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Derp is an expression associated with stupidity, much like the earlier forms of interjections like “duh” and “dur.” In image macros, the subject is typically portrayed with eyes that are pointed to each side and a caption that reads “DERP.” The words “herp” and “derp” are often used in rage comics to replace nondescript names or parts of conversation. See also: Are You a Wizard.
The first known instance of the word “derp” comes from the 1998 comedy film Baseketball by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. During a scene where they are caught smelling underwear taken from a woman’s private drawer, Matt runs out of the room and says “Derp.”
The South Park episode “The Succubus” originally aired on April 21st, 1999 introduced a character named Mr. Derp, who briefly served as the chef’s replacement. In this episode, the character performs various slapstick clichés like striking himself on the head with a hammer while exclaiming “Derp!” The expression has been used in a number of other South Park episodes, most notably in Season 6, Episode 15 “The Biggest Douche in the Universe” (2002) and Season 8th, Episode 6 “They Took Our Jobs (2004).”
The use of the term in the early 2000s was dominated by the influence of South Park episodes, as evident through a number of tribute YTMND sites that were uploaded as early as in May 2004. The image macros captioned “Derp” were first seen on 4chan’s /b/ (random) board circa July 2006, according to Encyclopedia Dramatica’s entry on the series. Prior to the emergence of “derp,” other indecipherable phrases have been used for reverse-captioning threads such as fgsfds and hurr durr.
On Urban Dictionary, there are a total of 31 entry submissions defining the word “Derp,” with the earliest instance dating back to May 21st, 2003. Several entries credit Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the coinage of the term, as shown in the 1998 film Baseketball.
A word uttered when one screws up. origin: Matt Stone and Trey Parker in BASEketball. Used as an interjection.
The influence of “derp” continued to grow on 4chan through captioned image macros and the term became increasingly used as a non-descriptive placeholder in its text form. Inititally, the practice was limited to the basic pairing of an appropriate image and the caption “derp,” but it soon evolved into wordplays on the names of celebrity subjects depicted in the macros.
In addition, the parody of Rob Schneider’s movie trailer in “The Biggest Douche in the Universe” was particularly well received among the fans. The “Derp” soundbite became widely used for Derprolling, a bait-and-switch linking practice, on 4chan’s imageboards and elsewhere beginning in May 2007. A Memebase site for Derp derivatives was launched on June 20th, 2010. A Facebook fan page has 25,662 likes as of August 22nd, 2011.
Usage in Rage Comics
“Herp” and “derp” are often used in rage comics as place holders for names or topics in conversation that are not crucial in whatever story or joke is being told. A rage character named Herp Derp is meant to represent stupidity or ignorance.
Derpina Herpington is a female rage comic character derived from the “DERP” rage comics, commonly used as the female counterparts of male rage comic characters in relationship or dating-related instances.
On October 25th, 2010, a background character from the cartoon television series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was named “Derpy Hooves” due to an animation error that gave her a wall-eyed appearance in a scene during the show.
Digital Ecologies Research Partnership
On August 18th, The Guardian reported that Reddit, Imgur, Twitch, Fark and Stack Exchange had joined an alliance titled “The Digital Ecologies Research Partnership” (DERP) to provide academic researchers with access to data of their social networks. According to the DERP website, all research supported by the partnership would be released to the public.
Search queries for “derp” have steadily increased since 2009, and have yet to reach their highest peak as of August 22nd, 2011.