Not The Onion

Not The Onion

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Updated Oct 07, 2020 at 04:53AM EDT by ohmyjosh.

Added Jul 26, 2017 at 04:03PM EDT by Matt.

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Not The Onion is a popular expression or catchphrase for expressing the opinion that a news story is so outlandish and unbelievable that it is reminiscent of the satirical newspaper The Onion.


While the satirical newspaper has been in publication since 1988, the phrase "Not the Onion" did not come into prominence until the mid-00s. On October 25th, 2008, the subreddit /r/NotTheOnion launched.[1] This page allowed users to submit bizarre and funny news articles that look like satire but were, in fact, real. As of July 2017, the subreddit had more than 12 million subscribers.


On August 13th, 2003, the website was registered. While this is the first known usage of the phrase "Not the Onion," the site does not abide by the popular definition.[2] Instead, the site is an educational portal for learning to write satire.


Since the launching of the subreddit, the phrase has become used on other sites. The earliest known usage of the phrase as a hashtag on Twitter occured on February 17th, 2009.[6] Twitter user @Shebanator commented (shown below), "RT @monkchips: Saudi Oil Minister Warns Against Hasty Transition to Renewable Energy – ha! #NotTheOnion."

One post on the Democratic Underground (shown below) made on October 4th, 2010 sees user lame54 use the phrase to describe the unusual circumstances of a story. They titled the thread, "I Swear – This Is NOT The Onion."

RT @monkchips: Saudi Oil Minister Warns Against Hasty Transition to Renewable Energy ha! #NotTheOnion I Swear This Is NOT The Onion A Brooklyn rabbi who says he helped write the speech that Carl Paladino gave to Orthodox leaders on Sunday that contained anti-gay remarks is withdrawing his support for the GOP candidate for governor. The rabbi says it is because Paladino apologized for those remarks under pressure from his family. Paladino said he has a nephew who is gay. It also turns out that Paladino's company owned a gay bar upstate and that Paladino's son ran it. Rabbi Yehuda Levin says Paladino doesn't have any backbone and bowed to political pressure Also, r--- pictures of Roger Stone, a key advisor to Paladino, have surfaced. The pictures show a shirtless Stone at the Gay Pride Parade, kissing a woman's exposed breast. And there is another pictureof her licking his ear.

On March 6th, 2012, the website launched, which archives and shares funny and bizarre news articles.[3]

The following year, Not the Onion appeared on Twitter,[4] when the account @ItsNotTheOnion joined on February 8th, 2013. The account, as of July 2017, has more than 1,000 followers. Two years later, on November 10th, 2015 a Facebook account called OnionFlavouredNews[5] launched. As of July 2017, the page has more than 1,000 likes and 1,000 followers.

Headlines That Sound Like They're From the ONION But Aren't

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External References

[1] Reddit – /r/nottheonion

[2] Not the Onion – Not The Onion

[3] The On1On – The OnOneOn

[4] Twitter – @ItsNotTheOnion

[5] Facebook – Onion Flavored News

[6] Twitter – @Shebanator's Tweet

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