"Don't Worry" written on a sign
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The acronym “DW” is a great way to make a conversation a little less tense. We’ll tell you what it means and how to use it in your messages.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

DW stands for “don’t worry.” It is used to tell someone to relax and stop worrying about something. It can be sent as a complete message on its own or paired with other phrases. For example, “dw about it” or “dw too much.”

It’s a widespread term in text messages and chat apps, such as WhatsApp and iMessage. You can also find it used in social media websites like Twitter and Instagram.

The initialism is written in the lowercase “dw” instead of the uppercase “DW.” It can also be written as “d/w” with a slash between the letters, similar to how “whatever” is written as “w/e”. However, this style is largely outdated.

The Origins of DW

The actual phrase “don’t worry” has been in use for a very long time. It was famously featured in the Bobby McFerrin song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” which topped the charts in 1988.

DW is part of the early group of internet acronyms that came into popular use in the 1990s and the 2000s. The first definition for it on Urban Dictionary dates back to 2003. Along with other slang terms like TBH and AFK, DW emerged in online chatrooms and early internet forums. It then gained even more popularity with the rise of instant messaging apps such as AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo Messenger.

Living without Worry

DW is a calming, reassuring acronym. It’s used to tell someone that they don’t need to worry about something. It can defuse a tense situation with someone in chat.

One of the most common uses of DW is to show that you’ve gotten a problem or situation taken care of. For example, if someone is concerned about the weather for an outdoor event tomorrow, you might say, “dw, I checked the weather earlier today, and the forecast was sunny.” In this context, DW gives someone assurance that you have a handle on things.

Alternatively, it can also be used to downplay the significance of something. For example, if someone is apprehensive about their outfit, you might say “dw” to tell them that it doesn’t really matter what they wear. In this use case, it’s a friendlier alternative to “IDC” or “I don’t care.”

Dear Wife?

A man massaging his wife's shoulders in a kitchen.

Another use for the acronym DW can be found in online marriage or parenting forums. In that context, it stands for “dear wife” or “darling wife”—an online term of endearment for people to refer to their partner. It is often used alongside other family-based internet acronyms such as DH, DS, and DD, which refer to “dear husband,” “dear son,” and “dear daughter,” respectively.

While this usage is significantly less common than “don’t worry,” you might still run across it sometimes. It’s often found in stories or posts that reference someone’s spouse. For example, a user might post, “My DW recently repainted our master bedroom. It looks amazing!” It can also be used in a tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic way. If they’re actually very frustrated with their partner about something, they might use the additional “dear” to express that.

There are also some other niche uses of DW. It can be a shorthand for the popular British science-fiction show Doctor Who and its titular hero in movie and television circles. It is also the initials of a character in the adult animated show Archer.

How to Use DW

To use DW, put it in place of where you’d otherwise say “don’t worry.” If you’re using it in a conversation or a social media post, make sure you use the lowercase “dw.” Because it’s such a casual slang term, avoid using it in formal or business communication.

Here are a few ways you can use DW in your messages:

  • dw, I’ll take care of it.
  • I already asked the landlord for repairs, dw about it.
  • dw, I’m sure things will get better soon.
  • dw about the laundry for now.

If you don’t want to worry about knowing the right words when you’re online, you should check out our explainers on other internet acronyms like NVM and TLDR.

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.
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