What Does It Mean?
FTFY is an abbreviation for “fixed that for you.” People often use it on Reddit and Twitter to poke fun at the opinions, grammar, or work of others. It’s universally understood as sarcasm, although, like any such joke, FTFY can come off as rude or aggressive.
There are some situations in which FTFY is genuinely helpful, though. For example, after you solve a problem for a coworker, you might text “FTFY.” After fixing broken links in a thread, a Reddit moderator might also post “FTFY” to indicate everything’s squared.
However, these situations are kind of rare on most of the internet.
A Long, Quiet History
The origin of FTFY is unknown, but an example of the phrase was first added to Urban Dictionary in 2005. From this example, it appears FTFY was originally a totally genuine, non-sarcastic phrase, like the following:
“I can’t see the image.”
“It’s okay, I FTFY.”
Over time, it morphed into something more sardonic. The internet used to be a lot more hands-on, even for people who only used it casually. Given that, it makes sense that FTFY started as a helpful phrase.
Instances like the example we used above could have started in internet forums that relied on annoying formatting tags (like BBCode) to embed images into posts. Or, it might be referring to programming, website building, or profile customization on websites like MySpace (which involved some CSS, the language used to style web page HTML code).
Fewer people have a reason to format code for web pages every year. This might explain why FTFY is now used sarcastically. Around 2009 or ’10, FTFY became a meme and spawned sarcastic subreddits, like /r/FTFY. According to Google Trends, the abbreviation hit peak popularity in 2012 and has been in decline since.
Now, FTFY is just one of the many unpopular abbreviations floating around Reddit. Again, it’s still predominantly known and used as a sarcastic term. However, programmers, content creators, and journalists who work on the internet, and communicate with coworkers over it, as well, still sometimes use FTFY genuinely.
How Do You Use FTFY?
Want to learn how to use FTFY like a pro? Okay! Let’s say you open a Reddit thread about sitcoms. You see a post that says, “Seinfeld is the best sitcom of all time,” but you disagree. You could quote the Reddit post, edit it to read, “I Love Lucy is the best sitcom of all time,” and then add “FTFY” after the quote.
That’s a pretty dry, but typical example. You quote someone, change a few words, and then add FTFY. This formula works for just about any situation—from silly conversations about cats to verbally violent political arguments.
But what if you want to use FTFY in a non-sarcastic way? Well, you’ll have to start fixing problems for people! Fix someone’s typo in a Facebook group description or invite omitted coworkers to a Google Calendar group. Then, you can use FTFY without making it a joke.
Just keep in mind your friends might not know what FTFY means. You might have to fix that for them.