What does “JK” stand for and how is it used?

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If you see “jk” in a message you just received, it’s a sign that you shouldn’t take it too seriously. Here’s what the acronym stands for and how you can use it to spice up a conversation.

“It’s a joke”


JK means “just kidding”. It is used to indicate that something you just said is a joke and should not be taken seriously. It can be said in response to someone’s reaction to your joke, or it can be said preemptively before the other person has responded.

JK is commonly written in lowercase “jk”. Depending on when a post was written, you may also find it written as “j/k” with a forward slash in the middle. It is often used in conjunction with other popular internet acronyms that denote laughter, such as LOL, ROFL, and LMAO. For example, you could text someone “lol jk” in response to their reaction to your prank.

From J/K to JK

JK is one of the earliest Internet acronyms to emerge, with roots stretching back to the earliest Internet chat rooms and continuing into instant messaging in the 2000s. The first definition of the acronym in the Urban Dictionary dates back to 2001, which says “Acronym. It’s a joke.”

Since its initial creation, the way the acronym is written has evolved. It used to be written “j/k” with a slash between the letters. However, in the last decade, the new generation of Internet users has mostly done away with the slash.

On the other hand, the way it is used has remained the same over time. It is still used to make it clear that something said is not to be taken so seriously, or to keep the conversation light. The phrase itself has been in use for a long time and has always had the same meaning, even before the invention of the acronym.

keep things light

In the same way that “lol” and “lmao” have become conversational staples on the Internet, even when no one is laughing, JK is often used to keep the conversation light. You can say “jk” to make a discussion about a serious topic seem less intense than it is, or to be able to provide feedback without appearing rude.

There are also specific scenarios where the acronym is used to back off an insult or to avoid offending another party. For example, suppose you say something that could be considered offensive or unwarranted. Then you could say “jk” to make them think you didn’t mean what you said. This could be the case even if you fully meant what you said.

Another way people use “jk” is for sarcasm. You could make a comment that you really mean and then use “jk” to imply that you were being sarcastic. While it’s nearly impossible to convey sarcasm over the internet, using jk is a decent substitute.

Other “JK”


A portrait photo of actor JK Simmons
American actor JK Simmons DFree/Shutterstock.com

Unlike other Internet acronyms, “JK” has some meanings that have nothing to do with the slang term.

There is a plethora of celebrities and personalities who are also named or nicknamed “JK”. These include Harry Potter author JK Rowling, American actor JK Simmons, and K-pop star Jeon Jungkook. So if you see the acronym “JK” on social media, especially Twitter, don’t immediately assume the person is referring to Internet slang. They could simply be referring to one of these famous personalities.

There is also a common misunderstanding of the acronym: that it means “joke” instead of “just kidding”. However, these two mean the same thing, which is not to take things so seriously.

How to use JK

As we’ve illustrated above, there are quite a few ways you can use “jk” to complete a thought. Here are some examples of the use of “jk”:

  • “When did you start being so responsible? jk.”
  • “I’m definitely not going to your birthday party. jk.”
  • “Nah, I don’t want to eat your cookies. JK, I bet they’re delicious!”
  • “That shade of green is horrible. LOL JK.”

If you want to explore other acronyms online, check out our articles on NSFW and TLDR. You’ll be texting like an internet native in no time!

RELATED: What does “TLDR” stand for and how is it used?



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