What Does FTW Mean?

Learn how to use this internet abbreviation

While participating in an online discussion forum about cars, you see comments such as, "anti-lock braking, ftw!" and "all-wheel-drive, ftw!' These types of comments also show up in an online gaming forum: "polymorph, ftw!" and "druid hurricane, ftw!" What's going on here?

FTW means "for the win," an internet cheer used to express enthusiasm around an achievement. It can be used in place of "epic win" and other expressions of victory.

FTW is usually spelled in all uppercase letters, but lowercase is also acceptable.

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When communicating by text, email, or chat, be careful not to type entire sentences in uppercase letters, as this is considered to be shouting, which is rude.

Examples of FTW Usage

  • "Finished my paper, spellchecker, ftw!"
  • "Lost 5 pounds, low-carb diet, ftw!"
  • "Love my new phone, iPhone ftw!"
  • "OMG we won! Hail Mary pass, ftw!"

Origin of FTW

This is unclear, but recurring online claims say FTW started around the year 2000 with the television game show Hollywood Squares, where contestants tried to complete a tic-tac-toe game. Players would declare their closing moves with such enthusiastic utterances as, "'I choose Whoopi Goldberg for the win!"

Similar Expressions

  • AMAZEBALLS (That's amazing)
  • Ermahgerd! (Oh my God!)
  • Epic Win (That's extreme and memorable)
  • OMG (Oh My God!)
  • AMG (Oh My God! variation)

Capitalizing and Punctuating Web and Text Abbreviations

Capitalization is a non-concern when using text abbreviations and chat jargon. Use all uppercase (FTW) or all lowercase (ftw) letters and the meaning is identical.

Proper punctuation is similarly a non-concern with most text message abbreviations. For example, "too long, didn't read" can be abbreviated as TL;DR or TLDR. Both are acceptable.

Never use periods (dots) between your acronym letters; it would defeat the purpose of being a shortcut. For example, ROFL would never be spelled R.O.F.L., and TTYL would never be T.T.Y.L. 

Recommended Etiquette for Web and Text Jargon 

When tempted to use jargon in messages, evaluate who your audience is, if the context is informal or professional, and then use good judgment. If you know someone well and it is a personal and informal communication, then absolutely use abbreviations. On the flip side, if you are just starting a friendship or professional relationship, avoid abbreviations until you've developed a rapport.

If messaging in a professional context with someone at work, or with a customer or vendor outside your company, avoid abbreviations altogether. Spelling out full words shows professionalism and courtesy. It is much smarter to err on the side of being too professional at first, and then relax your communication over time organically.