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STFU is an abbreviation for “Shut the Fuck Up,” a vulgar variation of the phrase “Shut Up” in which the expletive is added for emphasis and shock value.
One of the earliest uses of STFU in online conversation appeared in the newsgroup alt.comp.virus in a discussion among Wordbasic programmers in February 1999, in which a user named Kryten asked if anyone still coded viruses for Microsoft Word 95/96. In response, another user named THE PHOENIX posted a series of alerts saying “BAD KRYTEN, NOW STFU, AND GO TO YOUR ROOM!!” that would crash Outlook Express once it was opened.
The phrase “shut up” was originally used as early as the 1600s to describe someone who was imprisoned or quarantined, with several examples of its usage found in the King James Version of the Bible. In the following century, “shut up” took on a new meaning as an imperative to silence someone, appearing as early as the 1820s in the Bill Truck novel The Man-O’-War’s Man and again in 1857 in Charles Dickens’ serial novel Little Dorrit.
‘Altro, altro! Not Ri-’ Before John Baptist could finish the name, his comrade had got his hand under his chin and fiercely shut up his mouth."
While the exact origin of the acronym STFU is unclear, Google Books suggests that it has been appearing in publications since the 1930s. However, this may be attributed to STFU also standing for “Southern Tenant Farmers Union”, which was founded in 1934.
Also in 1999, STFU appeared on Linux enthusiast message board Greenspun and the MMA enthusiast forum Underground. A subreddit dedicated to the acronym was created on September 15th, 2008, but only has 56 readers as of January 2013. On March 9th, 2011, STFU was Urban Dictionary’s Word of the Day. The acronym has also been defined on the Online Slang Dictionary and InternetSlang.com. On Twitter, the hashtag #STFU has been used more than 240,000 times. On Facebook, STFU has been used as the title of more than 1000 fan pages and the largest of these, STFU Romney, has more than 158,000 likes.
Usage in Single Topic Blogs
On Tumblr, the snowclone “STFU, X” has been used as a common title for blogs intended to criticize a certain topic, existing as the anthesis of “Fuck Yeah” blogs. The first of these blogs was created by Blair Koenig on March 13th, 2009, titled STFU Parents. The posts often feature screenshots of Facebook posts about children, pointing out how weird some of the content seems to people who do not have children, particularly posts relating to children’s excrement.
Notable STFU Blogs
“How About a Nice Cup of Shut The Fuck Up?”
In the early 2000s, an image of a World War II-era soldier (shown below, left) with the superimposed text “How about a nice cup of shut the fuck up?” began circulating the web, especially on the social networking site MySpace. In 2006, it was revealed that the image was based on a World War II-era poster (shown below, right) featuring the late Thomas J. Murray which was to support rationing in the United States from 1943-1945. In 2006, Murray’s daughter Stephanie Phillips noted that she was “horrified” her father’s image was being used in this manner and attempted to removed images featuring the image from CafePress, however they are still being sold as of January 2013.
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