Gen Z teens and tweens likely picked up the use of the slang word "simp" from social media usage.
Editor’s Note: After we first published this story we received reader feedback about the term’s derivation and use in pop culture. We’ve updated the story to reflect those additional details.
Shannon was used to her socially awkward son being bullied by other boys at the private school he attends in Atlanta.
But when she picked him up from school in mid-January and her eighth grader told her he was being called a “simp,” Shannon, who’s only using her first name to protect her son’s identity, didn’t know what to think.
“He’s telling me this and I’m driving and I’m trying to make sense of it,” she said. “I’d never heard the word.”
“He told me, ‘It basically means that I’m just being nice to girls because I like them,’” she said. “I was like, wait, my kid is being picked on for being nice to girls?”
Her son had told her he’d recently been put in the “friend zone” by one of the girls, who made it clear she wasn’t interested in dating him. They had continued to be friendly.
“You do all these things as a parent to raise your kid right, to be nice to everyone, especially kids without many friends,” Shannon said. “And you never think that by making your kid the nice one you could be making them a target for bullies.”
What is a simp?
While many parents might be unfamiliar with the word “simp,” chances are your tween or teen has used or at least heard the term.
Simp hashtags are rampant on TikTok. Instagram has over 350,000 posts tagged #simp and there are Facebook groups devoted to simps and simping (it can be a verb, too).
Depending on who you talk to, there is some debate on the word’s current usage and how much (if at all) it has evolved over time. While simp’s way-back origins are connected to the word “simpleton,” its current usage is linked to West Coast American rappers like Too Short, who first used it in the mid-1980s in a way that denotes the opposite of “pimp” in his song “Pimpology.”
In 1992, Boyz II Men released a song called “Sympin’ Ain’t Easy,” using a different spelling of the word and evoking frustrated yearning.
Urban Dictionary’s top definition of a simp is “someone who does way too much for a person they like.” Other definitions on the crowdsourced online dictionary include “a man who puts the hoes before the bros,” and “a guy that is overly desperate for women, especially if she is a bad person, or has expressed her disinterest in him whom which he continues to obsess over.”
“‘Simp’ is slang for a person (typically a man) who is desperate for the attention and affection of someone else (typically a woman),” said Connor Howlett, 23, a digital strategist for Turner PR in New York City, in an email to CNN.
“Think the energy of puppy dog eyes but manifested in a romantic, human form,” Howlett said. “It’s used in an insulting manner. Though typically playful, there are definitely undertones of toxic masculinity since it’s related to showing too much emotion.”
Florida mother Karen McClung first encountered the word in group chats she closely monitors with her 11-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.
“I saw the word and quickly looked it up,” said McClung, who lives in Tampa. “I asked my kids what they thought it meant and my son said, ‘It’s basically if you had $1,000 and you could do anything with it, you’d use it to get the attention of a girl — then everyone would make fun of you.”
“I blocked the thread,” McClung said.
While she said her son wasn’t being called a simp in the thread, McClung said she’s “curious to see how it impacts my son because he’s very chivalrous by nature.”
A definition that’s evolving
A word that emerged into Gen Z vernacular from social media usage, as simp is thought to have arrived, is bound to get muddled and continue to evolve.
And simp can have different contexts depending on the age group using it, said Laura Capinas, a clinical social worker in Sonoma County, California.
“Depending on if it’s a middle schooler or a high schooler using it, it could be different,” she said, and it’s not just boys talking about simps and simping either.
“Girls in high school sometimes throw out the term to their high school girlfriends,” Capinas said. “Some kids I’ve talked to have said it’s not a derogatory term. It’s sort of like teasing someone, like ‘You’ve left us to go hang out with your friends, you’re simping us.’”
“If you have someone saying it who’s used to being a bully, it will be received as a bully comment,” she said.
While she hasn’t heard kids or parents in her practice be overly concerned about the word, Capinas often hears kids use it in describing their day or their peer groups.
Myra Fortson said she has discussed the word with her 15-year-old daughter and thinks words like this often “spread more quickly than their meaning.”
“Kids will also own their language by refusing to go back to its original meaning,” said the Tampa, Florida, mother of three. “They will say things like, ‘Maybe that’s where it comes from, but it doesn’t mean that anymore.’ And they keep using the term the way they want.”
Tactics for defusing a tense simp-tuation
One way to think of a simp, said Sean Davis, a marriage and family therapist in Sacramento, California, is “simply someone who is ahead of their time.”
“Though it hurts in the moment, in the big picture, a boy who is called a ‘simp’ can wear it as a badge of honor,” Davis said.
“Today’s boys are being raised in the middle of the biggest redefinition of male gender roles in recent history,” Davis said. “Should I be kind and sensitive or distant and aloof when trying to win a partner over?”
As with all bullying, teens and tweens should first tell their parents or a trusted adult who may be able to intervene on their behalf, he said. “Otherwise, simply owning it and refusing to be ashamed can help.”
It’s important for parents to remember that there have always been new slang terms to navigate for kids and parents alike, Capinas said, and the goal is to “make sure it’s being received in a playful manner and used playfully.”
“I think we are always looking to stop our kids from being hurt,” she said. “We don’t like language that’s slang and has potential for negative connotation.”
One tactic she teaches kids in her therapy sessions, she said, is the “humor tool.”
“It’s comic relief. You practice not putting down the other person, you put down the situation,” she said.
If someone is being called out for always “simping the girls,” Capinas said, “he could turn it around and say ‘It’s tough being the lone soldier simp nice guy, who wants to join me?’”
“You can turn it and make it into comedy,” she said.
Davis pointed to a similar approach.
“Telling the bully, ‘That’s right,’ while holding your head up high and walking away can help, as bullies usually give up if they don’t succeed in tearing the other person down,” he said. “And you can tell yourself that being bullied is simply the price a revolutionary has to pay for standing up for what’s right.”
Shannon said her son’s therapist advised similar tactics, but the boy said he only comes up with the perfect retort three hours later.
Get CNN Health's weekly newsletter
Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.
“It’s just been really heartbreaking, especially because I know a lot of these boys bullying him. He’s been at the school since second grade,” Shannon said. “If their moms knew, they’d be horrified. But my son doesn’t want me to tell them because it will just get worse.”
Terry Ward is freelance writer based in Tampa, Florida.
Simp can be used as a noun (e.g., He's such a simp) and a verb (e.g., All he does is simp over her, he's actually simping right now by sending her so many messages!) As simp has become more widely used, it appears to be evolving as a slang way of indicating someone has a crush on someone.What does simp mean for a girl? ›
Simp is an internet slang term describing someone who shows excessive sympathy and attention toward another person, typically someone who does not reciprocate the same feelings, in pursuit of affection or a sexual relationship. Urban Dictionary defines a simp as "someone who does way too much for a person they like".What is the opposite of a simp? ›
(slang) Opposite of a simple person lacking common sense. sage. philosopher. sensible person. wise man.Is simp a bad word? ›
Men who are 'too nice' to women are called 'simps. ' Why this insult is problematic. Many of us are familiar with the jokes about "whipped" husbands or phrases like "nice guys finish last." But these "nice guys" now have a new insult to contend with: the controversial slang term "simp."What is a pick me girl? ›
Noun. pick-me girl (plural pick-me girls) (slang, derogatory) A woman who asserts that she is unlike (and sometimes better than) most other women, in order to gain attention, approval, or validation from men.What is a simp in modern slang? ›
Urban Dictionary's top definition of a simp is “someone who does way too much for a person they like.” Other definitions on the crowdsourced online dictionary include “a man who puts the hoes before the bros,” and “a guy that is overly desperate for women, especially if she is a bad person, or has expressed her ...What is a 2 man slang? ›
“2 Man” is another term for a double date in which the woman wants to bring a friend, and so the man responds by bringing his own friend, as well. “2 Man” might also simply mean a double hookup involving 2 couples. “Two-manning” also sometimes refers to a sexual encounter involving 2 men and 1 woman.What is the difference between simp and Stan? ›
'Simp' refers to someone who does way too much for a person they like while 'stan' which originally referenced the Eminem song 'Stan' about an overly obsessed fan is now used to refer to someone or something you idolise or truly love (Like 'We stand legends only').How do you tell if a girl is a simp? ›
However, the dynamic can play out in all types of relationships, and a woman who behaves this way might also be considered a simp.) A simp exhibits fawning, groveling, or debasing behavior, possibly doing things they wouldn't normally do or that compromise their values or make them look silly.
While most people use “simp” to describe men who date women, anyone can engage in simp behavior. According to Hafeez, insecure people of any gender or orientation are likely to show disregard for others' boundaries.What is the old word for simp? ›
The Evolution of Simp
The “New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English,” defines it as a shortened version of simpleton, so the phrase's original meaning is rooted in calling someone stupid. The dictionary lists its first known usage as 1946, though it appeared in The New York Times as early as 1923.
“Simp" is a slang term used to describe a person who is perceived as overly submissive or even desperate for the attention or affection of someone without receiving anything in return.What do you call a man who uses a woman? ›
/ˈwəmənaɪzə/ Other forms: womanizers. If you've ever known a man who can't keep his eyes off every single woman who walks by, you can call him a womanizer — especially if he's constantly handing out his phone number.What does my man mean from a girl? ›
my man: my friend, my mate, my pal, my buddy noun.What is simping for a boy? ›
According to Urban Dictionary, a simp is “someone who does way too much for a person they like” . Simping, meanwhile, is a verb describing the action of being a simp, meaning sucking up, schmoozing or otherwise pining over a romantic interest.What is a bruh girl? ›
bruh girl (plural bruh girls) (slang) A girl with personality traits and interests considered masculine, especially associated with frequently using the word bruh (“expressing amazement or shock”) in conversation.What is a UWU girl? ›
“Uwu girls” are e-girls who have adopted both the emoticon and its cutesy connotations to an extreme extent, often speaking and acting with exaggerated innocence or with juvenile mannerisms perceived as cute.Why do boys pick on girls? ›
It's common for the bullying and hurtful comments to start as teasing and escalate from there. Boys who bully and relentlessly pick on girls continue to do so because they are getting a reaction that is favorable for them. Meaning, it is obviously the target is hurt and upset, feeling weak. This makes them feel better.Why simping is bad? ›
People may simp out of fear that they won't measure up if they don't give into their desires, so they become willing to submit themselves to another person as a way to feel accepted and validated. Unfortunately, simping can lead to unhealthy relationships where one partner has power over the other.
There's a good girl!: You are behaving well! You are being obedient or well-behaved!What does pick me mean? ›
What is a pick me girl or boy? Someone who is “pick me” is someone that deliberately exhibits behaviour that attempts to appease others (most often the opposite sex), whilst acting as if they're completely unaware that this is what they're doing… even though they definitely are.What does NFS stand for? ›
NFS, or Network File System, was designed in 1984 by Sun Microsystems. This distributed file system protocol allows a user on a client computer to access files over a network in the same way they would access a local storage file.What does NFS mean in a text? ›
NFS is sometimes short for “New friends” when texting or on social media. Sometimes, NFS means someone is looking for new friends. They might post on TikTok, Twitter, or Facebook that they want, or even need, new friends.What does 3 man means? ›
Three man (also referred to as Mr. Three, diamyo, or hat man) is a drinking game played with two dice. It can be played with at least three people but some consider it better with around five. Three man.Am I just simping? ›
If you're simping, you're embodying the values of the simp, and brown nosing to get attention and relationships. According to a TikTok posted by NoChillTy, these are some obvious markers of a simp: Always doing the most for a female that doesn't like them.Do girls like having SIMPs? ›
Another reason why women are repulsed by SIMPs is that women are attracted to the virtue of independence in a man. It's difficult for a woman to be attracted to men who are dependent on someone else's approval for his sense of self-purpose. Women are attracted to the virtue of independence in a man.How to make girls simp over you? ›
Flirt with her.
Don't make overly sexual comments or insult the girl when you're really just trying to tease her; instead, give her cute compliments and even laugh at yourself a little bit to make her see that you like her and don't take the whole flirting thing too seriously.
Girls aren't naturally attracted to simps from what I gather. However, they may like having them around, for a nice dose of validation every now and then. Especially on social media, it helps them feel good about their personal image. However, don't expect a girl to like a simp because he's a simp, that's just weird.Does simping mean crushing? ›
“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.
informal. : a stupid or silly person : fool, simpleton. … they could easily find some nincompoop to give them yet more money …What is the opposite of simping? ›
Anti-simping, sometimes known as reverse simping, is the act of attempting to provoke a response and gain attention from female posters by being overtly hostile towards them. It is the opposite of simping.What is the urban dictionary for simp? ›
According to Urban Dictionary, a simp is “someone who does way too much for a person they like” . Simping, meanwhile, is a verb describing the action of being a simp, meaning sucking up, schmoozing or otherwise pining over a romantic interest.Can you be a simp in a relationship? ›
Yes, you can. To be a simp for another girl isn't a hard task to do as we young boys/men have an attraction for another, but I personally wouldn't recommend it as doing so could lead to consequences with your relationship.How do you compliment someone without being a simp? ›
- Be Unique.
- Be Sincere.
- Don't Just Compliment Physical Appearance.
- Don't Be Too Literal.
- Beware of Backhanded Compliments.
- Context is Key.
- Catcalls are NOT Compliments.
The simp is a clinger who hangs on to his woman's every word. He will try to monopolize her time and energy and often treats her person as personal property. The nice guy, on the other hand, is not a clinger. Still, people frequently don't give him enough attention or time to execute the 'cling.What do you call a woman that sleeps around? ›
noun. Definition of prostitute. as in hooker. a woman who engages in sexual activities for money was caught procuring the services of a prostitute. Synonyms & Similar Words.What are the signs when a man is obsessed with a woman? ›
Signs of an obsessive lover
* Feeling of “ownership” over another person. Feeling extremely jealous if they interact with other people. * Having extremely strong feelings towards the other person even without having spent much time with them.
/kəʊˈkɛt/ Other forms: coquetting; coquettes; coquetted. A coquette is a flirt, a girl or woman who knows how to flatter and manipulate men with her charms in order to get what she wants.How do you know if a guy is a simp? ›
A simping guy will go above and beyond to impress the girl he's hoping to win over. He'll constantly be talking himself up, making his job sound more important than it is, or dress to the high nines just for her. He'll do all of this without ever wanting to be impressed himself.
- 1 Thank them for kind gestures and move on.
- 2 Tell them you're not available.
- 3 Be honest that you don't like them.
- 4 Ignore their advances and comments.
- 5 Tell them which behaviors aren't acceptable.
- 6 Act unimpressed by everything.
- 7 Stop accepting gifts and favors.