FTW is a niche acronymic slang, although it’s been in use for a very long time. The initialism’s expansion shattered some notions of what it may have meant when mainstream users denoted it as ‘For The Win’ instead of F*ck The World. Well. It’s an acronym, it can literally mean anything you want, but that’s the expansion that’s largely in current use.
Some slang enthusiasts may have found this winning expansion to be a bitter disappointment given its non-inappropriateness and naiveness. But, the truth is FTW resonates more generally with a positive cheer than a niche A-rated negation of everything. Let’s keep adulting from ruining ambition.
Where Did FTW Come From?
For The Win has an obscure history. There are several claims on the internet referring to FTW being used at different points in history. We suspect the amalgamation of all these use cases to have blown up on the internet, therefore keeping it alive for as long as it has. Here are the claims we have so far about FTW:
- FTW was part of the script of the American television show, Hollywood Squares (1966 – 1981). The show was about getting three squares in a row to win, and contestants had to use ‘For The Win’ before mentioning the square they were going for. This seems to be the earliest use-case of the expression.
- But then, ‘For The Win’ is also a known expression on the football or rugby field — and both games are a lot older than Hollywood Squares. The phrase is generally used during conversion or ‘Points After Touchdown’ (PAT). When the team has the chance to kick or run the ball for 1 or 2 points respectively, the phrase of ‘Go For The Win’ is often part of the aggressive encouragement during this time.
- The last claim of the origins of FTW is video games. This claim may be valid, but it cannot be the ‘origin’ of the slang. Video games are a very recent part of entertainment and in the face of the claims mentioned above, this one doesn’t stand the chance to be the origin story. Nevetheless, ‘For The Win’ is said to have been widely used in First Person Shooter (FPS) games during the early 2000s.
For The Win: Just Another Sporty Cheer?
As the expansion and its supposed history explain, FTW is a winning expression. It has been around in the form of encouragement, cheer, or sometimes as a declaration of victory. FTW continues to be used in the same manner online as well. Here, the acronym is a positive, uplifting cheer and also a manner of counting on something or someone.
Considering the words in FTW and its record in sports, the acronym may be confusingly limited to sports alone. But, it shouldn’t be! Although it’s seen a little more in sports than in any other context, FTW is applicable anywhere there’s a win or a chance to win. Additionally, there’s another interesting angle to FTW and its use-case online.
Slang is not always used literally on social media, and that statement includes FTW as well. There’s a lot of metaphorical application for the acronymic slang. Sometimes, FTW is used as an optimistic and empowering slogan for anything that’s flaunt or flex worthy, or to simply announce something about oneself or others. This application can expand to both the animate and the inanimate. Here, FTW acts as an empowering cheer that can genuinely or sarcastically highlight something, someone, or something about someone.
Another way FTW appears is as an exclamation for something superlative. If it’s ‘best’ and along those lines, it’s mostly an honest FTW and if it’s in the context of the opposite, then, it’s an honest statement of mockery or sarcasm. This use-case also follows the route of applying FTW in the context of achievements (in any tense). If something or someone did/is doing/will do something great/embarrassingly so, that too is an FTW moment.
How to Use FTW Online?
FTW, as far as the explanation above goes, can be used in more contexts than just cheering and for sports in particular (which is a prominent use case of the slang). You can insert FTW to stress a quality, attribute, something that’s nice about you, on you, for you — and the same for someone or something else among other use cases.
The acronymic slang is more versatile than it used to be. However, it’s not very flexible when it comes to placement. FTW is generally placed at the end of a sentence. You could park it at different locations but that may read a little odd on the other end.
Cheering is a significant part of FTW. In fact, FTW was created for this purpose. The slang implies that you’re rooting for something or someone. It could be a person, an organization, an institution, a team, or yourself and parts of yourself too! For example, ‘(this Football team) FTW!’, ‘My endless streak of making limitless assumptions FTW!’, ‘Henry’s rigid measurements FTW!’ (random cartoon reference from Oswald).
While using FTW to cheer, the receiving end needn’t always have a fruitful consequence. Sometimes, you can use FTW just to cheerfully accentuate something or someone — without an actual competition at stake. This use-case is to simply cheer for an evident aspect for cheer’s sake — as an act of encouragement.
A sarcastic FTW
You could also get sarcastic (like Henry’s example) while encouraging with FTW. However, there’s an important criterion. When the statement is directed to anyone other than yourself, make sure the context has already been internalized and acknowledged as part(s) of the other person(s) before you picked on it in a fun way.
This way, that comment/statement/response is taken as sarcasm and not mockery. Like, ‘The neighbor’s constant complains about our dogs FTW!’. Also, remember the rules of sarcasm — make it funny. If not, it could be a mockery. Unless you DO want to mock. Then, scroll a bit.
Emphasizing quality or quantity
If FTW is not being used to cheer, it’s probably being applied to emphasize. Apart from an encouraging cheer, FTW can also be used to attract attention to the quality of a thing/person, or quantity, in general.
When we say ‘For The Win’ we’re implying that that aspect of something or someone is either on the way to victory or has already won. And sometimes, this ‘winning’ is metaphorical. It’s like saying everybody is a winner. This use case is on a positive note — unless made otherwise.
Like, ‘Tom’s hilarious face FTW!’, ‘The number of people who wouldn’t get this joke, FTW!’, ‘OMG. My surgical nose FTW!!’, or ‘Your hair totes FTW tonight, gurl’.
This can be the actual ‘bet’ where money is gambled on something (or someone) or the figure of speech where you bet something. In other words, FTW can be used while ‘betting’ and ‘betting on’ or counting on something or someone.
You could also expand the use case to figurative contexts along with literal applications. If you’re using this angle with FTW, it’s sensible to ditch the word ‘bet’ as FTW itself will take the lead. For example, ‘(that horse) FTW!’, ‘Oh, dude. Dad’s quick as hell. His key lime pie is FTW!!’, ‘Grandma FTW!’, or ‘WWF FTW!’.
Mockery– The sarcastic side of FTW
Sarcasm is big in any conversational framework. It’s more than just a “trend” now. It’s a manner of speaking, cleverly communicating, and many times, a great way to spit facts; humorously. But when things aren’t funny (or darkly so), it can be a mockery.
To mock is not always a bad thing. It can be a tool especially when directed to something/someone deserving. Mockery, as opposed to sarcasm, may not always be taken as positively and FTW can help shift that a little. While cheering, emphasizing, and encouraging, you can use FTW to “humorously” mock the same — provided it hurts no one and leaves nobody feeling bitter, humiliated, or offended. Unless that’s the plan.
FTW may sound like a “millennial thing”, but this mode of cheering has been on for years. For The Win is a compact way of cheering for, encouraging, empowering, standing up for, and counting on something or someone.
It works equally great with a pinch (or bottle) of sarcasm as well (assuming it would be taken well). So, if you’re rooting for anything regardless of whether there’s a competition or not, you can use FTW!