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What is a simp? We explain the internet term’s meaning

By Alma Fabiani

Oct 5, 2020


If like me, you spend the majority of your day on your computer and at least a good hour of your evening scrolling through TikTok, then chances are you’ve come across the term ‘simp’. Unlike other internet words like egirl and eboy, simp has a mostly pejorative connotation to it—think of it as a cousin to the incelism branch.

So what is a simp exactly? If you’re still somewhat confused about the term and when to use it, here’s everything you need to know about its meaning and where it comes from.

What is a simp?

While many think that, just like LOL, OMG and LMFAO, simp is an abbreviation which stands for ‘Sucker Idolising Mediocre Pussy’, the word’s meaning is far less researched. Historically, the word is a shortened form of ‘simpleton’, which is used to qualify an idiot. Although simpleton is a pretty tame insult by today’s standards, being called a simp has taken on a new meaning.

If you look it up on Google, you’ll see that Urban Dictionary defines it as “someone who does way too much for a person they like,” and someone “who will say anything to please someone, particularly a girl, in the hopes that they will be in good favour with that person.”

This ‘someone’ mentioned above seems to be a heterosexual man in almost every case. On TikTok, users will call a person a simp when they deem that they will foolishly overvalue and do anything for a woman, putting her on a pedestal in order to please her.

This could almost sound like the definition of someone being romantic and in love—someone truly valuing someone else—however, the phrase simping is usually associated with begging or grovelling. In other words, a simp is the ‘nice guy’ of the gen Zers.

YouTuber PewDiePie also gave a great introduction to the ‘simp’ internet culture.

Where does the term come from?

While simp has a whole new definition now, it is important that we look at where the term first came from in order to truly understand its meaning. Just like many other internet slang and cultures, the word started as a TikTok challenge.

The Simp Nation challenge

This viral TikTok challenge was originally started by the user @Polo.Boyy who posted relatable moments and then finished his videos with the message “Welcome to Simp Nation.” For example, one of his videos said “When you comment ‘🤤’ under her post and she replies with ‘tnx lol’,” and ended with “Welcome to Simp Nation.”

From there, the whole TikTok trend started, which spread out to other platforms such as Twitter and Instagram in meme formats.

Now, gen Zers are all simpin. They’re either calling each other simps and fully accepting this new lifestyle or rooting against it.

Simp in music

Long before it was adopted by TikTok, the word was a fixture in black culture for years, most notably on the song ‘Sippin’ On Some Syrup’ by Three 6 Mafia, which was released in 2000 and opens with the line, “I’m trill working the wheel, a pimp, not a simp. Keep the dope fiends higher than the Goodyear Blimp.”

In this context, simp is used as the opposite of a pimp. More recently, Megan Thee Stallion used the term simp in the same way in her hit song ‘Cash Shit’: “Bitch, I do pimp shit, huh. Ho, you on simp shit, ay.”

The ‘nice guy’

As mentioned previously, the word simp is the modern version of what millennials know as the ‘nice guy’. Someone who, instead of attempting to attract a member of the opposite sex by being interesting or simply just themselves, they focus on being controlling. There is definitely something to be said about men who believe being a nice guy will get them laid or believing that women owe them sexual favours for not treating them like shit.

Simps, just like nice guys, use niceness to lull their victims into a false sense of security, hoping to gain romantic leverage later in time. While the definition of simp remains basic and heteronormative, the genders used for this should be seen as interchangeable.

Although the challenge involves a disproportionately high percentage of men, TikTok has also a number of Simp Nation videos featuring women. But the masculine majority of people being defined by the term will remind more than one about incelism. Are both things the same?

Are simps and incels the same?

Incels, also known as involuntary celibates, are members of an online subculture who define themselves as ‘perpetually single’ or ‘dating shy’ and therefore “unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one”, a state they describe as ‘inceldom’. These men believe that sex should be granted to them if they are polite, friendly and complimentary. While this is obviously not the case, incelism has been growing online as a misogynistic movement for years now.

Both simps and incels act one way, while their true intentions suggest the same ulterior motive: sex. So yes, in a way, simps are like a watered-down version of incels. Social anxiety, depression and a lack of self-esteem are issues that both simps and incels deal with, which can explain (but not condone) their toxic views on human relationships.

TikTok challenge or not, simps are lonely people who should try to find respectful love instead of being stuck in a perpetual loop of anger. What do you say, is it already time we cancel the term simp?