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Dafuq is an interjection typically used in reaction to that which makes no sense or provokes severe confusion. It is short for the colloquial phrase “[what] the fuck?” and written without capital letters, spaces and punctuation.
The phrase “what the fuck” has been widely used both in real life conversations and popular culture prior to its adaption into online slang and image macros. The phrase eventually spun off into its abridged forms “WTF” and “the fuck?” as first documented via Urban Dictionary on March 3rd, 2003 and March 17th, 2004, respectively. The has been notably featured in a LOLcat video known as “‘the fuck was that’ cat,” uploaded by YouTuber webinapage on November 26th, 2009.
Meanwhile, the earliest known definition of the term “dafuq” can be found in an Urban Dictionary entry submitted on January 4th, 2009, which explains the phrases as “like wtf, it’s ebonics for what the fuck.”
The alternately version form of the phrase entered widespread usage in the following year, when it was featured in a two-pane image macro using a still shot of startled-looking Severus Snape (played by Alan Rickman) from the 2010 fantasy film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.
One of the first viral instances of “Dafuq” reaction image emerged in November 2010, when the still shot of Snape was paired with a photoshopped version of another still shot from the same Harry Potter film. Throughout November and December that year, the image made its rounds across a number of internet humor hubsites including Memebase, 9GAG and FunnyJunk among others.
In addition to the usage of Snape reaction image, the term “Dafuq” has become also associated with odd or inexplicable images, as well as GIF animations and videos of startled-looking animals on Reddit and Tumblr. A single topic blog named “Dafuq-Posts” was launched in October 2011, curating a wide array of images and videos relating to the category of WTF humor. The Facebook fan page for the phrase “dafuq” was launched on December 11th, 2011 and has gained more than 1,700 likes in the span of first six months.
Derivative: Dafuq Did I Just Read?
The popularity of the term “dafuq” has also led to a spin-off series of multi-pane vertical images featuring a rage comic character known as Dafuq Did I Just Read?, which is often used to illustrate the ridiculous nature of various forum and blog posts found on the web.