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What does JK mean and how do you use it?

A person smiling while looking at a smartphone.
Ginnyyj / Shutterstock.com

If you see “jk”

; in a message you’ve just received, it’s a sign that you shouldn’t take it too seriously. This is what the acronym is and how you can use it to lighten up a conversation.

“Just kidding”

JK stands for “kidding”. It is used to indicate that something you just said is a joke and is not intended to be taken seriously. It can be said in response to someone’s response to your joke, or it can be stated preemptively before the other person has even responded.

JK is usually written in lower case “jk”. Depending on when a message was written, you may also find it spelled “j / k” with a slash in between. It is often used in conjunction with other popular Internet acronyms that denote laughter, such as LOL, ROFL, and LMAO. For example, you can send someone the message “lol jk” in response to their response to your joke.

From J / K to JK

JK is one of the very first internet acronyms to emerge, with its roots going back to the very first internet chat rooms and continuing to instant messaging in the 2000s. The first definition of the acronym on Urban Dictionary dates back to 2001 and reads “Acronym. Just kidding.”

Since its inception, the way the acronym is written has evolved. It used to be spelled “j / k” with a slash between the letters. However, in the past decade, the slash has been largely omitted by the new generation of internet users.

On the other hand, the way it is used has remained the same over time. It is still used to make it clear that something said should not be taken so seriously or to keep the conversation light. The phrase itself has been in use for a long time and has always had the same meaning, even before the invention of the acronym.

Keep things light

Just as “lol” and “lmao” have become staples of Internet conversations, even when no one is smiling, JK is often used to keep the conversation light. You could say “jk” to make a discussion about a serious topic seem less intense than it is, or to comment without looking rude.

There are also specific scenarios where the acronym is used to refer to an insult or to avoid offending another party. For example, let’s say you say something that could be considered offensive or baseless. You could then say “jk” to make them believe you didn’t mean what you said. This could be the case even if you meant what you said completely.

Another way people use “jk” is for sarcasm. You could make a comment that you actually mean, and then use “jk” to suggest that you were being sarcastic. While it’s nearly impossible to transmit sarcasm over the internet, using jk is a good substitute.

Other “JK’s”

A portrait photo of actor JK Simmons
American actor JK Simmons DFree / Shutterstock.com

Unlike other Internet acronyms, “JK” has a few meanings that have nothing to do with the slang term.

There is an abundance of celebrities and personalities also referred to as ‘JK’. These include Harry Potter author JK Rowling, American actor JK Simmons and k-pop star Jeon Jungkook. When you see the acronym “JK” on social media, especially Twitter, don’t immediately assume the person is referring to Internet language. They may just be referring to one of these famous personalities.

There is also a common misinterpretation of the acronym: that it stands for ‘kidding’ instead of ‘kidding’. However, these two mean the same thing: not taking things so seriously.

How to use JK

As we have illustrated above, there are quite a few ways you can use “jk” to complete a thought. Here are some examples of how to use “jk”:

  • “When did you start to become so responsible? jk. “
  • ‘I’m definitely not going to your birthday party. jk. “
  • ‘No, I don’t want to eat your cookies. JK, I bet they are delicious! “
  • ‘That shade of green is horrible. haha just kidding.”

If you’d like to explore some other online acronyms, check out our articles on NSFW and TLDR. You’ll be texting like an internet native in no time!

RELATED: What does “TLDR” mean and how do you use it?

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