Where does savage AF come from?
Savage AF brings together two slang terms. The first is savage, which has meant "brutal" or "aggressive" since the 1500s. Since at least the 1990s, savage has also been slang for "excellent" (à la fierce or wicked). It has especially come to describe a remark as hilariously but ruthlessly on point.
The second is AF, often lowercased as af and standing for as fuck. As fuck is an intensifying phrase used since the late 1970s. It's been abbreviated, and mildly censored, as AF in text messages and on social media since the late 2000s.
Together, savage AF have been doubling down on the intensity since at least 2009, when savage AF debuts on Twitter. Early uses of savage AF describe something as extremely good, a use that continued into the 2010s.
Last nite was savage af! On everythinnggg!!
— Black Cherry (@EatVitaminC) April 10, 2010
— iFollowYouNSHIT (@MrSavageAF) August 26, 2010
In the mid-2010s, though, savage AF particularly spread as a way to characterize observations, jokes, insults, and comebacks, the kind that make you put a fist to your mouth ... "Oh, no he didn't!"
In this way, savage AF is a response to a clapback or mic drop—that sizzling species of burns that inspires true awe. The slang initially sized up genuine disses, such as a rap battle barb or a Taylor Swift snipe, but the internet quickly appropriated it for more light-hearted humor and commentary.
LOL Canadians are SAVAGE AF pic.twitter.com/MGSUgh8I55
— Jonsandman (@JonsandmanTv) May 25, 2018
When someone is savage AF, they're basically speaking their mind with a badass lack of regard for how it looks or the fallout—like Chrissy Teigen trolling Donald Trump on Twitter.
what time should we call your Uber?
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) February 4, 2017
Who uses savage AF?
Online, savage AF widely characterizes someone who is being brutally honest ...
I told my mom that I’m going to do hw all day and she’s like “fine but you need to go workout first” homegirl is savage af.
— steph ✨ (@_myprettyeyes) June 13, 2018
... or someone who won't put up with anyone's nonsense.
My aunt savage af. Her dude was bein real rude so she locked all the doors and she’s havin the baby tomorrow morning. She don’t take no shit
— AleXi$ WiLLZ (@lexwilliams22) June 12, 2018
This tell-it-like-it-is, truth-to-power savage AF-ery is generally seen as a positive quality, that a person is being real, even if it stings.
I’ll take a public poll: should MB’s video tonight be A.ruthless B. Savage af or C beast mode
— Ginger Boy Daley (@jdaley2113) June 13, 2018
People especially like to slap savage AF on funny memes, takedown tweets, or celebrity rivalries, whether between Drake and Pusha-T or Chik-fil-A and Wendy's.
Savage af pic.twitter.com/l4CGTadRla
— you don’t know me ☮ ❤🖕 (@Jamie_eliza34) May 26, 2018
2pac was savage af on "Hit Em Up" lol.
@BELIEVEINTHEGLO, July, 2013
"On your best day you're not as smart as I am on my worst day". SAVAGE AF
@Ash__Attack, May, 2018
21 Kids Who Are More Savage Than You’ll Ever Be...When kids stop being cute and start getting real.
Sandra Mendez, BuzzFeed (headline and sub-headline), September, 2016