Baww is an onomatopoeia for the sound of crying in loud, bawling manner. It is typically used on message boards as a genuine response to sad posts or alternatively, a sarcastic remark to overly emotional threads. The number of w's suffixed at the end may vary, depending on the intensity of the emotional experience.
"Baww" was first used in comics as a way for writers to express a character crying. One of the earliest instances of the phrase appearing in print was published in an 1947 issue of the comic Egbert, where a rabbit named Buzz is trying to help another rabbit, Bunnyhunch, with a toothache. Bunnyhunch expresses his pain through the word "bawww" twice in the comic.
The meaning of "Baww" was first added to Urban Dictionary on August 5th, 2007, which defines the onomatopoeia as synonymous with the act of whining or a patronizing response to another person's ramblings, similar to the use of tl;dr.
In the mid to late 2000s, an image of a rabbit in tears with a speech bubble reading “Bawwwww!” became a popular reaction image associated with the word online in the mid to late 2000s. The image is taken from a page in a furry erotic comic entitled Incontinent Student Bodies written by Michael McAdams (known as Karis in the furry community) and illustrated by Marci McAdam. The comic was published sometime before July 28th, 2006, when original pages of the comic were posted on 4chan. The baww bunny was added as a reaction image to Threadbombing on September 17th, 2008.
Baww threads, where people post sad or emotional images and stories, were posted on 4chan as early as February 2008 on the /co/ (comics & cartoons) board. They spread to other 4chan boards including /b/ (random) before moving to other message boards in 2009 including film community Live Action Movie Protest, automotive community Standard Shift and gaming site IGN. The next year, these types of threads were posted on the eBaum's World forums and the Gamespot forums. In November 2010, Bawwbot.net was created as a hub site for sad images.
In 2011, some 4chan users began referring to Buzzkilling and Hipster Editing threads as "anti-baww" threads. threads were also known as "anti-baww" threads in 2011. Baww has also been used as a tag on deviantArt, Tumblr and Twitter to mark posts or images with sad content. As of March 2012, chanarchivehas over 500 results for “baww thread.”
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