Mature man with palms up and a confused expression.

Have you ever sent out an extremely long text, only to be met with a short “wdym?” Here’s what that internet acronym means and how you can use it to express your confusion.

What Do You Mean?

WDYM stands for “what do you mean?” It’s an acronym used in online chats and social media websites to ask someone to explain a message you don’t understand. It is less commonly spelled as “WYM” or “what you mean?” Like other acronyms that gained popularity in the age of direct messaging, people usually write it in the lowercase “wdym” instead of the uppercase.

For example, if your friend tells you, “Did you do the homework yet?” and you didn’t know that there was any homework at all, you might reply with “WDYM?” This allows you to express your confusion succinctly. This term is similar to several other internet acronyms we’ve covered in the past. The most obvious comparison is IDK, which means “I don’t know,” a similar term that can describe a state of confusion. There’s also IDGI or “I don’t get it,” a way of saying you don’t understand something.

On top of just asking for clarification, WDYM implies that what the other person is saying makes no sense or is blatantly incorrect. If someone tells you, “Did you know that Apple invented the first computer?” You might send back “WDYM,” not necessarily to learn more about the subject but to point out that what they’re saying is entirely wrong.

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

The History of WDYM

This is a more recent acronym than the other ones we’ve covered. Whereas many internet slang terms were born in the 90s and early 2000s, online evidence suggests that WDYM came to prominence in the late 2000s. The first definition of WDYM on online slang term repository Urban Dictionary came out in 2007 and reads, “What Do You Mean?”

WDYM’s history is aligned with the rise of SMS text messaging and direct messaging applications such as AOL Instant Messenger. As a result, it was a very popular acronym among teenagers at the time. Eventually, WDYM became a staple in internet conversations and social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok.

While the actual phrase “what do you mean” has been around for a long time, its recent popularity is because of its rise as an internet catchphrase. It’s the de facto way to clarify something you don’t understand, especially when you feel that someone is sending you mixed signals. Pop star Justin Bieber even wrote a song titled “What Do You Mean?” that discusses a romantic partner who isn’t making sense.

WDYM and Miscommunication

The biggest reason why WDYM is so ubiquitous on the internet is miscommunication. When you’re talking to someone else online, you should be aware of the fact that what you’re saying might not always come across how you want it to. Also, if you don’t choose your words correctly, you might just be confusing the person you’re messaging.

For example, let’s say you want to congratulate your new friend on getting a new job. You want to do it humorously, so you message, “Congrats on selling your soul to the devil!” Unfortunately, if they don’t understand what the joke is referring to, they might not respond to you, or worse, they might even find your message hurtful.

That’s why WDYM is a quick, easy way to clarify things and ensure that you’re both on the same page. If you’re having a conversation with someone and you’re not quite sure what they’re saying, then replying with “WDYM?” is always a good move.

There’s also a way to use WDYM that implies anger instead of confusion. For example, if someone sends you a potentially irritating comment, you might reply with “WDYM” to prompt them to explain themselves. This particular definition is similar to the phrase “what do you mean by that?” which is a typical response to someone being rude, often without them realizing it.

How to Use WDYM

If you want to add WDYM in your texts, simply use it to replace “What do you mean?” when you’re trying to clarify something confusing. You can write it in both uppercase or lowercase, however, the lowercase “wdym” is significantly more popular.

Here are a few examples of this internet slang term in action:

  • “I don’t get it, wdym?”
  • “WDYM by that?”
  • “Are you sure about that? wdym”
  • “You’re not making any sense, wdym?”

Do you want to learn a few other internet acronyms? Check out our pieces on LMK, SGTM, and TBH, and you’ll be a connoisseur of internet slang before you know it.

RELATED: What Does "LMK" 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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