What Does W Mean on Social Media

Let’s say that you have just uploaded a new post on your social media websites. You are getting a steady trickle of likes and comments complimenting your post. Then out of the blue, someone leaves a single letter, ‘W,’ as a comment. It follows nothing nor precedes anything. Just the one capitalized letter, and there’s not even a period after it. That may have you tied up in knots. What does it mean? Is W slang for something? Is it a short form? An abbreviation, maybe? Is it a good thing? Or are they criticizing your post? Let’s find out!

What Does W Mean on Social Media?

In real life, W can mean any number of things. After all, there are thousands of words that start with that letter. But on social media, the W meanings are limited to a select few words. The most popularly used meaning is “wholesome,” especially when the comment is just the one word ‘W.’ The commenter is saying that your post is wholesome, which is definitely a compliment. They probably think that your post has many of the good qualities that any post should have, like an inspirational story, beautiful prose, panoramic image, perfectly edited video, positive message, etc.

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Alternatively, W may also mean “west,” like if a person is giving directions, “23, Oxford Street, W of Lambert Avenue”. Another less common usage is W-what, as in “W is your name?” You may have also used the single capitalized letter W several times at school. It’s the symbol of the element tungsten (wolfram), and it is also a widely recognized symbol for the unit of power, watt. Additionally, it can be used as a short for “win.” For example, “It’s a sure-fire W.”


Here’s a fun fact: the name of the letter “W” was derived from its Latin representation, <uu>, as in “double u.” The symbol of tungsten (W) originated from its German name, “wolfram,” which implies a cheaper version of tin. The unit of power watt (W), as you might already know, comes from the Scottish inventor James Watt. And the short form W for “west” has been used by humans for generations, probably before the invention of the compass, wherein it’s most commonly used.

However, the origin of its most popular usage of “wholesome” cannot be accurately traced. We can safely assume that this W slang wasn’t used before the advent of social media since the word “wholesome” wasn’t that common back then. So, it must have originated after posting became common on SM.

Who Uses W?

The most popular usage of W is found on social media. It is generally used by teens and millennials. Generation X is rarely found using the term, for they prefer to use the full form. And you might have already guessed that the symbols for watt and tungsten are used by scientists or students who are studying science.

The Meaning of W on Instagram Comments

As you can see, there are several meanings that the single letter W can take. But on Instagram, it most probably means “wholesome.” Does your post have multiple positive qualities, like is it motivational, cheerful, and humorous? Then the “W” comment on your post will mean “wholesome.” If your Insta post is about success, then the W meaning is most probably “win,” as in the commenter is prompting you to go win. And if a question mark follows the W, then it implies that they didn’t understand your post and are asking, “What?”

Rarely, if ever, will W mean tungsten or watts on Instagram. You might have noticed the one quality that every meaning of W possesses. It is wholeheartedly positive! W almost always means a good thing on Instagram. So don’t fret the next time that you come across a W on your post. Give a cheer instead!

What Do L and W Mean on Instagram?

If you have been active on Instagram for a while, you may have noticed that L and W comments are quite common on the platform. You won’t usually find them together separately as a single “L” or a single “W.” If you are observant, you may have perceived that L comments are for bad posts, whereas W ones are for good posts. Great observation!

Indeed, L means “loss,” and W means “win.” It is a way for Instagrammers to show which post is lousy and which one is amazing. If you are amazed by a post but when you check its comment section, it is riddled with Ls, then the post is probably fake or untrue. Similarly, if you think a post is lame but its comments are full of Ws, then look at the post and think again. There might be some hidden meaning in it that may make it great.

What Does the Abbreviation W/ Mean?

So far, you have seen all the possible meanings of W standing by itself. But what if a forward slash follows it? What could the w/ meaning be, then? We believe that the people who are Gen X or older will get this right! Simply put, w/ translates to “with.” In that sense, it is more of a shorthand than an abbreviation. Its origins can be traced back to the early 1900s, primarily included in medical prescriptions and food orders. For instance, “a hamburger w/ cheese” or “take the pill w/ water.”

The opposite of w/ is w/o, meaning “without.” The origin of its usage is also similar, like “a lunch w/o potatoes.” Today, these shorthands are commonly used on social media, so much so that w/ exclusively means “with” and w/o “without”; they don’t have any other meanings whatsoever!

Parting Words

In summary, the single letter W can have several meanings on social media, including west, wholesome, win, watt, etc. But the w/ meaning (with a forward slash) is only one – “with.” And w/o is short for “without.”

Mattie Schultz
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