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The Meaning of IKR and How to Use It

The Meaning of IKR

Have you ever come across IKR in a text threat and wondered about its meaning? Well, IKR is simply an abbreviation for “I know, right?” — a trendy expression rooted in the valley girl phenomenon of the 1990s. However, it did not fully enjoy its current “trendy” usage until much later, as the abbreviation made its appearance in the early 2000s and eventually became prevalent in general speech during the end of that decade.

Now freed from the stigma of the valley girl, the expression is used both in speech and text to acknowledge a notion while also wholeheartedly agreeing with it. It can also express both agreement and shared disbelief in specific situations.

In addition, there can be the implication that the user is relieved that the speaker shares the same beliefs or commiserates with whatever idea they are acknowledging.

As more people picked up the expression and were familiar with it, texters adopted IKR as an expedient way to express this idea, which inevitably happens with commonly used phrases through texting and the internet.

Graphic with a woman and two captions: "IKR" and "I Know, Right?!"

Proper Usage of IKR

Fortunately, IKR is a straightforward expression to use, as the situations where it can be used are pretty straightforward. The critical concept to remember is that you aren’t simply stating that you know about the topic or opinion expressed, but that you also agree with it.

As is typical with internet abbreviations, you may see IKR expressed differently in text. You may see it without its capitalization (ikr), as a rhetorical question (IKR?), or as emphatic agreement (ikr!).

You can use a form of the abbreviation, or if that’s not your thing, you can certainly spell out the expression: “I know, right?”

Here are some examples of proper usage to set you down the path of adding this expression to your vocabulary without looking foolish.

Speaker 1: I can’t believe that Michael keeps getting away with talking to her that way!
Speaker 2: IKR!

In this situation, the exclamation point indicates not only that Speaker 2 agrees but also emphatically shares the incredulity about Michael’s cunning ability to avoid retribution.

Speaker 1: Ugh! That loud noise is distracting me from my work!
Speaker 2: IKR?

Here, the IKR user isn’t quite as emphatic, but the implication is that they agree and are also finding this mystery noise as a detriment to the work environment.

Speaker 1: To be honest, I’ve never understood what this policy means.
Speaker 2: IKR! I thought I was the only one!

In this instance, the context provided by speaker 2 corroborates the sense of relief that they feel in learning that others are as confused about the policy in question as they are.

Speaker 1: Marianne acts so much more intelligent than everyone else, yet look at the state of this memo.
Speaker 2: IKR? If we make a mistake, we never hear the end of it.

IKR can also imply sarcasm. In this situation, the memo is clearly a subpar presentation, calling into account the question of Marianne’s arrogance and pointing out the irony of the situation.

Improper Usage

Remember that IKR can not be used as a complete replacement for “I know” as it has an additional meaning. Here’s a situation where using IKR would not be appropriate:

Speaker 1: It says here you need to use the square component in that slot.
Speaker 2: IKR?

In this situation, unless Speaker 2 is being sarcastic, this is inappropriate usage of the expression, as it is a situation where you may want to confirm the knowledge, but this is not an opinion or circumstance which requires emphatic agreement.

Using IK (“I know”) is more appropriate here.

Final Thoughts

The usage of IKR is not limited to simple text and internet situations, as saying the entire expression (“I know, right?”) in a spoken conversation is also acceptable. It conveys the same meaning as the abbreviation.

IKR can be a fun and stylish way to express a slightly more complicated idea in a simple and socially understood way. It can also save you time, allowing prompt agreement with an idea through textual communication.

Related: The Meaning of LMK

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By James Smith

Described as an "English Guru," James Smith holds a Master's degree in English from Arkansas Tech University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with a minor in ESL. James is a sought after writer and editor with university teaching experience.

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