Youthsplaining: What the Hell Is a Simp? Are You a Simp?

Gen-Z keeps calling each other "simps," but what that means is pretty complex

March 26, 2020 10:14 am
Leo do be simpin tho
Leo do be simpin tho
Vanity Fair / Edit by Mike Falco

If you’ve scrolled through the Instagram or TikTok comments of a Gen-Zer as of late, you may have come across a few similar phrases:

“CEO of simping”; “Simp Nation”; “I might have to simp.”

Or maybe even a simp-related Star Wars joke:

The kids are simpin. They’re calling each other simps. They’re proudly proclaiming their indoctrination into simphood, or they’re rooting entirely against it.

If you’re confused about all of this, for once it might not be just because you’re old and out of touch with internet culture. I have some friends in their early twenties who are also hella confused about all of this simping stuff, and even I wasn’t 100% sure of it, myself. It could be because no one really knows what the hell it means. Even the TikTokers can’t agree:

So let’s all figure this out together.

What does “Simp” mean?

Simp, as it’s being used today, stands for “Somebody/Sucka who Idolizes Mediocre Pussy.” Yup.

But the definition and usage of the word have evolved over the years — decades even.

The term simp has been used as an abbreviation for “simpleton” since the early 20th century, so again, it’s not a new internet word invented by Gen-Zers. And long before it was adopted by TikTok, the word was a fixture in black culture for years — most notably on the song “Sippin’ On Some Syrup” by Three 6 Mafia, which was released in 2000 and opens with the line, “I’m trill working the wheel, a pimp, not a simp / Keep the dope fiends higher than the Goodyear Blimp.” In this context, “simp” is used as the opposite of a “pimp.” More recently, rapper Megan Thee Stallion, our OG Hot Girl, used simp in the same way in her hit song Cash Shit: “Bitch, I do pimp shit, huh / Ho, you on simp shit, ayy.”

According to Know Your Meme, the earliest known definition was added to Urban Dictionary on January 20th, 2005:

A guy who tags along with hot girls because he thinks it will get him laid.”

But the most widely accepted definition of the phrase, according to upvotes by Urban Dictionary users, is one posted in 2012:

A man that puts himself in a subservient/submissive position under women in hopes of winning them over, without the female bringing anything to the table.
– A man that puts too much value on a female for no reason.
– A man that prides himself with ‘Chivalry’ in hopes of getting sexual gratification from women.
– A square with no game other than ‘Rolling out the Red-Carpet’ for every female.

Now, there is of course something to be said for calling out men who believe being a “nice guy” will get them laid, or, worse, for believing that women owe them anything at all, let alone sexual favors, for not treating them like shit. But that’s not really how the word is being used of late.

Simp is typically used by men to make fun of other men who give women attention or who do something nice for them without getting any sexual favors in return — like buying her dinner or consoling her after a breakup or doing her homework because she didn’t have “time” (an example the teens on TikTok use a lot).

“Simp” is akin to “cuck,” which, by definition, is a man who lets his wife or girlfriend have sex with other men, but in recent years has been co-opted by angry men’s rights activists to describe any man who respects women. As MEL Magazine has noted, “…like ‘cuck,’ simp has evolved past its original, more precise definition, and is now another catchall misogynistic term, seemingly aimed not directly at women but rather the men who value them.”

Wow, so this is incredibly misogynistic, right?

Yes, yes it is. And it gets much worse!

The online spread of the word didn’t see much momentum until 2019, where it was mainly used on the /r/MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) subreddit — a misogynistic male supremacist group the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as being “on the borders of the hateful incel community.” So you know the deal: red pills, beta males, chads, women-only-want-smokin-hot-dumb-guys-with-six-packs-and-not-super-thoughtful-guys-like-me-I-am-being-so-nice-to-you-why-won’t-you-sleep-with-me-!!!!-bitch. They believe women are toxic and primarily exist to hinder men’s achievements, so any man who seeks female validation (or you know, respects women) is weak, has no dignity and is a “simp.”

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I’ll spare you most of the other horrid details, but here’s one example of how the term has been used in these misogynistic communities, as pointed out by MEL:

“Women demand that men look like a chiseled Adonis, drive a nice car, have a six-figure salary, live in a nice house, etc etc but yet most women look like fucking zombies without makeup, usually have a ‘few extra pounds,’ drive a piece of shit hooptie or don’t even HAVE a car, work a shitty minimum wage job, and live in a cockroach infested studio apartment. They’re truly delusional, and the worst part is the simps with good incomes that will give into their demands and turn these worthless thots into housewives sweeping them off their feet. If these simps came to their senses, these bitches would stop looking for the ‘perfect man’ and start looking for extra-large litter boxes for their 20 cats they’re gonna get…”

Judging from this post and others like it, these men don’t hate simps because they’re weak but because, as MEL again notes, “the very concept of a simp — a guy who’ll willingly surrender his masculinity in order to please a woman — conveniently supports their narrative that women only want to manipulate and control men for their own selfish ends.”

As always, we toxic females are to blame.

So then why the hell did Gen-Z adopt it? And when did this happen?

MEL reported on the usage back in October, when the word was taking off on TikTok. You could find thousands of videos with the hashtag #SimpNation, which has accumulated over 93.3 million views.


CEO of shiny chins ##fyp ##foryou ##foryoupage ##simp

♬ hey ya rockstar – emetuttell

stop simpin 🤡 ##ifoundyou ##simp ##simpnation ##PlayWithLife ##relationshiptips ##ChilisBirthday ##fyp ##foryoupage ##fskudahura ##xyzcba ##foryou

♬ Simp Detector – Yung Nugget

The TikToks are themselves explainers of the word, many of them detailing the actions that could get a man branded a “simp,” while others just arbitrarily state that men who have certain names are “simps.”

But another less infuriating type of video features teens poking fun at themselves for being simps.

“Simping for a girl” — or a guy, since it’s not just straight men using the term — means you’re crushing hard on someone who may or may not like you back, to the point that some of your actions can seem a bit pathetic. And teens, as they typically do, are making self-deprecating jokes and TikToks about it. For the most part, Gen-Zers aren’t using simp in the exact horrible way men’s rights activists are. They have, once again, created a different definition of the word.


we all simp a lil sometimes :,( ##fyp ##foryou ##comedy ##simp ##simpnation

♬ original sound – sophiajudice_

But “simp” has evolved into an even larger meme, one that in a way makes fun of the word and its misogynistic usage. You can be a simp for a celebrity, a character on a TV show or even a good ol’ cup of coffee. But in every one of these declarations of simping, there’s a welcome hint of irony, a knowing wink that says, I understand that men who use this word as a way to tear down other men for respecting women are fucking morons.

Wait, so is this a good or a bad thing? Am I a fucking simp?

It all depends on how you use it. As we have learned, the word has a strong connection to misogyny, which is obviously not great. And while the teens seem to be using the term mainly in a sardonic manner, it can still foster some hateful rhetoric and ideas that can become dangerous especially to impressionable teenage boys who use TikTok and other internet platforms. But its evolving definition and status as a meme put it in a grey area.

Just know that if an angry, involuntarily celibate man calls you a simp, you’re probably doing fine. But if a woman you’re trying to win over calls you a simp, well, maybe you should move on.

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