What Is a Subtweet on Twitter?

Blue bird, representing Twitter, with a wry look

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On Twitter, we've got hashtags and retweets and really funny parody accounts. But have you heard of subtweets?

Subliminal Tweet

"Subtweet" is short for "subliminal tweet." In other words, it's a tweet about somebody that doesn't actually mention their @username or their real name.

It's supposedly a "safe" way to gossip about someone or reveal your real feelings about them in a way that keeps it somewhat vague and hidden enough that nobody will (probably) be able to figure out who you're talking about. You've probably seen a lot of these types of posts on Facebook and maybe other social networks too — you know, the really vague status updates or captions where the poster is clearly directing their message at someone but doesn't say who.

Of course, subtweets are most commonly used to say something negative about a person you can't say to their face. On the flip side, they're also useful if you admire somebody and are too shy to let them know. They give people a way to express themselves more genuinely, without being too open about it.

Whether you call it Twitter gossip or tweeting behind somebody's back, it's become pretty popular as Twitter has grown into a preferred medium to share things and have conversations — even if that means getting something off your chest about a certain somebody.

Subtweet Examples

Now let's take a look at how subtweets work. They're pretty self-explanatory, but here's a brief example just to show you how a subtweet might look.

First let's look at regular, non-subtweeted tweets. If you wanted somebody to see your critical tweet, you might say:

I didn't think @username's cupcakes were very delicious.

Obviously, no one would really say that unless they were looking to start a conflict. If you wanted to turn that into a subtweet so that the person you're referring to doesn't get a notification that you're tweeting about them but you still want to get that feeling off your chest by posting about it, you have the following three options.

You could still use their name without including their @username Twitter handle by saying:

I didn't think "username's" cupcakes were very delicious.

Alternatively, you could add even more mystery to your tweet by completely leaving out the person's name and replacing it with a more vague description, such as:

There's a guy that I follow on Twitter who just gave me a cupcake, and I didn't think it tasted very good.

Lastly, you could write the message as if it were directed to a person in a conversation, but just send it as a regular tweet. An example might be:

Your cupcakes are terrible. Please, for the sake of humanity, stop offering people baked goods that you made.

Kind of harsh, huh? Well, that's the way subtweeting works!

And there you have it. It's a pretty simple concept to understand, and it's become a pretty standard trend on Twitter and across social media platforms.


As always, be careful what you post on Twitter. Just because you don't mention a person's name or know that the person you're talking doesn't even have a Twitter account doesn't mean they won't eventually see what you tweet!