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What Is 'FTW'? What Does It Mean?


Young businessmen cheering and laughing
Pando Hall/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Question: What Is 'FTW'? What Does It Mean?

While participating in an online discussion forum about cars, you see this weird expression 'FTW'. People post phrases like 'anti-lock braking, ftw!' and 'all-wheel drive, ftw!'. You also see the same thing in an online gaming forum. The gamer participants are posting phrases like 'polymorph, ftw!' and 'druid hurricane, ftw!'.

Answer: In 2014, the most common meaning of 'FTW' is 'for the win', an internet cheer used to express general enthusiasm.

While there were nastier meanings in previous years, FTW today commonly stands for 'For the Win'. FTW is a type of cheer, or a strange way of exclaiming 'this is the best' or 'this item makes a big difference, I recommend using it'. Examples would include: 'anti-lock braking, ftw!', 'spellchecker, ftw!', and 'low-carb diets, ftw!'

Origin of the Modern FTW Expression

This is unclear, but there are stories that FTW started around the year 2000 with the television game show, Hollywood Squares. While the contestants would try to complete the tic-tac-toe move for the prize, the closing move would be declared as 'I choose Whoopi Goldberg for the win'. This story is unconfirmed, but seems plausible. Special thanks to reader Marlee for this.

Older meanings of FTW

Years ago, 'FTW' used to have a very negative meaning: 'f**k the world'. This was a term commonly used by social rebels, anarchists and anti-authoritarian types to express frustration with modern society. Gratefully, this antisocial meaning has dramatically faded in use in the 21st century, and people now use 'for the win' as a modern cheer instead.

This FTW expression, like many other internet expressions, is part of online conversation culture. Read more about modern texting abbreviations and email shorthand...

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