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If you use any social media site, chances are you’ve seen the acronym TFW followed by some string of text. TFW stands for “that feel when” or “that feeling when.” It is internet slang for when someone wants to express emotion or a feeling of an event that happened to them. The said event is something that almost everyone can relate to. However, there are times when the text following TFW is completely open to interpretation.

Just like looking up the meaning of a complicated word in the dictionary can leave you more confused, TFW can be better understood with an example. As mentioned, the acronym is followed by something that is relatable. For example: TFW when a complete joke becomes leader of the free world.

Although the use of TFW to convey a feeling can be done through text alone, adding a photo or GIF makes it even more relatable – or funny for that matter. For instance, there’s a popular image of James Van der Beek crying which can be used to enhance the meaning of TFW. The text could say TFW when you gave up watching football to study for a test, only to find it cancelled.

How did TFW start?

It’s not particularly clear how TFW started, but it may be related to the I Know that Feel Bro meme which first appeared in 2011 – and is still being used to this day. The meme features two bald men hugging each other and it first appeared on the message board 4chan. The image was meant to be a express that you understand what the other person posted about. Basically, it’s one telling the other, “I feel you.”

While that meme was pretty popular, the original image was from a German image board called Krautchan. The original just showed one bald man – the one being hugged in the meme version. A user called Wojak shared the image with the platform and accompanied it with a lament about not having a girlfriend. The internet being what it is, dubbed the photo “Wojack’s face.”

Soon enough, internet users began using the photo with the caption “I know that feel bro” to express sympathy towards another. Eventually, people started posting sans the image and the words then morphed to the proper “that feeling when.”


You could say that TFW is a variation of the I Know that Feel Bro meme. In essence, both express somewhat the same sentiment. The ever innovative people of the internet have, of course, created several variations of the meme since it began. There’s the Feels Good meme, the Feels meme, and even the Feels Bad Man meme.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is true with TFW and other memes. While TFW can stand on its own with just text, throwing in pictures or GIFs into the mix enhances the meaning of the message. Sometimes, even photos alone with TFW captions are enough to get the message across.

You can give TFW a try on your favorite social media sites to see the response you’ll garner.