of The Kitchen,” TheThings (February 13, 2017)