Slang 101: What Does TBH Mean?


Even before social media began to popularize among individuals around the world, there were various slang trends here and there. For example, there’s a recurring slang that we all use in our daily conversations; “Sup?”. Say you met your friend at your high school during the lunch break. You see each other and then begin walking towards each other. After your greetings you begin the conversation with “Sup?, dude?”. For someone who is not used to hearing this slang a lot, they just might get confused. So, you might wonder what did your friend just say? If you are not well integrated in the high school culture you just might end up thinking its an insult or mockery. But, it’s really not. Sup? is a shortened version of What’s up? whereas What’s up? itself is a slang for How are you and What is going on?. Do you see how just a three letter word can hold a larger conversation starter? Well, that’s the power of slang words. In this article however, we will be focusing on the most popular slang on social media- TBH. We’ll begin with what does TBH mean and move on to the variations and how you can use TBH in your daily activity!

Imagine this- You have a group on WhatsApp where you regularly connect with your group of friends. Now in this group you are someone who is used to proper English or American language words. When you type something, you do not usually opt for abbreviations. Instead, if you wish to say Oh! My God, you refrain from using “OMG”. But of course, in your group of friends, you always have that one friend who loves using slang words. Whether its a conversation about their pet, their exams, or their crushes, they would always go for the trending abbreviations and slang words. Then, in one of the conversations, that one friend begins to express a deeper emotion. However, their sentences begin with TBH. You sit back on your sofa with your phone in your hand and a confused look on your face. You want to understand what your friend is saying but that caps-lock troubles you. Do you wish to know what does TBH mean then? It’s simple. TBH is an abbreviation for “to be honest”. Yes, while that is what TBH stands for, the true meaning for TBH changes from time to time. While we have answered your question, we have not really answered it truly. So, we must move on to deeply understand what does TBH mean.

Unlike many other words in the dictionary of American English, slang does not come from academia. Rather, slang is “pexted”- another slang that means slang is penned during texting/talking with one another. With time, these slangs become popular. Just like that, slangs turn into a global language- everyone understands them. At times, slangs are also made part of dictionaries. A good example here is the slang “Selfie” which has now been added to Oxford Dictionary! That’s how far the internet and its influence have reached.

Today, TBH is usually used in everyday conversations, especially when one wishes to exaggerate and intensify their statement. Often times you use TBH with your relatives, friends or families as a way of getting closer in the relationship and sharing honest secrets, opinions, compliments and so on. As an example, you can picture this- “So here you are chatting in a WhatsApp group with your close friends, about the latest hot topic, you just came off of surfing twitter and you saw the #metoo campaign rage on like a fire and you have a whole lot to say, but you just don’t know how to begin, you’re so full of opinions but just can’t start to word them properly, you’re thinking on how to speak your mind, to get across what your saying and you need to catch the attention of your friends already chatting away about the latest Taylor swift music video, when without even knowing you type out “TBH I can’t believe I didn’t know that there are so many people across the globe who face the same thing as we do! It’s so reassuring that I’m not alone in being so brutally objectified by some of the people around me and I feel so comforted by all these strong women and men sharing their experiences.” And it all comes rolling out. Quick and easy in three short letters the hardest part is over and you and typing up a storm, your thoughts organised and being realized into words that are making perfect sense. You send your message and you know that it was just that easy. And as you expected, your friends read your TBH piece and they know it’s coming from your heart and they are there. And that TBH has now successfully started a meaningful discussion with your friends, and you are sharing your opinions with many more TBH’s talking about your thoughts in the matter.”

In olden days however,  if you wished to disagree or be sarcastic about someone, you would begin your conversations with TBH. Previously, over the internet if someone wished to be absolutely honest about their opinion regarding something, they usually began their statements with TBH and acronyms that meant something closer to “to be honest”. The difference between today’s use of TBH and the olden meaning of TBH was that the latter used to be more negative. In order to support this piece of information then, we can go through a list of similar to TBH slang words that were quite popular over the internet. These will then help understand what does TBH mean:

  • The acronym “JMHO” is shortened for “Just My Humble Opinion”
  • The acronym “OTHO” still stands for “On the Other Hand”
  • Whereas, the acronym “FWIW” is shortened for “For What It’s Worth”
  • Then, there are other versions of TBH that you can use whether you mean to suggest something negative or whether you simply wish to compliment something:
  • “TBTH” is an acronym that means “To Be Totally Honest…”
  • “TBQH” on the other hand Is an acronym that means “To Be Quite Honest…”
  • Then. “TBPH” is shortened for “To Be Completely Honest…”
  • Moving on, “TBBH” stands for “…To Be Brutally Honest”
  • “MHO” then stands for “My Honest Opinion…”
  • You can also use “LBH” that stands for “Let’s Be Honest and Loser Back Home…”
  • You can also begin a conversation with “JBH” which is shortened for “Just Being Honest”.
  • To add to our list here, “IMAHO” is an acronym which means “In My Absolute Honest Opinion…”
  • Over the internet, you will also find “IHDK” which is a shortened form of “I honestly Don’t Know”
  • Lastly, you have “2BH” and this acronym stands for “To Be Honest” as well.

But what does TBH mean on social media now? TBH is now transforming into something new. While TBH is still used in normal conversations, that trend is “old school”. Modern day TBH has turned into a hashtag on Instagram and a status chain on Facebook. The most common thread in between these two social media applications is that modern day TBH is usually used for complimenting each other.  Let’s explore Instagram’s TBH hashtags first then.

On Instagram, many users upload and share pictures of “comment for a TBH” or “TBH for a follow” as well as “Like for a TBH”. This simply means that once you take part in the given activity, you will receive the same. Then, if you liked a post, you will receive a like on your own posts and if you commented on a post, you will receive a comment on your own post as well.

While we’re answering what does TBH mean, we should elaborate on this further. On Facebook especially. TBH statuses are shared by various profiles. Once you comment on these statuses you are enrolled in a list of individuals who will either receive a TBH on their Facebook wall or Facebook inbox. This helps you connect with your friends further, find out what other people think of you and well, it also boosts your self-confidence. TBH is not only limited to your friend circle now.  You can forward TBH to anyone you like, know about or do not speak to at all. A perfect example for this trend that is usually shared when Facebook users are bored is as following:

Facebook User Status: “Comment below and receive a TBH from me now!”

Once someone comments on this status they can receive something similar or other than the following:

“TBH: You have nice hair and you seem very friendly. We should meet up sometime!”

Well then, there you go! These are all the shades of TBH when it comes to answering what does TBH mean. TBH stands for the same thing however, with context the essence of TBH can change. If you mean to be sarcastic, TBH can mean that you are going to say something that is very straightforward. On the other hand then, if you mean to be positive, TBH can mean you wish to boost someone’s self-esteem over the internet. Either way, we hope you have no learned what TBH is.

And, TBH we are glad you read this article with us!

Written by Clarice

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