All The Feels! My 10 Favorite Pieces Of Tumblr Lingo

Tumblr lingo ovaries all the fucks I give what is air Harry Styles One Direction

I have plenty of problems with Tumblr fandom. It often feels like you have to wade through a bunch of immature, hyperbolic posts before you get to anything worthwhile. And as someone who was part of the original Firefly fandom and knows what it is to love a show or celebrity that other people judge you for, it’s difficult to see kids who follow mainstream stuff like Glee calling themselves “nerds” and “fans” in the same way. However! Tumblr brings an incredibly important factor to fandom that never existed when I was online in the early 2000s: Their own language, supplemented with incredible .gifs that instantly get to the heart of what they’re trying to say.

There are so many times I scroll through certain Tumblr tag pages for Crushable, or see .gif communities pop up on my personal dashboard, and I’m continually impressed and astounded by how universal these little moving images are. Especially when they’re utilized to communicate Tumblr lingo. In just a few years, these users have created an endless list of slang—catchphrases and abbreviations that sum up their reactions to heartbreaking TV twists and swoon-worthy celebrities in addictive shorthand. I keep running into little phrases and have been cataloging them for a feature just such as this. So without further ado, here are my ten favorite pieces of Tumblr lingo.

Photo: onedirectioncontagiousinfection


Tumblr lingo feels my emotions gif

via artistic–differences

Tumblr lingo "right in the feels" gif

via thelastghostgirl

This is probably the phrase I see most often, regardless of which fandom or celebrity tags page I’m searching. As you might’ve guessed, “feels” is an abbreviation of “feelings”—likely because it was just more convenient to make it one syllable. Rarely do I see .gifs of just that one word, however; it’s folded into larger phrases like all the feels or right in the feels, as you an see in the Avengers .gif above. (Fun fact: Someone followed up that specific .gif with one of Clark Gregg‘s character Agent Coulson, or right in the Pheels.)


Tumblr lingo hnng unf Benedict Cumberbatch gif

via i’msooochangeable

Tom Hiddleston unf gif Tumblr lingo

via lifeinredshades

Perhaps the most onomatopoeic piece of lingo, “hnng” and “unf” are the sex noises you make when you encounter some smoldering creature—usually a celebrity, and usually a guy, though the noises are just as applicable to ladies and regular folks that you simply find hot. More than anything else, these words signify the shift in how bold fans are about expressing their sexuality online, especially considering that many Tumblr users are teenagers who are usually shielded from anything vaguely sexual.

Careful when you search this one, because in addition to silly .gifs you’ll get nude photos and even some offerings from online exhibitionists.


Tumblr lingo I can't gif Armie Hammer

via sayitwithgifs

Tumblr lingo I cant gif Naya Rivera

Tumblr lingo I can't gif Little Mermaid

via iCarly wiki

This phrase definitely existed when I was in fandom, but it was more of a response than anything else: You’d see something upsetting or disturbing and just peace out of the conversation with “I can’t.” As in, “I can’t deal with this” or “I can’t have the patience for the rest of you.” But now people use it to start discussions, along the lines of “I can’t deal with this, but what about the rest of you?”


Tumblr lingo ovaries exploding Hawkeye

via inlovewiththebadguy

Tumblr lingo ovaries exploding gif Tony Stark

via fyeahovaries

This one made me laugh out loud in disbelief the first time I came across it, because it’s just that outrageous and… well, on the nose. Considering that fandom is still majority female, this pretty adequately sums up our reactions when we come across some devastatingly handsome guy. But whoever actually decided to introduce the uncomfortable mental image of our ovaries blowing up like the Death Star… bravo, lady.


Tumblr lingo the last fuck I give gif

via pixelboxer

Tumblr lingo dont give a fuck Obi Wan Anakin gif

Tumblr lingo dont give a fuck gif Obi Wan Anakin

via dannybowes

I love, love this classic piece of lingo. No, it didn’t originate with Tumblr, but thanks to .gifs there are so many ways you can express the anger, bitterness, exasperation, and excitement of not giving a fuck. I could dedicate an entire post to what I’d find after just quick search. They’re just so ridiculous! (Related: IDGAF, or “I don’t give a fuck.”)


Tumblr lingo judging you gif Harry Potter

via unlimitedreactiongifs

Tumblr lingo judging you gif The Hunger Games Josh Hutcherson Jennifer Lawrence

via unlimitedreactiongifs

Of course the members of any online community won’t always agree with each other. And since Tumblr is the meeting place for so many fandoms — often opposing — we need a way to express disagreement or disdain. Plus, making it look like the celebrities or characters someone loves has turned on them, is a pretty effective way of intimidating someone.


Emma Stone my body is ready gif Tumblr lingo

Snape my body is ready gif Tumblr lingo

via inner-mind-theater

This meme originated from the awkward phrasing of a Nintendo exec in 2007 but has now taken on a decidedly sexual (or at least hedonistic) meaning. Basically, if you’re excited about anything coming to you, you use this. The best part of the two .gifs above is that Emma Stone is imitating the Snape .gif that has become one of the most famous associated with the phrase because of how damn well it works.


Tumblr lingo stop being perfect gif flawless

via hellonarcissus

Tumblr lingo stop being perfect gif flawless

via choisullianon

The whole use of “flawless” is another larger post I’m going to write in the future. I first encountered it on ONTD, with posters overusing the word for every person they wrote about. Somehow this specific word “flawless” has become the ultimate compliment, but whereas it describes whoever you’re a fan of, the other piece of lingo I’ve found on Tumblr is the fan’s response, a weird command/plea in “stop being perfect.”


Tumblr lingo stop blowing holes in my ship gif

via thingsshipperssay

Tumblr lingo I will go down with this ship gif

via yo-face-daily

Again with the horny kids! This phrase comes in handy when you’re reading a fanfic — or something like Fifty Shades of Grey, I guess — and you just know that the outcome is gonna be sexytimes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any specific .gifs to match this, so I went with the larger realm of ‘shippers: People who worship fictional relationships in fandom. (I don’t know which one inspired the term, but I assume it’s one of them.)


Tumblr lingo what is air gif Stephen Colbert scream

via ONTD

Tumblr lingo what is air gif Kristen Bell sloths

via ghostbooties

This one is simple and lovely: It’s what you say when you’re laughing so hard you can’t breathe.

Share your favorite pieces of Tumblr lingo and accompanying .gifs in the comments!

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    • Maggie

      This is HILARIOUS. I also have a question because I am not hip with the lingo of the internet, but what does SMH stand for?

      • Shay Adams

        Shaking My Head -that’s a shame-

      • Natalie Zutter

        For the longest time, I thought it stood for “so much hate”–but yeah, it’s “shaking my head.”

    • Steph

      I tend to have a lot of feels when on tumblr, so it’s mostly that one. Though to be honest, I feel weird when more mainstream sites talk about tumblr. Not that we aren’t welcoming, but because we like our weird community.

      • Natalie Zutter

        I get that–if pop culture sites were writing about LiveJournal when I was on there, it would feel like we were being scrutinized. All I can say is that despite working for a mainstream site, I’d like to think that at heart I’m more like other Tumblr users.

    • Ash

      “Ship” comes from “relationship.” When someone imagines to characters in a relationship the “ship” them. Their favorite is their OTP (One True Pairing). Character ships are usually identified with a couple name like, Harmione (Harry and Hermione).

      • Natalie Zutter

        I figured it came from “relationship,” but I swear I heard something about “worship” years ago. haha yeah, I didn’t even think about incorporating OTP and OT3 into the conversation because I’m trying to ease our readers into fandom-speak, but good on you for including them.

    • Kirbyderby

      “What is air” is for when your FANGIRLING so hard you can’t breathe…

    • MonsterAndUnicorn

      You also have asdfghjkl (alternativly any) keyboard smash for when you caaan’t because feels from your favourite OTP from one of your fandoms,

      Later pesants

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    • Lalalala~

      I see SNSD and f(x)!! :D

    • Anonymous

      The ‘in the feels’ is quite old, and dates back to an anonymous image site’s ‘random’ board. I think ‘hnnnnng’ is also from about the same era. (I first saw it around, maybe… 8 years ago?)

    • Helena

      Unf, aside from being an onomatopeia, also stands for “universal noise of fucking” :-).

      I can’t believe I knew all of these, and most of the gifs to boot. I must get off Tumblr!

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