Swiping in an online dating app on a smartphone.
Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock.com

“Swipe right” and “swipe left” are essential phrases in online dating. As a result, they’ve been making their way to all corners on the internet—and beyond. Here’s what these phrases mean and where they come from.

Swipe Left, Swipe Right

If you’ve been on the internet lately, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a meme or a post that uses the term “swipe left” or “swipe right.” These two terms come from Tinder, the most popular online dating app around the world.

“Swipe right” means to like or accept someone, while “swipe left” means to reject them. The meaning of these two phrases is taken from one of Tinder’s core mechanics. When a person sees a profile on their Tinder feed, they can either swipe right to show their interest or swipe left if they’re uninterested. If both people swipe right on each other, they’ll be matched up.

It’s common for two people not to match even if one of them swipes right. Creating a match requires mutual interest from both parties. If you don’t end up matching with someone you swiped right on, you can just assume that they swiped left on you.

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How Dating Apps Work

Bumble Online Dating
Bumble

Although Tinder was the service that popularized “swipe right” and “swipe left,” most modern dating apps use some variation of the “swipe right” and “swipe left.” Other very popular dating apps that use similar mechanics include Bumble and Coffee Meets Bagel.

Most of these dating apps follow a straightforward premise: Upload several photos of yourself along with a description, some interests, and personal information. You will then see profiles within your preferred age range, distance, and gender. If you and a potential partner both “swipe right” on each other, you will have a match.

From that point on, you can freely talk to each other, both inside and outside the app. Some apps, like Bumble, also have a timeout feature, where the match expires if someone does not make a move. Many apps also have premium features that include seeing everyone that swiped right on you.

The popularity of dating apps has made online dating the de facto way of meeting people for many. As a result, many aspects of this experience have made their way into pop culture.

“Swiping” in Real Life and Memes

Because online dating culture has become so ubiquitous and widespread on the internet and in real life, the terms involved have also become commonplace. The terms “swipe right” and “swipe left” have become ways for people to identify whether or not they’re interested in something or someone.

You might also encounter these terms in memes or funny tweets on social media. Usually, “swiping left” on something means showing your displeasure with it.

Here are a few examples of online dating slang being used in real-life conversations or memes:

  • I’d swipe left on that cake. Too many carbs!
  • I’d definitely swipe right on him!
  • So how are you feeling about your relationship? Swipe left or swipe right?

RELATED: What Is a Meme (and How Did They Originate)?

Other Online Dating Slang

Aside from swiping left and swiping right, there are a few other terms from online dating culture that have become popular memes and slang words on the internet. Here are some of the ones that you should know:

  • Match: A pair of people who have expressed mutual interest in each other on a dating app. Matches are allowed to send each other messages.
  • Super Like/Swipe up: This is a term derived from Tinder’s “super like” feature, which allows you to highlight your profile to a user that you’re very interested in. When used outside Tinder, it means that you really like something.
  • Ghosting: This means to stop replying to someone altogether. This is a reasonably popular term even outside of dating and can apply to all kinds of scenarios.
  • Catfishing: A term established in the earliest days of online dating, which means to use fake photos of yourself to gain more matches and meet more people.
  • Breadcrumbing: This means talking to someone in a non-committal manner, which could leave them hanging and waiting for a confirmation.

If you want to learn more about popular online slang, then you might want to check our breakdowns of the acronyms NSFW and AMA.

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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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