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I dunno LOL (emoticon: ¯\(°_o)/¯ ) is an expression denoting a sense of confusion, derived from the common English idiom “I don’t know” and the acronym LOL which stands for “laugh out loud.” The phrase may be more recognizable in its emoticon form ¯\(°_o)/¯, which depicts an ASCII-based character shrugging with arms raised up high. It maybe also used as the superlative form of the standard “surprised face” (O_o), oftentimes in response to “How do I shot web?” or any other question that only brings more questions into the conversation.
The online history of the term “¯\(°_o)/¯” remains sparsely documented due to the fact that most search engine omit certain characters like slashes and dashes for more accurate search results. The expression “I dunno” has been recognized as a common variation of “I don’t know” for decades and the slang acronym “LOL” also has a long history of usage. However, the earliest known pairing of the two as “I dunno LOL” appeared in a Q&A interview article published by London ShootFighters on February 8th, 2001. Several other notable instance can be found in a forum thread about drinking chants, posted on September 12th, 2004, and another thread about tanning outside, posted on December 13th, 2004.
The emoticon, which resembles the nonverbal gesture of a shrug, could have been inspired by an exploitable image of Spiderman that spawned the catchphrase “How Do I Shot Web?” as early as 2003. Before the emoticon came into usage, the text-based cue shrug signified a similar sense of non-involvement or non-awareness.
A photograph of a Barbie doll with arms raised in the air titled “I Dunno LOL” was submitted by DeviantArt user Koriganu on September 20th, 2006. The first Urban Dictionary definition entry for “¯\(°_o)/¯” was created by user spacepuree on November 9th, 2006. This definition did not contain the phrase “I dunno LOL”:
¯\(°_o)/¯ The shrug face. It’s not a zombie.
The first Urban Dictionary definition for the phrase “I dunno LOL ¯\(°_o)/¯” was created on March 25th, 2007:
¯\(°_o)/¯ is a smiley that means “i dunno lol”
The emoticon was also posted onto ScoreHero forum’s IRC channel by user Zeitgeist on July 14th, 2007:
Ech Sayz: (7/14/07) [16:41][Zeitgeist] i dunno lol ¯\(°_o)/¯
ScoreHero forum’s administrator JCirri decided to replace everyone’s avatar pictures with the ‘i dunno lol (¯\(°_o)/¯’) icon for April Fool’s Day in 2008. Another instance can be found in a NarutoFan forum thread dated March 24th, 2007.
Happy Dog Edition
Sometime in 2007, an image of a smiling dog titled “Happy Dog” was paired with the caption “I Dunno LOL.” The original photograph was first uploaded via Korean imageboard sites as early as in July 2003.