What Does NFSW Mean in a Text?

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NFSW means "Not For Showing Wife" and "Need For Speed: World." Read on for more details and for examples of how to use this abbreviation.

Not For Showing Wife

image for NFSW showing a caution sign

NFSW is used with the meaning "Not For Showing Wife" to indicate that the contents of a message are probably not suitable for a man to share with his wife or partner. It is usually placed in the subject line of a message, to let the recipient know that it contains content of a sexually explicit, misogynistic, or racist nature and should not be opened when the recipients screen can be seen by other people - especially by the recipients wife. For example:

  • Jack: Jill saw that picture of us on Saturday night!
  • John: Why did you show her?
  • Jack: I didn't. I opened it when she was in the room. You should have put NFSW in the title!
The origins of this particular abbreviation are unclear. However, it is highly likely that it was a simple misspelling of the popular abbreviation NSFW ("Not Safe For Work"), which someone retrospectively put a definition to. That definition then gained some traction among the likes of retired baby boomers and gammons.

Need For Speed: World

image for NFSW showing a sportscar

NFSW can also refer to the "Need For Speed: World." This was a racing video game, part of the popular "Need for Speed" franchise. Launched in 2010, it was unique for being a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, offering players an expansive open world to explore and race in. It combined elements of previous titles, allowing for competitive racing, car customization, and police pursuits, all within a social gaming framework.

  • Jo: What's your favorite ever game?
  • Lee: It's gotta be NFSW! That's where it all started for me.
Check out our glossary of online gaming terms.

Image for NFSW

When I write NFSW, I mean this:

meaning of NFSW

NFSW can also be used with the meaning "Need For Speed: World."

Summary of Key Points

"Not For Showing Wife" is the most common definition for NFSW on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Definition:Not For Showing Wife
Guessability:guessability level 2
2: Quite easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user


Second Definition of NFSW

"Need For Speed: World" is the most popular definition for NFSW in gaming related chat.
Definition:Need For Speed: World
Guessability:guessability level 4

4: Difficult to guess

Typical Users:typical user

Adults, Teenagers, and Under 13s

An Academic Look at NFSW

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NFSW is classified as an initialism abbreviation, as it is pronounced one letter at a time. Other examples of initialisms are AI ("Artificial Intelligence") and EW ("Electronic Warfare"). Initialisms are different to acronyms, which are abbreviations spoken as words (e.g., GOAT ("Greatest Of All Time"), NATO ("North Atlantic Treaty Organization").

When used with the meaning "Not For Showing Wife," the abbreviation NFSW is used as a standalone declarative sentence (i.e., a statement). In this context, it has the clear meaning "This is not safe for showing to your wife or partner."

Example of NFSW Used in a Text

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