Whoosh / You Missed the Joke

Whoosh / You Missed the Joke

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Updated Jan 25, 2021 at 01:55PM EST by Zach.

Added Jul 15, 2015 at 03:32PM EDT by Don.

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"Whoosh" is an onomatopoeia for the sound of a fast moving object flying over someone’s head. In online discussions, the word is often used to poke fun at someone's inability to appreciate or understand a joke, especially one that is sarcastic or ironic in nature; such sentiment can be also conveyed in the form of reaction GIFs that are known by various names, including "you missed the joke," "you and the joke," and "that's the joke". In late 2016, the subreddit /r/woooosh was created to document such instances around the web.


The origin of the onomatopoeic expression is unknown. The earliest Urban Dictionary[1] entry for "whoosh" was submitted by userCougarSW2 on November 14th, 2004, defining it as an indication "that the joke just told was too sophisticated for the listener and has gone 'way over their head'."

TOP DEFINITION whoosh Single word exclamation, accompanied by a gesture where the hand is swept palm down over the head from front to back with about three inches clearance. Indicates that the joke just told was too sophisticated for the listener and has gone "way over their head". Sometimes comes to mind when reading feedback on Urban Dictionary quality control 2. paris Capital of North Africa. j'en ai marre Source: fnjlas, Jun 20, 2004 A user said this should be deleted: Factually incorrect and the example is not even in English." Whoosh!) by CougarSW2 November 14, 2004


On May 6th, 2005, Straight Dope Forums[6] member Jim B. submitted a thread titled "What does 'Whoosh' mean?", to which user Governor Quinn replied that it served the purpose of "alerting a poster that they have misunderstood something in a previous post." On February 11th, 2008, a question asking about the usage of "whoosh" on web discussion forums was submitted to Yahoo! Answers.[7] On October 29th, 2010, an image macro featuring a parrot with the word "whoosh!" written over it's head was submitted to a thread on the Piston Heads Forums[8] (shown below).


On November 11th, 2012, a Star Trek: The Next Generation animated GIF showing an alien woman failing to catch a ball with the word "joke" written on it was submitted to /r/AdviceAnimals,[3] where it garnered upwards of 900 votes (97% upvoted) before it was archived (shown below, left). On June 14th, 2013, Imgur user Rainman18 uploaded an animated GIF titled "Whoosh," which depicted the trajectory of a joke graphed over an illustration of a person's head (shown below, middle). On June 23rd, an animated GIF of a joke flying through space past a person depicted as the entire Earth's orbit was uploaded to the /r/gifs[2] subreddit, where it received more than 1,500 votes (86% upvoted) prior to being archived (shown below, right).

JOKE 蠫 36 36

On the following day, Redditor shindyy submitted a post titled "What does whoosh mean?" to the /r/OutOfTheLoop[5] subreddit, to which Redditor _Robbstark submitted the top comment noting "it is used as an onomatopoeia for a joke going over someone's head."

/r/woooosh Subreddit

/r/woooosh is a subreddit on Reddit devoted to documenting instances of someone missing a joke or failing to understand that something is sarcasm. Taken from the slang term "whoosh," an onomatopoeia for the sound effect of a joke flying over one’s head, the term was popularized on Reddit through the sub and became a common reaction or reply outside of the platform elsewhere online for similar instances when someone failed to see sarcasm and humor.

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