Acronyms dictionary

AITA

[ ey-ahy-tee-ey ]

What does AITA mean?

AITA stands for Am I the Asshole? On social media, people ask AITA when sharing personal disputes in which they are unsure if they’ve acted they like an asshole—that is, been mean, selfish, or wrong in some way. Other people then offer their opinion on that person’s behavior. AITA was popularized by and is widely used in reference to r/AmITheAsshole, a Reddit forum dedicated to this activity.

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Related words

subreddit, sorry not sorry, douchebag

Examples of AITA

Queries range from the gloriously petty (AITA for ordering jalapenos on my pizza intentionally to stop my wife eating it?) to the seriously heavy (AITA for firing an employee after his parents died?).
Victoria Turk, Wired, June 2019
If Downhill is a feature-length AITA post, Zach and Rosie are the commenters, arguing over who's in the right and who's in the wrong and revealing as much about themselves in the process.
Angie Han, Mashable, January 2020

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Where does AITA come from?

Let’s start with the basics: When not referring to the body part, asshole is a vulgar slang word for “a stupid, mean, or contemptible person.” Being an asshole, as we popularly use the term, typically and specifically implies selfish or inconsiderate behavior.

The subreddit r/AmITheAsshole was created in June 2013 by user u/flignir. The forum describes itself as: “A catharsis for the frustrated moral philosopher in all of us, and a place to finally find out if you were wrong in an argument that’s been bothering you. Tell us about any non-violent conflict you have experienced; give us both sides of the story, and find out if you’re right, or you’re the asshole.”

Using the abbreviation AITA for Am I the Asshole? can be found in the subreddit’s earliest posts. According to the forum’s rules, users have to title their posts with AITA or WIBTA (the hypothetical Would I Be The Asshole?) followed by a description of their conflict. Conflicts range in seriousness—and perceived jerkishness. To get a flavor for AITA disputes, here are some of the most popular posts from 2019: 

  • AITA because I ate more than “my share” of a 6 foot party sub last night?
  • AITA for using money we “earmarked” for our 6 month old’s college fund to buy back the exact 1972 Ford Bronco I owned as a teenager?
  • AITA if I “cancel” Christmas because I can’t afford it this year?
  • AITA for very rarely/almost never wanting to go to restaurants because my girlfriend makes food that’s just as good, if not better, than restaurant food?
  • AITA for very rarely/almost never wanting to go to restaurants because my girlfriend makes food that’s just as good, if not better, than restaurant food?
  • AITA for not teaching a skill to my oldest son that I taught his siblings because of the custody arrangement?

Others rules on the forum govern content (e.g., disputes can’t be violent in nature or about breakups), user behavior (being civil to each other), and purpose (not seeking advice, focusing on passing moral judgment). To pass judgment, users respond with the following conventions, with an explanation of their reasoning.

  • YTA (You’re the Asshole), meaning the poster is in the wrong and the other party in the conflict isn’t
  • NTA (Not the Asshole), or, the poster isn’t at fault and the other party is
  • ESH (Everyone Sucks Here), or, there is a problem with everyone involved in the conflict
  • NAH (No Assholes Here), or, no one in the conflict is in the wrong
  • INFO, or, the commenter doesn’t think there is a enough information to make a judgment

In 2016, the abbreviation AITA spread on Twitter, often used with a link or reference to r/AmITheAsshole. After being featured on the homepage of Reddit and discussed in popular media, r/AmITheAsshole exploded in popularity, surged to nearly 2 million as of February 2020.

While not officially affiliated with r/AmITheAsshole, the Twitter account, @AITA_reddit, shares content from subreddit. It launched in May 2019 and, as of February 2020, has amassed nearly 225,000 followers. This account helped further popularize AITA

Who uses AITA?

As noted above, on the r/AmITheAsshole forum, AITA is specifically used in the title of a post. It begins a question about a conflict, such as AITA for, if, because? Many people follow this same setup on social media, whether they are using AITA in the context of the r/AmITheAsshole forum or a post there or not.

Thanks to the popularity of the r/AmITheAsshole subreddit, AITA has spread as a more general convention for getting feedback on personal conflicts and disputes social media. That said, AITA is still widely used a shorthand for the forum as well as an instance of an AITA post and discussion.

The activity of AITA has become common enough that some people post AITA? or #AITA on its own at the end of a description of their episode. And AITA, naturally enough, can stand in for am I the asshole anywhere that phrase is needed in a sentence.

Keep in mind, of course, that asshole is vulgar slang, so AITA may be not be appropriated in polite or formal settings. Also keep in mind that AITA can stand for many other things, such as the All India Tennis Association.

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of AITA like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of AITA that will help our users expand their word mastery.