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Casimiro PT/Shutterstock.comNSFW is an odd, versatile mạng internet acronym that’s found its way into internet articles and social truyền thông media posts. But what does NSFW mean, where’d it come from, & how bởi you use it? Don’t worry—this article is SFW.


Not Safe for Work

The acronym NSFW stands for “not safe for work.” When used correctly, NSFW is a warning that indicates a link to a webpage, video, photo, or audio clip contains inappropriate content. Although the word is usually associated with pornography, it’s often used as a warning label for violent, foul, offensive, or even politically charged content.

Despite its literal meaning (not safe for work), the NSFW acronym is used to lớn save you from any kind of public embarrassment (or, you know, from traumatizing your kids). You may see it in the title of a YouTube video, in the header of an email, or before an outgoing liên kết on a trang web or news article.


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In some cases, NSFW is used khổng lồ indicate that a webpage may make you uncomfortable—that’s how broad of a word we’re dealing with. In these situations, NSFW is sometimes accompanied by a “trigger word” or “TW” label. A đoạn phim that contains detailed images of war, for example, may be labeled “NSFW TW: War,” or something to that effect.


More mạng internet Phrases
Internet SlangLOL · LMK · TBH · IDK · JK · NSFW · BTW · IDC · TBF · TLDR · Yeet · FOMO · IRL · FWIW · SMH · IIRC · TIL · ICYDK · AFK · NVM · ICYMI · HMU · IKR · AMA · GG · TTYL · HBU · LMAO · ROFL · IYKYK · YSK · SUS · TMI · TFW · NGL · OP · VPN · NBD
NetworkingISP, LAN, WAN, IPv4, & others
Browse our full collection of internet abbreviations!

NSFW Etymology

Avoiding inappropriate nội dung used to lớn be a relatively easy task. Movies carried an R rating, dirty magazines were marked as such, and The Maury Show opened with a warning that you should kick any children out of the room ASAP.

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But in the age of the internet, anyone can create content. And as you’d expect, people rarely feel the need to mark their photos, videos, và webpages as inappropriate. (To be fair, people usually post their “inappropriate” content in communities where said nội dung is actually considered appropriate.)

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Yiorgos GR/Shutterstock.com

From this angle, NSFW looks lượt thích a modern incarnation of “This show contains scenes that may offend some viewers.” và while that may be how it’s used now, the word actually came about as a response to a very specific problem.

As reported by VICE, the word NSFW extends from the culture of the Snopes.com’s forum. Back in 1998, a woman came on the diễn đàn to complain that users should label inappropriate posts as “NFBSK” — “not for British school kids.” Maybe she should’ve bought a copy of the Net Nanny software.


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Anyway, this complaint turned into a Snopes in-joke, which was so gosh dang funny that Snopes decided to create a NFBSK forum. (Don’t bother looking for it; it’s basically a yearlong South Park episode.)

NFBSK became popularized as a joke, but it addressed a serious problem that other words failed to lớn describe. The mạng internet is dirty, but it’s everywhere. Over time, NFBSK slowly made its way into myriad forums and chatrooms. It simplified into “NSFW,” & hey, now it’s in the Webster’s dictionary!

When vày You Say NSFW?

Unlike some other internet jargon, using the word NSFW is very easy. You can use it as a label, or you can use it as a literal acronym in a sentence. That’s all there is to it.


As a label, NSFW is only useful if it comes before the inappropriate nội dung you’re sending. It belongs in the header of an email, Reddit post, or website. And although websites like YouTube lượt thích to autoplay videos, adding “NSFW” khổng lồ the title of inappropriate videos is still a good idea.

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And yes, you should vì chưng this for text messages, too. Just địa chỉ “NSFW” lớn messages that contain liên kết to inappropriate content. If you’re attaching photos or videos to lớn a message, ask the recipient if they can receive NSFW nội dung before you hit that send button. (If you think this will make them uncomfortable, you probably shouldn’t be sending them inappropriate content anyway.)

As a literal acronym, you simply use NSFW where it fits grammatically as “not safe for work.” If someone sends you a link, for example, you could ask, “Is this NSFW?”


We mentioned the phrase SFW (safe for work) earlier in this article. Like, NSFW, the word SFW can be used as a label or as a literal acronym. You can label messages, emails, or link as SFW, & you can ask your friends questions like, “Is this SFW?”

Now that you know how lớn recognize & use the word NSFW, why not expand your mạng internet vocabulary with some other freaky words? lượt thích NSFW, acronyms lượt thích TLDR & FOMOare regularly used in news articles & on your favorite social truyền thông media outlets. They’re worth knowing, and don’t worry, they’re SFW.


Andrew HeinzmanAndrew Heinzman writes for How-To Geek and reviews Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing và image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, & complicated explainers. Read Full Bio »
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