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Origin of TBH
BEHIND THE WORD
What does TBH mean?
TBH, commonly written as tbh, is an internet acronym for to be honest. Online and sometimes in speech, TBH is used to indicate a frank statement or admission, express an opinion or preference, or make a wry or provocative comment.
How is TBH pronounced?[ tee-bee-eych ]
What are some other words related to TBH?
Where does TBH come from?
TBH for to be honest appeared as early as 1991 and spread on social media in the late 2000s. TBH has proven so successful as an internet acronym that many speakers have incorporated it into their speech as well.
TBH figures into some notable internet practices. One is like for a tbh, where a person will give a peer a thoughtful compliment if that person likes their social media post.
A more problematic activity is tbh, rate, and date. This is a prompt where someone requests friends’ opinions of them. The friends then post an honest statement, a rating, and whether they’d date them or not.
These practices inspired a short-lived app, tbh, which allowed students to give positive feedback to one another. Facebook acquired it in 2017 before shuttering it about a year later due to lack of use.
How is TBH used in real life?
TBH is often written as tbh in texts and on social media. In speech, where it does see use, its initials are pronounced.
Like its original phrase to be honest, tbh is multifunctional. It signposts a range of expressions where one is revealing frank feelings or opinions, whether earnest and serious or more playful and mundane.
PM says she’ll ‘control people coming to the UK from the EU as we do from the rest of the World.’ Tbh, I don’t remember anyone complaining to me about EU migrants in 2016. The sad truth is that people raised migration from Asia, Africa & Middle East – unaffected by these changes
— Owen Smith (@OwenSmith_UK) October 2, 2018
i made some exceptionally good pasta today tbh
— Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev) October 2, 2018
Younger users may use a tbh to indicate they are giving a compliment, though the practice of liking a status for a tbh became less popular in the late 2010s.
More examples of TBH:
“[S]he gets so many likes on her pictures because she’s posted over nine pictures saying, ‘Like all my pictures for a tbh, comment when done.’ So everyone will like her pictures, and she’ll just give them a simple tbh.”
—Katherine Pommerening quoted by Jessica Contrera, The Washington Post, May 2016