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What Does “AFAIK” Mean, and How Do You Use It?

Keys from a computer keyboard spelling out "AFAIK"
tookitook/Shutterstock.com

If you frequently browse online forums and social media sites, chances are you’ve seen the term “AFAIK” at least once. We’ll explain what it means and how to use it properly.

“As Far As I Know”

AFAIK means “as far as I know.” It denotes that the piece of knowledge you’re sharing is something you believe to be correct, but you’re not sure if it’s wholly accurate or up to date. The full phrase is commonly used in both online interactions and in-person conversations. It has a similar meaning to the phrase “to my knowledge.”

When used on the internet, such as in text messages or on social media, AFAIK takes on the same meaning. You can use it in both uppercase (AFAIK) and lowercase (afaik). It’s frequently seen on message boards and microblogging sites, such as Twitter and Reddit.

AFAIK can also be interchangeably used with the initialism IIRC, which means “if I recall correctly” or “if I remember correctly.” Both are generally used to connote that the writer or speaker is saying something that is likely correct, but that they’re not entirely sure about.

This initialism should not be confused with AFK, which means “away from keyboard.”

RELATED: What Does IIRC Mean, and How Do You Use It?

The History of AFAIK

The term “as far as I know” has been in use for a very long time, but its internet initialism has a much more recent history.

Like most internet initialisms, acronyms, and slang words, AFAIK can be traced back to early IRC chatrooms around the 1990s and early 2000s. Because computers had limited screen space and the only method of communication was text, early adopters shortened many fairly lengthy phrases, such as “as far as I know.” Shortening allowed for snappier conversations and less typing.

Initialisms like AFAIK continued to thrive on platforms like instant messaging and SMS, which often had caps on character count and encouraged shorter texts. Later on, they would find a home on social media websites like Twitter, which also has a character count limit.

The Internet Disclaimer

AFAIK is often used as a soft online “disclaimer.” While it’s not intended to discredit your message entirely, it encourages others to take it with a grain of salt. The initialism is often paired with phrases like “but don’t take my word for it” or “but don’t quote me on that.”

Often, a post with “afaik” is correct, but the user adds it to seem more modest and non-confrontational. This is common in online message boards. For example, if the original poster asks a question regarding the regular cost of a particular item, someone might reply, “AFAIK, it costs $250” even if they’re sure it costs $250.

Other times, AFAIK is used to qualify potential variations between people’s experiences. For example, if someone asks, “what’s the quietest area in the city?”, someone may reply with an “AFAIK” before sharing the quietest neighborhood in their experience. This is a use that overlaps with the internet initialism YMMV, or “your mileage may vary.”

AFAIK in Personal Conversations

A man texting on a smartphone.
GaudiLab/Shutterstock.com

AFAIK can also be used to describe things that are happening in your daily life. When used in a real-life context, it usually represents something that you believe is true now but may change in the future.

For example, if someone asks you if you’re working this weekend, you might answer, “AFAIK, I’m not.” What this tells the other person is that you are currently off-duty for the weekend, but that could potentially change if you suddenly have something urgent to attend to.

How to Use AFAIK

“As far as I know” is a relatively common conversational phrase, so it should be easy to pick up how to use and interpret it. As mentioned above, you can use it to accompany a piece of knowledge you’re sharing or describe something that varies person-to-person.

Here are a few ways to use AFAIK:

  • AFAIK the school will resume classes in the fall.
  • AFAIK Lebron James was born in Ohio.
  • This store has a pretty generous refund policy AFAIK.
  • We’re spending Thanksgiving at my sister’s house, AFAIK.

If you want to learn about other internet terms, read up on IRL and SMH. You’ll be an internet initialism expert in no time.

RELATED: What Does "TFW" Mean, and How Do You Use It?

Vann Vicente Vann Vicente
Vann Vicente has been a technology writer for four years, with a focus on explainers geared towards average consumers. He also works as a digital marketer for a regional e-commerce website. He's invested in internet culture, social media, and how people interact with the web.
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