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Fam, short for "family," is a slang term which is typically used between friends as a term of endearment. Online, it is associated with various memes popularized through Black Twitter, including The Barber and Check Out My Mixtape.
The exact origin of the slang use of "fam" is unknown. While some have cited black communities in the United States as the original creators of the term, others claim it originated within the United Kingdom. On November 6th, 2003, Urban Dictionary user Chris submitted an entry for "fam," defining it as "someone you consider family" (shown below). Over the next 13 years, the submission gained over 7,000 upvotes.
In October 2008, the question "What does 'fam' mean in English slang?" was submitted to Yahoo Answers!. On October 8th, 2014, the /r/BlackPeopleTwitter subreddit was launched, which restricts the usage of the words ”bruh”, "fam" or "similar vernacular" in posts "just to sound black." On December 11th, the @WorldStarFunny Twitter feed posted a photograph of a man with a circular haircut blended into his facial hair with the caption “he sat in the barber’s chair and just said ‘fuck my whole life up fam’” (shown below). In nine months, the tweets gathered over 7,100 retweets and 9,600 likes.
On January 3rd, 2015, Redditor
Thomas_Jefferson submitted a post asking about the meaning of "fam" and why it is "liberally used in black speech" to the /r/ExplainLikeImWhite subreddit. Two days later, another post about the slang term was submitted to /r/ExplainLikeImWhite, to which Redditor SonRaw claimed "it's been common slang for ages in London/the UK." On October 26th, a 4chan user complained about the usage of the initialism TBH and "fam" on the "/r9k": board (shown below, left). On December 12th, 4chan user le_ebin_maymayman submitted a post with the message repeatedly using the word fam along with various made-up abbreviations and "TBH" (shown below, right).
On January 5th, 2016, MTV News included "fam" in a listicle containing various slang terms. On July 27th, Redditor Lonely-Quark submitted a post titled "Why have Americans suddenly started saying 'fam'?" to /r/OutOfTheLoop.
 Yahoo Answers – What does fam mean in english slang
 Reddit – Why have American suddenly started saying fam
 MTV News – Say Goodbye to On Fleek Basic and Squad
 Reddit – What is the meaning of fam
 Reddit – Where how and when did the slang fam start
 Reddit – /r/blackpeopletwitter
 Twitter – @WorldStarFunny
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Aug 04, 2016 at 01:07PM EDT
Aug 04, 2016 at 02:51PM EDT
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