About This Word

facepalm

or face-palm or face palm

[feys-pahm]

What does facepalm mean?

Facepalm refers to the physical gesture of putting one's hand up against the face, used mainly to express feelings of stupidity and frustration about oneself or others.

Related words:

  • D'oh!
  • fail
  • SMH
  • ugh

See how it's used

facepalm

JBaz

Where does facepalm come from?

While the gesture is much older, the term facepalm is recorded as early as 1996. In 2001, a forum user notably posted "<facepalm>doh!<facepalm>" in mock internet markup language.

Urban Dictionary entered facepalm in 2004, indicating the slang's spread, but the term really took off in 2008 when it was incorporated into a meme based on an image still of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) facepalming in the 1990s Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The meme, and many others like it, were used online in response to content people found unbelievably idiotic or ignorant.

Unicode 9.0 approved the person facepalming emoji 🤦 in 2016 with subsequent skin-tone and gender modifications, letting us express our disappointment with the mere touch of a button.

Who uses facepalm?

Facepalming, as a gesture and term, is used for the many situations in life—directed at ourselves or others—that make us want to hide our heads in our hands rather than face the world at that moment.

It variously conveys embarrassment, frustration, stupidity, or exasperation, often with an undertone of "I can't believe I'm so stupid!" or a kind of sighing resignation and disbelief.

Facepalm can be a noun, modifier, or verb.

Online, people use the hashtag "#facepalm" to comment on something ridiculous or style it *facepalm* to dramatize someone doing a facepalm. People also say facepalm in actual speech ... instead of doing the action.

A double facepalm or triple facepalm intensify the feelings of stupidity or frustration.

For example

Me: I think I might actually like the new Star Wars movie...because my expectations will be...So...Lo... Devin: *facepalm*

@gamedevftw, May, 2018

Mr. Schuester responds to Mr. Martinez and Santana’s performance by dressing as a matador and launching into a flamenco-inspired version of “A Little Less Conversation.” It’s too embarrassing to post here, so go here if you want to facepalm en espanol.

Becky Bain, Idolator, February, 2012

Can you imagine what moviegoers who haven't read the books must think about that? Because then we see a semi-naked Harry slide into a bathtub the size of a small swimming pool, while a mermaid peeks at him from the stained glass window. Ewww—the kid is supposed to be fourteen years old. If that isn't enough reason for viewers to fast-forward, or at least do a facepalm, in floats Moaning Myrtle, the most annoying ghost in the world. From her yucking and overdone ghost giggling to the fact that she is leering at Harry through the bubbles it's a smorgasbord of assorted cheese.

Emerson Spartz & Ben Schoen, Mugglenet.com's Harry Potter Should Have Died, 2009

Sign up for our Newsletter!
Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.