Circle Jerk

Circle Jerk

Part of a series on Internet Slang. [View Related Entries]

Updated Jun 15, 2021 at 04:34PM EDT by Rose Abrams.

Added Jan 18, 2013 at 02:19PM EST by Don.

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"Circle Jerk" is a pejorative slang term referring to a positive feedback loop which occurs when an idea, belief or meme that is already customary within an online community becomes re-iterated and rewarded in a perpetual cycle, giving rise to redundancy, clichés and karma whoring. This phenomenon is typically observed in communities consisting of self-contained forums devoted to specific interests, beliefs or subcultures.


The term "circle jerk" was initially used to describe a sexual practice in which a group of men masturbate themselves or each other while sitting in a circle. The earliest known use of the term dates back to 1979, when the Los Angeles punk band the Bedwetters renamed their band to the Circle Jerks after one of the band members found it in a dictionary of English slang words. While there are digital footprints of its usage on Usenet newsgroups[15] in the 1980s and 1990s, "circle jerk' largely remained an offline slang term.[16]


Then on January 22nd, 1999, Online Slang Dictionary[4] user Audrey M. submitted an entry for "circle jerk," alternatively defining the term as "a pointless group endeavor." On February 12th, 2001, the book Studs, Tools, and the Family Jewels: Metaphors Men Live By[2] by Peter Francis Murphy was released, defining "circlejerk" as "a boring or time-wasting meeting or other event." On May 17th, 2003, Urban Dictionary[7] user "anti-racist" submitted an entry for the term "circlejerk," which defined the term as both a group sex act and an echo chamber-style discussion.

"To kneel in a circle with others and pleasure oneself. Also refers to a pompous, self-congratulatory discussion where little to no progress is made."

The echo chamber effect[10] refers to a phenomenon that occurs when people are isolated in social circles that confirm personal biases, beliefs and ideologies. Online, the phenomenon became amplified after transitioning from BBS sites to social networking communities in the late 2000s, where users and algorithms could curate what feeds they followed based on their own interests and biases. The effect has often been criticized for allowing false information to spread without being challenged and creating barriers in communication between those who share differing opinions.


On July 16th, 2005, The Constructive Curmudgeon[11] blog posted a review of the film What the Bleep Do We Know?, to which commenter Phil Aldrige referred to the film as a "new age circlejerk." On October 10th, Straight Dope Forums[9] member Zebra posted a thread asking other members to define the term "circle jerk," to which member THespos responded that it was often used in his office to describe time-wasting meetings. On January 3rd, 2006, an entry titled "The LiveJournal Circle Jerk" was created on the Internet culture wiki Encyclopedia Dramatica,[14] described as "an elitist group of inept trolls who go about LiveJournal, fellating one another's egos at every turn." On July 18th, 2007, YouTuber chris3ff uploaded a video referring to YouTube celebrity collaboration videos as a "circle jerk" (shown below).

Usage on Reddit

Main entry: Circlejerk Subreddits

The term "circle jerk" is prominently used on topic-based and tight-knit communities like Reddit and 4chan, where discussions can quickly easily saturated with inside jokes or references that are inaccessible to newcomers or casual visitors.


On December 10th, 2008, the /r/circlejerk[6] subreddit was created to share cliched catchphrases, memes and beliefs that are considered to be pervasive among the Reddit community, such as praising the American politician Ron Paul and use of the terms "so brave", "up votes to the left" and "literally Hitler." Since then, several other circlejerk subreddits have been created, including /r/fitnesscirclejerk, /r/engineeringcirclejerk and /r/liberalcirclejerk. On August 6th, 2012, Redditor tikatwit submitted the question "What is /r/circlejerk" to the /r/ExplainItLikeImFive[3] subreddit, to which Redditor -Sam-R responded that it was a subreddit for satirizing common posts and beliefs found on social news aggregating site. On January 1st, 2013, Redditor Khiva submitted an "Anatomy of a circlejerk" to the /r/circlebroke[5] subreddit, which pointed out several notable quirks about the Reddit "hivemind." As of January 2013, SubRedditFinder[8] has over 65 subreddits tagged with the label "circlejerk" and a Facebook[13] page titled "Reddit Circlejerk" has received over 3,100 likes.

The growth of similar subreddits grew during the following years. Popular examples include r/Gamingcirclejerk and r/moviescirclejerk, both largely dedicated to promoting isolated viewpoints and parodying people with mainstream opinions.

Search Interest

External References

[1] Wikipedia – Circle jerk

[2] Google Books – Studs Tools and the Family Jewels

[3] Reddit – What is /r/circlejerk

[4] Online Slang Dictionary – circle jerk

[5] Reddit – Anatomy of a Circlejerk

[6] Reddit – /r/circlejerk

[7] Urban Dictionary – circlejerk

[8] SubRedditFinder (via Wayback Machine) – tag – circlejerk

[9] Straight Dope Forums – What to you is a circle jerk?

[10] Wikipedia – Echo Chamber Effect

[11] Blogspot – Review of What the Bleep Do We Know

[12] Alarming News (via Wayback Machine) – Left-wing circle jerk warrant sixteen paragraphs

[13] Facebook – Reddit Circlejerk

[14] Encyclopedia Dramatica – Livejournal Circle Jerk

[15] Alt.tasteless (via Wayback Machine) – Wanking 101

[16] Indiana University – The Daily Pennsylvanian / December 7, 1998

Recent Videos 3 total

Recent Images 22 total

Top Comments


“You mean to tell me that you have conflicting opinions and you enjoy expressing them?”
“Yes, I do.”
“YOU TROLLING CUNT! Get off the internet you shithead! Why can’t you just leave people alone?! I hope you die of cancer!”

“You mean to tell me that you enjoy the company of people who share your opinions and do nothing to aggravate you?”
“Yes, I do.”
“YOU CIRCLE JERKING BITCH! You human detritus can’t handle other people’s opinions! Grow some balls! I hope you all die of AIDS!”

This is why I almost exclusively lurk while browsing the internet; you cannot win.


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