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You’re scrolling Twitter, and you see the words “MFW I spill my smoothie,” followed by an image of someone sobbing. What does this confusing tweet mean? Today, we’ll find out, along with its history and how to use it.

My Face and Reactions When

MFW and MRW stand for “my face when” and “my reaction when,” respectively. They’re used to convey how you react to a certain situation, normally using a funny, descriptive image or GIF. MRW and MFW are most commonly seen in internet memes to describe relatable situations and are often used on social media platforms like Twitter and on internet boards like Reddit.

These two are distinct from another similar and more recent acronym, TFW—which means “that feeling when.” Unlike MRW and MFW, which focus heavily on a visual reaction to something and are almost always accompanied by an image, TFW focuses on the experience of doing something instead. For example, saying “TFW you take a hot bath after spending 12 hours at work” is a TFW sentence on its own, as it conveys the relief of unwinding after a long day.

RELATED: What Is a GIF, and How Do You Use Them?

The Origin of MFW & TFW

Both of these acronyms are fairly recent, corresponding with the rise in meme culture. MFW and MRW were used frequently in online internet communities and message boards around the late 2000s to early 2010s. The first entries for MFW and MRW on Urban Dictionary were created in 2010 and 2012, respectively, suggesting that MFW became an internet staple before MRW.

Both were prominent in internet image boards, where most posts were heavily text-based, accompanied by a few images. They were meant to add a visual element to an interesting story and convey what the writer felt about a certain situation.

Since then, both have gained widespread adoption on social media, with many posts on Twitter starting with MRW and MFW, accompanied by an image or video. Some people also use these acronyms in text messages with friends, often accompanied by a selfie.

Faces vs. Reactions

For the most part, MRW and MFW are interchangeable because your “reaction” and “face” about a situation are essentially the same thing. However, there are some situations where one makes more sense than another.

Using MRW or “my reaction when” can be more appropriate if you’re using a clip of body language or someone’s verbal reaction to something. For example, you would accompany the text “MRW I think I see a ghost” with an image of someone screaming or jumping in fear. This is especially true of GIFs, which often depict people or characters having a visceral response to something around them.

On the other hand, MFW or “my face when” would be better if you’re specifically using an image or GIF of someone’s facial expression. Your face can often show exactly how you’re feeling about something. For example, you might post “MFW I see that the fridge is empty,” along with an image of someone looking annoyed. The more expressive the facial expression, the more effectively this meme works.

How to Use MFW & MRW

MFW and MRW memes follow a straightforward structure. First, begin a phrase with one of these two acronyms, followed by the event that you’re reacting to. Then, select an image that matches that reaction. It can be a GIF from your favorite movie, a funny stock image, or even a goofy photo of yourself!

For example, you might say, “MFW my phone dies after I forget to charge it overnight,” and then accompany it with the following image:

Woman looking at her phone with surprise

Here are a few other examples of MFW and MRW scenarios. You might even want to think of the kind of facial expressions you’d make while experiencing these.

  • “MFW I left home an hour ago and I suddenly remember that I forgot to flush the toilet.”
  • “MRW I find out that Windows 11 is coming.”
  • “MFW I realize I’ve had my mobile data turned on at home for the last six hours and I have a data cap.”
  • “MRW I managed to successfully bake oatmeal raisin cookies without burning them.”

Do you want to learn about a few other initialisms? Check out our pieces on TTYL, NVM, and OP.

RELATED: What Does "TTYL" 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.
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