People on Reddit often comment "I lost it" while quoting the funniest part of a joke to highlight how funny that part is. As I don't speak English much, I am not sure if this is Reddit-specific, but I guess not.

Where does this come from? Is it related that laughing from a joke is similar to "losing your mind"? That seems far-fetched. "I lost it" would intuitively mean "the joke stops making sense here" (i.e. "I lost track of the joke here"), which is the exact opposite of what it actually means.

What is the etymology of this phrase?

2 Answers 2


In this context, to lose it means “To lose control; blow up.” Specifically, it means to lose your composure, presumably breaking out into laughter.

You can also “lose it” in anger, grief, or other strong emotions. You’re correct to note the similarity to “losing one’s mind” (which dates to c.1500); “losing one’s temper” is also related. They appear to derive from a slightly earlier sense “fail to maintain.”


It most likely comes from the online imageboard called 4chan, where people play so called "you laugh, you lose" game. Someone posts a funny picture and you have to do your best to not laugh at it. If you fail, you have to post in the thread, saying that you lost (the game).

  • Given that the recent increase of this term predates 4chan, I consider this unlikely.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 8:24
  • @Wrzlprmft Perhaps so, but that does not make this worth deletion. It's got a brief explanation and an okay reference as I see it.
    – NVZ
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 9:50
  • @NVZ: Perhaps so, but that does not make this worth deletion. – No, but the absence of real references does. The link in question does not even contain the phrase in question.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 9:58
  • @Wrzlprmft That is sort of true - about the reference, which is why I downvote it.
    – NVZ
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 10:02
  • I'm less inclined to ask for a reference for an easily disproved solution. This answer could serve some good, if it's a common misconception.
    – jimm101
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 11:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.