NSFW is all the rage these days and if you are active on social media, you must have read this somewhere in a post or a joke. If not, then get familiar with this popular abbreviation ‘NSFW’ so that you can keep up with the trend. 

This guide will take you through all the information about NSFW including what NSFW stands for, its meaning usage, and much more. 

Let’s roll.


NSFW- What does It Mean?

The abbreviation NSFW means or stands for ‘Not safe for work’. The acronym represents a warning that the content you are going to watch or listen to is inappropriate to watch in public. Normally, this word is used regarding pornographic content as a warning for unpleasant, violent, obscene, or politically charged content. 

NSFW Meaning- Urban Dictionary defined “NSFW” as a short term for ‘Not Safe for Work’ in 2003, and later on, in 2015, it was added to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.

The Use of NSFW

Initially, the abbreviation was used to represent a post or email that you should avoid looking at in your office or with someone around. However, the term has evolved so much with time that its use is not restricted to the workplace anymore. NSFW has become more of an adjective now and is used to describe all sorts of rude posts, gross memes or pics, and tongue-in-cheek jokes and also a warning if you are about to watch them in public. NSFW is used to define the things that aren’t safe to watch or listen to at work and can save you from embarrassment.

For instance, if your kids are around and you were about to open a link that says NSFW, this can save you from the awkward moment in front of them. 

From YouTube videos, email, link, news article, NSFW can be found everywhere. The term can represent anything that can make you or someone around you uncomfortable. NSFW is occasionally accompanied by another term ‘TW’ that stands for ‘Trigger Warning’.

For instance, if a video has potentially disturbing content such as sexual abuse, violence, eating disorders, self-harm, that will have a warning like “NSFW TW: Video”. 

The Origin of NSFW

Going back to the era when nothing was digital, it was easier to find and avoid inappropriate content. Terms like PG, PG-13, R, NC-17 were used to classify movies into different categories so that the parents can easily determine if a movie is suitable to watch for their kids.

However, things have changed over time and you never know when you are heading towards something inappropriate on the internet. There have been instances where people have clicked on links assuming it to be something else and have ended up getting embarrassed. Moreover, most people on the internet don’t consider it necessary to mark their inappropriate content.

VICE has provided a brief history of NSFW where it has explained that the term evolved from the culture of the Snopes.com’s forum. This happened in 1998 when a woman visited the forum to report that users must label the post as ‘NFBSK’ (not for British school kids) whenever there is something inappropriate. Slowly, NFBSK made an entry to every other forum and chatroom and with time, it got transformed into NSFW.

NSFW is a reinvented term for the warning “This show contains scenes that may offend some viewers.”

When to Say NSFW?

Knowing the latest internet jargon such as ‘GG’ that is popular in gaming makes you trendy but that’s not enough. It is more important to know when to say it otherwise the term that is there to save you from the embarrassment will ultimately put you in an awkward situation.

NSFW, when used as a label is quite useful especially when it comes before the inappropriate content such as in the header of an email, website, YouTube videos, and so on. 

Even if you are sending NSFW in a text message, it will mean the same and can be used at the beginning of the text message as a warning. This will let the person know that the message has some inappropriate text written and he can save himself from getting into an uncomfortable situation. 

Note- It is not recommended to send inappropriate content to someone if you know that is going to make them uncomfortable or you can simply ask them before hitting the send button.

Not everyone will be responsible enough to add NSFW before sending you something inappropriate, so it is your responsibility to ask the sender before clicking on any link- ‘Is this NSFW?’ or you can ask ‘Is this SFW?’ where SFW stands for ‘Safe for work’ and can be used in a similar way like NSFW.

Wrap Up

It is always good to stay updated with the trending slang words as you never know the moment you will face them. Hopefully, this piece of information about NSFW was helpful to you, and if yes, then pass it on to your friends too.