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language of tumblr

alksjdf;lksfd: the language of Tumblr

In the world of social media, nothing remains static for too long. The same is true for language, so it’s not surprising that Internet language is ever evolving. In the case of the microblogging platform Tumblr, their community of users employs a special set of terminology to describe various actions and features on the site, common memes, and community members. Tumblr speak is often hyperbolic in nature and usually associated with fandoms. Whether you’re reblogging What Should We Call Me or tracking “oxford university press” tag, learning the language of Tumblr is essential in order to navigate the platform and have fun. Here’s a guide to some important terms you’ll need to know to understand the world of Tumblr:


Before you start your own blog, review some important features you need to know

Dashboard: your default home screen on Tumblr. Here you’ll find different posting options (text, photo, quote, link, video, etc.) and live updates from blogs that you’re following. You’ll also find a list of your current followers, the posts that you liked, a list of blogs that you’re following, your inbox, settings, and a featured blog from Tumblr Radar.

Ask Box: a page or widget on your tumblr that allows you to communicate directly with followers and other visitors. It is typically used to ask questions or to request feedback.

Tag: a small label usually seen at the bottom of a Tumblr post. Tags are used to categorize posts under a certain subject, phrase, or word.

Hashtag: while more commonly associated with Twitter, a hash symbol appears before a tag on Tumblr.

Tracked tags: this feature allows you to search for posts under a certain label and to later receive updates about posts related to that specific label by clicking the ‘track’ button after performing a search.

Featured tags: using a featured tag enables you to showcases Tumblr posts that are chosen by Tumblr staff and community members.

Spotlight: a featured blog board organized by subject and curated by Tumblr staff.

Storyboard: similar to Spotlight boards, this particular board is also a curated collection. Unlike Spotlight, this board collects and organizes posts instead of entire blogs.

Explore: this feature allows you to view which tags are popular on Tumblr, the level of activity (or how many posts are made under a certain tag), and who is editing the tag.


Once you have finished familiarizing yourself with Tumblr, here’s what you need to know to start posting:

Reblog: to repost a blog post from another user onto your own blog. Usually this is done to showcase a post that you like.

Reply: to write something in response to another user’s Tumblr post. Sometimes a reply comes in the form of a message attached to a reblog.

Follow: to subscribe to another user’s blog. Once you choose to follow someone, you will automatically receive new blog posts from the blog on your dashboard.

Queue: to sequence upcoming blog posts to appear automatically on your blog at a time you chose to schedule.

Post: to publish either an original message or reblog from another user on Tumblr.

Community members

Tumblr has a reputation for being a platform that encourages users to build communities around similar interests. Here are some Tumblr community terms to keep in mind:

Follower: a user that subscribes to another user’s blog. You can find your followers on the right hand sidebar of the dashboard.

Tumblarian: a librarian who blogs on Tumblr, as discussed in a recent post.

Tumblrite: a member of the Tumblr community

Tumblr Friends: users that befriend each other on Tumblr.

Tumblrhood: a group of Tumblr users who regularly interact with each other because of a shared interest or fandom.


Memes play a large role in Tumblr language, to the point that sometimes all that’s needed to express a message is an image or a gif. Other memes include humorous short messages that are meant to express a specific reaction to other users, like shock or excitement.

Meme: a funny image or short message that is either created or edited by users to share on websites and blogs.

I Can’t Even or I Can’t: the state of being overwhelmed, often by an emotion.

What is air?: a phrase to demonstrate when a user finds something very funny (a person is out of breath that they are laughing so hard).

Too many feels: a phrase indicating that the writer is feeling overwhelmed (“too many feelings”).

;alksjdf;lksfd: a feeling of great enthusiasm or excitement over a certain subject (as though the user were pressing the keyboard indiscriminately).


Tumblr users tend to express their reactions through short messages; sometimes those messages take the form of acronyms.

GIF: an animated photo that is often used to express a range of emotions, scenes from a popular TV show, or movie.

TL;DR: this acronym (Too Long; Don’t Read) is included by a user to tell other users that their post will be very long.

SMH: an acronym for the words “shake my head.” It’s usually used to express disappointment or dissatisfaction over something.

GPOY: this acronym stands for the words “gratuitous picture of yourself.” On Tumblr, the GPOY images are images of the user or images related to the user’s current state of mind.

IAWTC: this is the acronym for the words “I Agree With This Comment” and is used simply to express approval for another user’s posts.

With all of those terms in mind, you’re now ready to dive into the world of Tumblr. Since the language of the internet tends to change and redefine itself at any given moment, here are a few more resources to help you keep up-to-date with the latest developments in Tumblr speak:

Now that you’re more aware of Tumblr language, you’re ready to explore and reblog until you find yourself asking: what is air?

Photo credit: Gil C /

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