TBH is an abbreviation for “To Be Honest” mostly used in texts and online conversations.
It is mostly used before confessions, or other ways of telling one’s opinion on a topic, though nowadays it is most encountered in teenagers’ Instagram posts, looking to exchange their opinion on people for likes.
Like most acronyms in text speech, tbh originates with the upheaval of the internet and SMS messaging, in the late 90’s. The first Urban Dictionary entry on the expression was added in 2003, with several others added since then, reflecting on the more contemporary usage of the abbreviation.
In the following years, tbh had gained more popularity on the internet, being added to Wiktionary, as well as being published in a McAfee blog article about online slang. It had rapidly spread onto social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, where people use it up to this day as a means of getting free likes in exchange for their “honest opinion”.
By 2015, tbh had amassed such infamy on the internet, that on 4chan, users were subsequently bullied for using it, associating them with “summerfags”; underage children who are hanging out on the site instead of attending proper education.
- Business Insider – ‘Tbh’ no longer just stands for ‘to be honest’ on Instagram