“TBH” has been around for a long time, but what does TBH mean? Even if you know its original meaning, you may be unaware that this old term now has a couple of new meanings.
So, what does TBH mean, and what are the different ways of using it? In this article, we’ll explain all, helping you use the term correctly so you don’t embarrass yourself on social media.
What Does TBH Mean?.. “To Be Honest”
The most popular use of the initialism TBH is, “To Be Honest.” This explanation sounds simple enough, but its usage and meaning can change depending on what website you’re on.
How to Use “To Be Honest” As a Phrase
Using TBH as a phrase is the oldest and most traditional use of the initialism. There isn’t anything special about this term or any special rules for using it. This is what TBH means on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, in text messages, emails, and on forums. Whenever you’d type out the full phrase “to be honest,” you can instead replace it with “TBH”.
You’ll usually find this initialism at the start or end of a sentence. It can be typed in either lowercase or upper-case, or have the T capitalized at the beginning of the sentence. People rarely put dots between the letters, so don’t worry about doing that.
TBH’s primary use is to declare that a statement is coming from the honesty of the person speaking it. Its usage can range from snarky attacks to humble self-reflection. It can also be used jokingly when the poster isn’t genuinely being honest but uses the acronym for added comedic effect.
this is better than any other option tbh https://t.co/L6wveANs8W
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) January 12, 2016
You can use this version of TBH anywhere you like. TBH is recognized internet-wide, from message boards to social media. If you’re typing something in a casual setting, feel free to drop a TBH, should the need arise.
TBH is very similar to the other internet term, “In My Opinion” (IMO). IMO can also be used at the beginning or end of a sentence to signal that the user is giving their honest opinion on a topic.
imo war is bad and should be avoided, but you don’t need my opinion any more than I need yours so let’s all agree to go read some real reporting by reputable outlets (on why war is bad and should be avoided).
— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) January 3, 2020
You may also see TBH’s close cousin “To Be Fair” (TBF) on social media posts or forums. This is when someone is giving an honest take that’s typically playing devil’s advocate to a statement or opinion.
— Steven Kokshoorn (@StevePharma) January 3, 2020
How to Use “To Be Honest” As a Noun
If you venture onto Instagram, you’ll see that TBH takes on another meaning. Users will use TBH as if it were a noun; for example, “like for a tbh” or “I’ll give you a tbh.” So, what does TBH mean on Instagram?
On Instagram, TBH still keeps its meaning of “To Be Honest.” However, to “give a tbh” means to give an opinion on someone’s appearance or personality.
People will often post images that say “like for a tbh.” This means that whoever gives the picture a like will receive a compliment in return. When used for complimenting, TBH typically goes at the very start of the sentence (“tbh I love your hair”).
Some may argue that a TBH Instagram post goes against the true meaning of “To Be Honest,” as people are dissuaded from criticism. Some Instagram users, however, won’t give a TBH if they don’t have anything nice to say about the requester, which they believe is honest enough to fit the original meaning of TBH.
If a user is looking for something more genuine, they may ask for a “tbh and rate.” This is where the original poster rates the commenter out of 10, and gives them a first impression in the form of a TBH. Due to the scoring nature of this request, the TBH will be more honest than complimentary.
A brave user may ask for a “tbh, rate, and date.” This is the same as above, but the replier will also state if they’d date the person or not.
Instagram is full of terms related to the platform and the users who use it, and it can be confusing for a newcomer. Be sure to study up on the common Instagram terms everyone should know to understand what people mean.
What Does TBH Mean?.. “To Be Heard”
Some users also report that TBH stands for “to be heard.” It’s not as common as “to be honest,” but it can be found if you look hard enough.
In this instance, TBH is used to indicate a post of someone who wants to be heard. This can be a personal problem or an issue with the world that they want to bring up and receive recognition for.
I feel like an alien when I go back home for holidays and everyone in my family has their families now and hangs together. I wish they would include me. #tbh
— Ryan Kiser (@ryanmkiser) December 25, 2019
However, this usage of TBH isn’t as well-known as the other two. As such, if you do use TBH to mean “to be heard,” you may confuse users who think it means “to be honest”. Which is something to bear in mind.
How to Understand Internet Lingo Better
TBH is an excellent example of how initialisms can grow and develop over time. While people mostly know that it means “to be honest,” not many know of its unique usage on Instagram or its alternate meaning of “to be heard”.
If reading your social media feed feels like you’re trying to crack the Enigma code, be sure to learn the trendy internet acronyms and slang words used across the internet.