A person laughing while looking at a smartphone.

If you see “jk” on a message you just received, that’s a sign you shouldn’t take it too seriously. Here’s what the acronym is and how you can use it to lighten up a conversation.

“Just Kidding”

JK stands for “just kidding.” It’s used to indicate that something you just said is a joke and is not meant to be taken seriously. It can be said in response to someone’s reaction to your joke, or it can be preemptively stated before the other person has even responded.

JK is commonly written in the lowercase “jk.” Depending on when a post was written, you might also find it spelled “j/k” with a slash in between. It is often used in conjunction with other popular internet acronyms that denote laughter, such as LOL, ROFL, and LMAO. For example, you might send someone the message “lol jk” in response to their reaction to your joke.

From J/K to JK

JK is one of the very earliest internet acronyms to emerge, with its roots tracing back to the very earliest internet chatrooms and continuing into instant messaging in the 2000s. The first definition of the acronym on Urban Dictionary dates back to 2001, which reads “Acronym. Just kidding.”

Since its initial inception, the way that the acronym is written has evolved. It used to be spelled “j/k” with a slash between the letters. However, in the last decade, the slash has mostly been dropped by the new generation of internet users.

On the other hand, the way it is used has remained the same over time. It is still being used to clarify that something said should not be taken that seriously, or to keep the conversation light. The phrase itself has been in use for a very long time and has always had the same meaning, even before the acronym’s invention.

Keeping Things Light

In the same way that “lol” and “lmao” have become staples of internet conversations even when no one is laughing, JK is often used to keep the conversation light. You might say “jk” to make a discussion on a serious topic seem less intense than it is, or to be able to provide commentary without coming across as rude.

There are also specific scenarios where the acronym is used to backpedal on an insult or to avoid offending another party. For example, let’s say that you say something that could be considered offensive or unwarranted. You might then say “jk” to make them believe that you didn’t mean what you said. This could be the case even if you entirely meant what you said.

Another way that people use “jk” is for sarcasm. You could make a remark that you actually mean, then use “jk” to imply that you were being sarcastic. While it’s nearly impossible to convey sarcasm across the internet, using jk is a decent stand-in.

Other “JKs”

A portrait photo of actor J.K. Simmons
American actor J.K. Simmons DFree/Shutterstock.com

Unlike other internet acronyms, “JK” has a few meanings that have nothing to do with the slang term.

There are a plethora of celebrities and personalities that are also named or nicknamed “JK.” These include Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, American actor J.K. Simmons, and the k-pop star Jeon Jungkook. Therefore, if you see the acronym “JK” on social media, especially on Twitter, don’t immediately assume that the person is referring to internet slang. They might simply be referring to one of these famous personalities.

There’s also a common misinterpretation of the acronym: That it stands for “joking” instead of “just kidding.” However, these two mean the same thing—which is not to take things so seriously.

How to Use JK

As we’ve illustrated above, there are quite a few ways that you can use “jk” to complete a thought. Here are some examples of “jk” being used:

  • “When did you start becoming so responsible? jk.”
  • “I’m definitely not going to your birthday party. jk.”
  • “Nah, I don’t want to eat your cookies. JK, I bet they’re delicious!”
  • “That shade of green is hideous. lol jk.”

If you want to explore some other online acronyms, check out our articles on NSFW and TLDR. You’ll be texting like an internet native in no time!

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

Profile Photo for 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.
Read Full Bio »