Rent Free slang expression and meme.

Rent Free

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Updated Dec 30, 2020 at 06:30PM EST by Zach.

Added Oct 25, 2020 at 08:53PM EDT by Bilbo Swaggins.

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Rent Free, or Living in Your Head Rent Free, is a slang expression and catchphrase used to describe how someone holds a grudge or allows an individual to occupy their thoughts, often meant to mock those who are overtly upset at others, especially for trivial things. Outside of the phrase itself, there is also an exploitable format depicting an MS Paint character with someone living in their mind that is photoshopped with various images to represent someone in their thoughts.


Pre-internet usage, the original phrase is often attributed to advice columnist Eppie Lederer (writing under the pen name Ann Landers), who coined the term in her writing sometime during the latter half of the 1900s (seen below).[6]

β€œHanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.” – Ann Landers

Due to the phrase being coined before the internet, the exact first use of the phrase online is unknown, but the earliest instances of it used as an insult alongside the exploitable format go as far back as May 19th, 2010, with the following cartoon posted on the Pithless Thoughts Blogspot[1] (shown below).



On April 28th, 2017, another instance of the expression appearing together with the exploitable format occurs on a post to the Nairaland[2] forum (seen below).

Re: American Politics Lounge - Donald Trump Is US President-Elect ! by Missy89(f): 7:48am On Apr 28, 2017 schwarzkopf: Who cares, you are still the brainless water carrying less than human slave. Living rent free in your head HEY GET ME ANOTHER BEER!

Over the following years, the phrase saw a rise in usage on Twitter, causing notice among various news outlets and websites. On July 18th, 2018, the term was added to Urban Dictionary[7] by user PajamaBoy91, where it received 241 upvotes in over two years (shown below). On October 1st, 2018, BuzzFeed[3] published an article calling the phrase, "The Perfect Insult Of Our Times," and on November 2nd, Deadspin[4] then put out an opinion piece reacting to the phrase becoming a trend, as well as an additional article about various Twitter moments and whether they apply to the gist of "rent-free" the following year.[5]

To live in the head of someone that can’t stop thinking about you or anything to do with you.

On September 15th, 2019, an anonymous 4chan[8] user edited the exploitable image to depict elements from Pokemon on the /vp/ board under the name "Rent Free" (seen below, left). The phrase also appears in numerous other memes or posts outside the previous format. One such example was posted by the Facebook[9] page Banter King on November 10th, 2020, receiving over 7,700 likes, 8,600 shares and 4,800 comments in roughly two months (seen below, right).

Dec @DecLloyd The Crusha advert has lived rent free in my head for about 15 years.

On December 19th, 2020, the phrase was used in a meme by the Instagram[10] account hoodclips, accumulating over 1.5 million views and 217,000 likes in 11 days (shown below).

Various Examples

HEY GET ME ANOTHER CASTELIACONE Rent Free TEVENT livin in these bitches heads RENT FREE

ICAN CRASH HERE? NO RENT TO0? DAMN THANKS SMODS A boy falls in love with a girl. Unable... Reit this picture of smol cat holding toe beans lives in my head rent-free

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in reply to TerribleTrike

That's a big problem with internet discourse right now.

You say "I dislike this" and someone else on the other side of the screen automatically assumes you're gnashing your teeth and pulling your hair out in frustration over being "triggered" or whatever is the big buzzword of the day is.

You can dislike something without being a spaz, I promise that's still a thing.


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