IYKYK Hashtag Yellow Background
Vann Vicente
IYKYK stands for "If you know, you know." IYKYK is used to acknowledge that there is an inside joke or reference in a post that is difficult or impossible to understand unless you already have the context to understand the reference.

If you’re not in the know about the newest internet acronyms, you may not have heard of “IYKYK.” Read on to find out what this elusive term is and how to use it.

If You Know, You Know

IYKYK stands for “if you know you know.” This acronym implies that a post or message will make sense to some people and make no sense to others. Often, the post will have some callback to a particular experience that will instantly stand out to those who are “in the know.” It can be written in both the uppercase IYKYK and the lowercase “iykyk.”

IYKYK is often typed as a hashtag added to the caption of a picture or video, especially on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. For example, someone might post a video of themselves at a party with the caption, “Last night was crazy! #iykyk.” This implies that something specific happened at that gathering that only the people there will understand.

This is similar to an “inside joke,” which is a funny anecdote that only a couple of friends will understand. They both imply that there is some inside knowledge that makes something amusing.

Where IYKYK Comes From

Unlike many internet slang terms that we cover on this site, “IYKYK” is a recent invention. The acronym and phrase first appeared on Urban Dictionary in December of 2016, well into the social media age. It started appearing in social media posts earlier that year before becoming a popular acronym several years later.

One of the things that helped launch the acronym into the mainstream is a 2018 song by the American rapper Pusha T titled “If You Know You Know.” In 2020, IYKYK became even more popular because of a rapidly growing TikTok hashtag, where users would make videos for specific audiences. The term peaked on Google Trends in early 2020.

RELATED: Why Is TikTok So Popular? Why the Social Network Is Unique

References to… Something

So what exactly should one “know” to be in the know? It depends on who’s posting. If it’s on a large, public platform like TikTok or Twitter, the content is likely trying to appeal to a specific but large audience.

If the post refers to a specific type of activity or hobby, you would understand if you engaged in that hobby. For example, if someone posts a video with the caption “Music production woes #iykyk,” it may make sense to you if you also produce music. It also applies to a fanbase for a piece of media, like a TV show or video game.

Another typical example of an IYKYK scenario is a shared experience among an age group or upbringing. For example, someone might post, “When I’m in virtual class and my camera is turned off #iykyk.” While the content of this post might make perfect sense to a teenager who went to school during virtual classes, it might not make any sense for someone who never experienced that.

Not For Everyone

Instagram app open on a smartphone displaying stories and live feeds.

When someone uses IYKYK on a more private feed, such as their Instagram stories, then they are likely hinting at a specific group of their friends and acquaintances. These posts are normally associated with a specific shared experience with other people. To put it simply, if you were there, you’d understand. If not, you wouldn’t.

For example, if you’ve been hopping on Zoom movie nights with your friends for the past few days, something funny might have happened in one of those calls. Therefore, you might post an Instagram story that references the incident, along with “IYKYK” as a subtle wink at your friends. If one of your other friends didn’t show up to the call, they likely wouldn’t understand the reference.

How to Use IYKYK

If you want to use IYKYK, make a social post with a subtle hint to an event, experience, or shared interest that not everyone shares. Don’t give away too much, or the post will cease to be a fun, inside reference between you and others.

Here are a few ways you can add IYKYK to your captions:

  • “This trip to Vegas was definitely special. #IYKYK”
  • “When the season finale turns out crazier than you expected #iykyk”
  • “Well, I’m never going on dating apps again. IYKYK.”

If you want to learn about other online slang terms, check out our articles on TIHI, BRB, and TTYL.

RELATED: What Does "BRB" 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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