Never let this unusual-looking abbreviation slow you down again.
Like many texting abbreviations, FWIW is hard to understand at first. It might not be a good idea to ask the person who texted it what it means. Luckily, we explain dozens of difficult acronym examples, including the FWIW meaning and history, as well as when to use acronyms or abbreviations.
What does FWIW mean?
In this sense, the FWIW meaning is similar to, “in my opinion.” It almost always comes at the beginning of a statement to preface whatever follows with a sense of, “You can disregard this, but I will say it anyway.” But the meaning goes much deeper.
FWIW is a mixture of “in my opinion” and “for your information.” It can introduce an idea that’s intended to be helpful. However, it can also impart a snarky tone to a statement. (I’ll elaborate later.)
The history of FWIW
FWIW was originally a phrase used in economics. In order to purchase land or livestock, buyers would offer to pay “for what it’s worth,” or an amount equal to their actual value.
The FWIW meaning began, however, to overlap with a more subjective and sarcastic one. In William Henry Oxberry’s 1844 play, “Newton Foster, or The Merchant Service,” one character says, “Your opinion goes for what it’s worth-nothing.”
How to use FWIW
In all electronic communication, context is everything. Most people don’t use FWIW to be dismissive, however. The majority of the time, they want to politely disagree or emphasize a key point.
Suppose you and a friend are having a text debate about the greatest actor alive. Your friend disagrees with your choice of Denzel Washington. According to him, Daniel Day-Lewis has won more Oscars than him.
There is no sudden feud between you and your friend. He’s just bringing up something you may or may not want to consider. Alternatively, you could respond, “FWIW, Denzel has been nominated more than once.”
How not to use FWIW
As we’ve seen with our literary example, FWIW can seem snide. There are certain situations in which you should avoid this, especially in a professional setting.
You can avoid sounding sarcastic by focusing on what follows FWIW. Make sure the next part is truly your subjective opinion or at least not an obvious fact. You should relay new or nonintuitive information when you use FWIW meaning. Otherwise, you’re “reminding” someone of something he should already know, which can be perceived as disparaging.