A neon sign featuring the initialism GTFO.

GTFO is one of the internet’s oldest insults, and it’s still being thrown around to this day. Here’s what this aggressive initialism means and where you can use it appropriately.

Get the F*** Out

GTFO means “get the f*** out.” It’s an insult directed at someone you consider annoying, stupid, or actively trolling. Alternatively, you can use it to describe something or someone that’s entirely unwelcome in a space, such as spam or graphic content.

As with other acronyms, GTFO is acceptable in both uppercase and lowercase. However, depending on the context, “gtfo” tends to be more relaxed, whereas “GTFO” can seem more agitated. This term is closely related to STFU or “shut the f*** up.” In some scenarios, you can use these two terms interchangeably.

The Origin of GTFO

The actual phrase, “get the f*** out,” has been around for a long time in America, with many appearances in movies and books throughout the late 20th century. However, the acronym version emerged at around the same time as other internet slang terms—during the 1990s and early 2000s, when internet relay chat became popular.

It then found its way to early internet forums like 4Chan, before landing on modern social media sites like Reddit and Twitter. The earliest definition of GTFO on Urban Dictionary was written in December 2002 and reads, “Insulting: Get the F*** Out,” with the example “GTFO & STFU, noob.”

This definition gives us some insight into one environment where these internet insults were very common: gaming. MMORPGs such as Everquest and World of Warcraft began gaining mainstream popularity in the 2000s, which inevitably led to millions of people openly hurling these terms at each other during gameplay.


Internet “Spaces” and GTFO

Since GTFO means “get the f*** out,” what exactly does “out” mean? The acronym connects to the idea of internet “spaces,” which are pockets of the internet where people interact. These spaces could be a Reddit comments section, a Twitter thread, or even an entire website. Since GTFO can sound very harsh, this acronym is more common in spaces where the accounts are primarily anonymous, such as Reddit or stan Twitter.

For the most part, the acronym shouldn’t be taken literally. People mostly use it to express strong disagreement or resentment at someone else’s words. However, if these users are in internet spaces, then saying GTFO may imply that they want the other person to exit from the thread or website.

That’s why you commonly see a “GTFO” message triggering a pile-on, which is a horde of people rushing to express their anger or disappointment at someone. You’ll also see it as a response to people not contributing to a conversation, such as spammers or trolls.

Getting Out, Fast

Don’t worry. GTFO isn’t always for petty internet arguments. When used in personal conversations, GTFO typically means that you or someone else needs to get out of somewhere as soon as possible.

For example, if you hate your job, you might message your friend, “I’m so sick of my job, I need to gtfo.” This implies that you’re frustrated with your career, and you’d like to leave as soon as possible. If you’re trying to rush your friend, you might tell them, “Hey, gtfo as soon as you can.” This means you’re telling them to leave their house as soon as they can.

Alternatively, GTFO can also be used to tell someone that you’re in disbelief at what they’re saying. People have been saying “get out of here” to describe something shocking or crazy for a long time, and this definition carries over to the acronym form. For example, if someone tells you that they just got promoted, you might message them, “Wow! GTFO, that’s amazing!” While this message may seem unpleasant at first glance, this message is a positive response to good news.

How to Use GTFO

If you want to use GTFO in your posts or messages, message with “GTFO,” and they’ll almost instantly understand what you’re saying. You should avoid using this acronym all the time, as you may risk looking rude or hostile.

Here are a few ways to use GTFO;

  • “I told you to GTFO.”
  • “GTFO. We don’t want any spammers here.”
  • “I had gtfo of there as soon as I could.”
  • “Dude! Gtfo, that’s crazy.”

Do you want to learn about other internet slang terms? Check out our pieces on BRB, AFK, and NSFW, and you’ll have a complete online vocabulary in no time.

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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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