A person texting on an iPhone.
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Have you ever been sent a sentence referring to “smth” and wondered what that’s supposed to mean? We’ll explain this internet abbreviation to you and tell you how to use it.

“Something”

Unlike some of the other slang terms we’ve covered, SMTH is not an acronym. Instead, it’s a contracted version of “something.” It’s similar to other contractions, like “SRSLY” and “NVM,” which mean “seriously” and “never mind,” respectively.

It can be used as a shorter stand-in for anywhere where you’d use “something,” or it can take on its own meaning altogether. It’s very common in texts between younger, mobile-first users. You can also see it in posts and replies on social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

SMTH is rarely used in its uppercase form. Instead, it’s written out in the lowercase “smth.” Alternatively, you might also come across “sth,” which means the same thing. The abbreviation shouldn’t be confused with another popular online slang term, “SMH,” which means “shaking my head.” If you’re interested in learning more about SMH, you can check out our explainer on it here.

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The Etymology of SMTH

SMTH was invented somewhere between the 1990s and early 2000s, around the same time as other online slang terms. It first emerged in early chatting websites and internet forums and was later used in the age of SMS texting. The first entry for it in the online slang repository Urban Dictionary dates back to March of 2004. It defines the term as “an internet contraction for the word something.”

Since then, it’s been a common way to save the few seconds that it takes to write out the whole word. It has risen to prominence on online content-sharing platforms such as TikTok, which showcases videos with quickly flashing pieces of text.

… or SMTH

A man giving an exaggerated shrug.
Khosro/Shutterstock.com

Besides simply replacing the word “something,” the most common use of SMTH is as a noncommittal afterthought or indication that you’re not really sure about what you’re saying. You achieve this by stating it at the end of a sentence, often preceded by “or.”

For example, if someone asks you what you’re about to do, you might say, “I’ll watch TV or smth.” In that sentence, you’re not necessarily saying that you want to watch TV. You’re actually saying that you haven’t given it much thought, or that you don’t particularly care. This is common in casual texting, where messages are sent back and forth without much thought being given to each text. SMTH is frequently paired with other initialisms like IDC or “I don’t care.”

It can also signify that you don’t really know something too well. For example, if someone asks you how long it takes to get from the park to your home, you could say, “Maybe 10 minutes or smth.” In this sentence, “smth” is used together with “maybe” to signal that you’re just guessing the distance.

How to Use SMTH

Among online slang terms, smth is one of the easiest to use. Type it out instead of typing “something.” Don’t forget to write it in lowercase form. It cannot be used as a sentence on its own. Instead, it’s a way of adding nonchalant energy to your texts.

Here are a few ways to use smth in your sentences:

  • “I think that there’s smth wrong with my laptop.”
  • “I’m going to order Chinese food or smth.”
  • “Smth tells me that you haven’t showered yet today.”
  • “Did you just wake up or smth?”

If you want to learn about other online slang terms, be sure to check out our other pieces on ELI5 and NSFW.

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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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