What Does CW Mean in a Text?

CW usually means "Content Warning." It also means "Clockwise," "Calendar Week," "Chemical Warfare," "Chemical Weapons," and "Continuous Wave."

Here is more information about each of these definitions of CW.

Content Warning

The abbreviation CW is widely used online, especially on video sharing apps such as TikTok, to label images or videos that may illicit a strong or potentially harmful emotional response in viewers.

Content that is typically labeled with CW includes (but is not limited to):
  • Cruelty to animals.
  • Drug use.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Excessive or gratuitous violence.
  • Mental illness.
  • Pedophilia.
  • Physical, verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Pornography.
  • Rape and sexual assault.
  • Self-harm.
  • Suicide.
Marking potentially disturbing content with CW is particularly important if it may trigger a mental disorder or prompt thoughts of self harm or suicide.

Content warnings are often referred to as "trigger warnings".


CW is also used as an abbreviation of the term "clockwise" (i.e., in the direction in which the hands of a clock move, when viewed from the front).

Calendar Week

In some parts of the world, including in many Asian and European countries, the weeks of the Gregorian calendar year are numbered. Most countries use a system based on the ISO week date system, which dictates that each week begins on a Monday and is associated with the year that contains that week's Thursday. However, some countries use slightly different systems and sometimes the week starts on a Sunday.

For further information, check out the Wikipedia page on week numbering.

Chemical Warfare or Chemical Weapons

In a military context, CW usually means "chemical warfare" or "chemical weapons." Chemical warfare is the use of the toxic properties of chemical substances to kill, injure or incapacitate an enemy, using munitions or devices specifically designed to enable their release (chemical weapons).

Chemical weapons are considered weapons of mass destruction and their use in armed conflict is a violation of international law.

Continuous Wave

A continuous wave is an electromagnetic wave of constant amplitude and frequency. It may refer to a laser or particle accelerator having a continuous output, or to radio waves that continue with unchanging intensity or amplitude without modulation (such as those used in telegraphy to transmit Morse Code).

Image for CW

When I write CW, I mean this:

meaning of CW

CW means "Content Warning," as well as "Clockwise," "Calendar Week," "Chemical Warfare," "Chemical Weapons," and "Continuous Wave."

Summary of Key Points

First Definition of CW

"Content Warning" is the most common definition for CW on TikTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Definition:Content Warning
Guessability:guessability level 4
4: Difficult to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Second Definition for CW

"Clockwise" is another common definition for CW.
Guessability:guessability level 4
4: Difficult to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Third Definition for CW

CW also means "Calendar Week."
Definition:Calendar Week
Guessability:guessability level 4
4: Difficult to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Fourth Definition of CW

"Chemical Warfare" or "Chemical Weapons" is a common definition for CW in military and diplomatic circles.
Definition:Chemical Warfare or Chemical Weapons
Guessability:guessability level 3

3: Guessable

Typical Users:typical user


Fifth Definition of CW

"Continuous Wave" is another definition for CW.
Definition:Continuous Wave
Guessability:guessability level 5

5: Extremely difficult to guess

Typical Users:typical user


An Academic Look at CW

CW is classified as an initialism abbreviation, as it is pronounced using its individual letters (i.e., "See Dblyoo").

Initialisms are different to acronyms, which are abbreviations spoken as words (e.g., LOL, NATO).

Example of CW Used in a Text

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