"SMH" Defined: What Is It and How Do I Use It?

“SMH” Defined: What Is It and How Do I Use It?

In chat rooms and on social media websites, you’ll often see the initialism “SMH,” which has been around for a while. What does SMH stand for, though? Which person came up with it, and what do you do with it when you have a problem?

"SMH" Defined: What Is It and How Do I Use It?

If you shake your head, you are saying, “Shaking Your Head.”

SMH stands for “shake my head” or “shaking my head” on the internet. To express disappointment or disbelief in the face of what is perceived as blatant stupidity or extreme obliviousness, one uses this expression.

SMH is commonly used in situations where you’d shake your head if you saw someone else do it. While shopping at the grocery store, if you overheard someone say, “I don’t use laundry detergent,” you’d probably move your head in shock and disgust. It’s possible to say “I had a full-body reaction to your sheer stupidity” without typing more than three letters if the same thing happens online with the expression “SMH”.

However, this does not mean that SMH is only used in isolation. SMH is often accompanied by a judgment, such as “SMH you’re crazy” or “SMH people don’t know how to use a Speed Stick.”

SMH is, on the whole, a simple initialism. The question is, where did it come from, and how do you use it properly.

As an aside, some believe that SMH stands for “so much hate.”) SMH SMH has a Bizzaro connotation, as evidenced here. Even if “so much hate” is correct, it’s not the meaning most people associate with SMH, so avoid using it in that context.)

SMH Meaning and Origin.


Urban Dictionary added the initialism SMH in 2004 with a definition that is now the same as the current meaning. It’s a mystery where the expression came from. SMH and the expression “facepalm” were probably coined at about the same time, as the latter appeared in the Urban Dictionary in June of that year.

"SMH" Defined: What Is It and How Do I Use It?

SMH, like the expression “facepalm,” slowly crept into everyday speech. During the early 2010s, social media websites like Facebook and Tumblr helped it gain popularity in memes and reaction GIFs.

According to Google Trends, SMH’s popularity peaked in June 2011 and has since declined steadily. We shouldn’t be upset, though, because it’s a lot more popular than “facepalm”.

There’s a good chance that SMH’s decline is due to the widespread use of GIF tools like GIPHY and Gfycat in social media sites, messaging apps, and text messaging apps like WhatsApp. An “SMH” can only convey so much, but an animated GIF (like the one shown above) can convey complex emotions like disgust and disappointment that aren’t expressible in any other way than through visual means.

SMH: A Quick Guide for Newbies

SMH should be used whenever shaking your head is a possibility. Not many rules apply to this phrase, but you should know that it’s meant to convey disgust as well as shock or disappointment. In fact, you could use it as a joke by teasingly shaking your head to make someone laugh.

SMH also follows very few grammatical rules. Although it’s more common to use it at the beginning of a sentence (“smh, you guys can’t tell a dog from a horse”), it can also be used in the middle or at the end. You could even use the word “shake your head” by itself, as if you were really shaking your head.

In addition to that, animated GIFs can be used to convey the message “SMH” without saying it out loud. Use GIPHY or Gyfcat to find an animation you like, and then paste it into Twitter, a messenger, or a texting app.

SMH also follows very few grammatical rules. There are a variety of places where you can use it, but the most common places are at the start and end of sentences (“smh, you people can’t tell a dog from a horse”). You could even use the word “shake your head” by itself, as if you were really shaking your head.

In addition to that, animated GIFs can be used to convey the message “SMH” without saying it out loud. Use GIPHY or Gyfcat to find an animation you like, and then paste it into Twitter, a messenger, or a texting app.

If surfing the internet makes your eyes glaze over, perhaps it’s time to brush up on some of the more common internet slang, trends, and jokes. TL;DR stands for short, sweet, and to the point. Why not learn about these terms?