How to Properly Use the Slang Term 'Derp'

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You've likely seen derp or durp on Facebook pages, Reddit links, or meme photos. You often see this expression paired with a photo of a stupefied animal or a person with a stunned facial expression. This modern derogatory expression is a version of stupid and is a close cousin of the derogatory ermagherd expression.

Derp is the same as durp. It refers to a stupid action or stupid person.

The expression is thought to come from the late 1990s when South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone made a film called "Baseketball," and during a particularly crass scene, a character yells "derp!"

How to Use the Expression

Derp is best used in one of three ways:

  • To insinuate a person is being a moron
  • To accuse someone of failing to see the obvious
  • To exclaim when you've just done a stupid thing yourself

How to Capitalize and Punctuate Web Terms and Abbreviations

Capitalization is a nonconcern when you use text message abbreviations and social media jargon. You are welcome to use all uppercase (DERP) or all lowercase (derp), and the meaning is identical. Avoid typing entire sentences in uppercase, though, as that means shouting in online speak.

Proper punctuation is similarly a nonconcern with most text message abbreviations. For example, the abbreviation for Too Long, Didn't Read can be abbreviated as TL;DR or as TLDR. Both are acceptable with or without punctuation.

Never use periods (dots) between your jargon letters. It would defeat the purpose of speeding up thumb typing. For example, DERP would never be D.E.R.P.

Recommended Etiquette for Using Web and Texting Jargon 

Knowing when to use jargon in your messaging is about knowing your audience, knowing if the context is informal or professional, and then using good judgment. If you know someone well, and it is a personal and informal communication, then absolutely use social media jargon. However, if you are just starting a friendship or professional relationship with a person, then it is a good idea to avoid jargon terms and abbreviations until you have developed a relationship rapport.

If the messaging is in a professional context with someone at work or with a customer or vendor outside your company, then avoid jargon altogether. Using full word spellings shows professionalism and courtesy. It is much easier to err on the side of being too professional and then relax your communications over time than doing the reverse.