or hum·ble brag
OTHER WORDS FROM humblebraghum·ble·brag·ger, noun
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MORE ABOUT HUMBLEBRAG
What does humblebrag mean?
When you want to boast but pretend to be modest about it, or if you gripe about something most people would desire, you’re humblebragging. The term, and practice, is especially common on social media.
Example: Ugh, my phone is so old! I’m embarrassed to take it with me during my dates with supermodels and actors.
Where does humblebrag come from?
Humblebrag is a compound (and oxymoron) of the words humble and brag. The word is commonly credited to Harris Wittels, a writer and producer for the TV sitcom Parks and Recreation, who created the Twitter account @Humblebrag in 2010.
After noticing a trend of social media users posting modest or self-deprecating posts that actually just bragged about something or complained about something desirable, Wittels created @Humblebrag to aggregate examples. Examples were especially common from celebrities. For instance:
My second day of shooting with Bryan Cranston is almost over. I'm not bragging, I'm sad.
— Matt Braunger (@Braunger) October 30, 2010
Ouch! I think I'm developing carpel tunnel from writing MODELLAND novel.Plus I type with 3-4 fingers.Besides typing lessons, any remedies?
— Tyra Banks (@tyrabanks) April 12, 2011
Humblebrag quickly caught on as a word and phenomenon. It just lost out to the word occupy as the American Dialect Society’s 2011 Word of the Year. Wittels even went on to write a book about it, Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty, in 2012.
By the late 2010s, behavior on social media came under increasing scrutiny. Major outlets like HuffPost, Time, and CNBC published popular articles discussing scientific research into the risks of excessive humblebragging. (Turns out, we humans really like sincerity after all, eh?)
How is humblebrag used in real life?
One can humblebrag, engage in humblebragging, or issue a humblebrag. A person given to humblebragging may even (jocularly) be called a humblebraggart. The term finds a lot of use on social media, where people attempt that great balancing act of making themselves look great without coming across as too egotistical.
I get it. You're the coolest man on the planet!! Enough! — what I resisted saying when I met Johnny Depp (smoking, gold teeth) today.
— Josh Horowitz (@joshuahorowitz) December 2, 2010
As noted above, celebrities are especially accused of humblebragging.
Wow. We got mobbed at the airport. I think they thought we were @justinbieber …
— Adam Levine (@adamlevine) April 26, 2011
Apple, I'm so sorry I broke your App Store!!!
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) December 21, 2015
The first million is the hardest.
— Drizzy (@Drake) May 30, 2012
But we’re all guilty of the humblebrag. We might even use the hashtag #humblebrag when we want to celebrate a win but acknowledge that no one likes a show-off. Used in this way, humblebrag comes across much more endearingly.
I’ve sold 29 pieces of original art since yesterday. #humblebrag
— mme. t-a-c-o (@scoccaro) August 12, 2018
More examples of humblebrag:
“Don’t take that as an excuse to humblebrag, which research has shown won’t win you any friends.”
—Jamie Ducharme, Time, August 2018
“It wasn’t all good… we did have to buy an extra shelf for the ESPY trophy for Best Finish. #humblebrag”
—@WKUBasketball, August 2015
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
How to use humblebrag in a sentence
It will also allow the New Zealand government to use footage from the series to promote tourism as a post-pandemic humblebrag to the world.New Zealand is hitching its economic future to Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series|Adam Epstein|April 16, 2021|Quartz
Well, it’s not really my advice you’re needing, and in actual fact, this is just a humblebrag then.
He then regales them, boastful without even the sheen of a humblebrag, with tales of his glittering political career.Redford Takes on Rahm in the Furious Blur of ‘Chicagoland’|Tim Teeman|March 6, 2014|DAILY BEAST
This is an excerpt from HUMBLEBRAG: The Art of False Modesty by Harris Wittels.12 Best Humblebrag Tweets: Harris Wittels on Lena Dunham, George Clooney & More|Harris Wittels|September 28, 2012|DAILY BEAST