Not only is my seventh grader using this phrase, but her teachers are as well.

I suppose it means I totally agree with you and you totally agree with me but it sounds like there is a subtle Is that okay? at the end with the right part.

What do you think?

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    next time you hear this, say "Word" :D
    – roman m
    Oct 21, 2010 at 22:30

10 Answers 10


I would say that it doesn't signify is that okay? so much as tell me more.

It also suggests empathy in addition to agreement. To me, it seems roughly equivalent to I totally agree with you, you know? In addition to sharing the opinion, it also subtly connotes that both parties arrived at the same conclusion, possibly in the same way.

  • 1
    I agree with @Warrior Bob, the "right" connotes a subtle agreement, along the lines of "don't you hate it when that happens?" However, there'a a lot of room for interpretation in this, and I look forward to seeing what others say. Sep 3, 2010 at 16:51
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    I'd disagree with tell me more. I'd compare with the Japanese sentence suffix which softens a phrase, or the Canadian eh or the American, huh. I know, right? is a soft question after hearing the details. I know, tell me more is an request for more details.
    – OneProton
    Feb 16, 2016 at 5:37

Slightly OT, but it reminds me of the similar (but not identical) Canadian English phrase:

That's cool, eh?

It's a sentence softener... and a way to get general acceptance from the person you are speaking with.

Anyway, best described with an example:

girl 1: That's girl's outfit is SO ugly!

girl 2: OMG, how does she even live with herself?

girl 1: I know, right? She is SOooo uncool.

"I know" can be a strong statement, so adding the question "right?" is a way of getting general acceptance from the other person.

  • +1: As soon as I read the question I thought of "eh?"
    – rownage
    Jan 13, 2011 at 21:00

It seems to me that "right?" is a way of creating a bond between the two people talking. I usually hear it in the context of sharing some fact that you wouldn't tell someone to his/her face, e.g. "How does she even live with herself?" from Atomix's example. It's like saying, "Right? We share this idea and therefore we are similar and should be friends."


Emphatic agreement in a youthful, maybe feminine register.

  • 1
    Concur with youthful, disagree with feminine - I've heard both young men and young women use it. ' Nov 5, 2012 at 16:39

I visited because I'm using the phrase myself and have been doing so for about a year. I moved to NYC about three years ago, and I'm wondering where this particular phrase came from in my vocabulary. I really like it. For me, it does indicate collusion ("I know") and a request that the collusion be validated ("right?"). However, I believe the expectation of validation is already implied because the rising action of "right?" is generally very subtle and casual on my part. I'm expecting the person to already validate my attempt at collusion.

The phrase also seems chummy, a way of saying in shorthand, "I agree with you completely and therefore we are kindred spirits." I usually say it almost as a bestowal of praise upon the other person, as if to say, "What a wonderful person I have found who validates my existence so completely with their similar thoughts on things that I had not expected people to think similarly about. What a pleasant surprise!" Anyway, those are just my thoughts. It probably did become abundant because of television, but it definitely seeems like something that would arise in either the Midwest, Deep South, or California (all of which I have ties to) because of a need in those areas to validate community over individuality and that I would feel more compelled to use in the Northeast, where I might feel isolated and want to frequently make references to ways that I might bond or fit in with others in my community.


It is a friendly assertion that the speaker has already had the same idea–as in, "yeah, I know"

According to Urbandictionary its,

An affirmation that you agree with or can relate to the preceding statement. It can be used whether the speaker actually knows or not, but in the latter case it usually means that the speaker can attribute the preceding statement to themselves as well.

Some examples include,

Student: I couldn't pay attention to the lecture because of that ball of sweat hanging from the professor's nose.

Classmate: I know, right?

Carrie: I can't belive Alvin cut her hair like that!
Lisha: I know, right?


I know; right?

I think we can break the slangy idiom “I know, right?” down into two parts:

  • I know (that). ― I get what you mean. I've had the same thought. I've been aware of it as well.
  • (Yeah, it is,) right? ― It is really so, right?

By the literal interpretation of the sentence, it could grammatically mean to ask whether the speaker, “I,” knows something or not; albeit not making much sense in the context. So it would be reasonable to consider it to be a combined contraction of the two sentences above showing the consentience between the speaker and the lister(s).

And “I know; right?” might be more preferable punctuation in this sense.

  • Can you explain why you prefer a semicolon here? I have never seen a semicolon used in this expression.
    – Laurel
    Aug 25, 2018 at 21:23
  • @Laurel Notwithstanding it being a single sentence, as I described above, its two parts, “I know” and “right,” have nothing to do with each other to be properly understood. They are separate in meaning, virtually two different sentences. I think a comma does not have enough strength to semantically separate the two and avoid misunderstanding. “The semicolon falls between terminal marks and the comma;” (The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Chapter 19, §7.) that's why I prefer a semicolon for this. ― Provided that my interpretation for it holds true. Aug 25, 2018 at 22:21
  • I'm pretty sure "right" here is a tag question, which are connected to the rest of a sentence with a comma. (It is weird though that tag questions only need a comma, isn't it?)
    – Laurel
    Aug 25, 2018 at 22:35
  • @Laurel The thing is that “I know, right?” itself does not make much sense not in this way. Surely is the “right” a tag question, but the statement tagged to has been omitted by the context and “I know” is not the statement. Aug 25, 2018 at 22:53
  • Besides of it, @Laurel, I am sorry if I sounded a bit rude by accident. I couldn't quite get what you meant. I'd like to say that all these sayings are just my personal thoughts. Aug 25, 2018 at 23:12

About 20 years ago there was an idiom that I observed that people used for agreement with a statement. "I know that's right!" with particular emphasis on "that's". I wonder if what you're asking about is a combination of a shortening of that with the fairly recent tendency among some to make every statement sound like a question (with a rising pitch) as if the speaker lacks confidence in what they're saying.

  • 2
    @kiamlaluno: There's no point in converting text in quotes to italicised text. If you do find it necessary for some reason, please skip my postings. Sep 6, 2010 at 21:31
  • 1
    As a sometime user of this phrase, I don't think it's a shortening of the longer "I know that's right." In fact, I would say @altie has the most succinct description :)
    – morganpdx
    Jan 13, 2011 at 22:42

I think it doesn't mean anything, it's just become an expression, because young people seem to enjoy talking in "code".

  • Sure, it may not be literal, but what does that code mean?
    – Mitch
    Mar 23, 2014 at 16:11
  • 1
    All language is code. It's encoded from thoughts in your brain, coded into ideas, then into words and then into sounds. Those sounds are then decoded into words, and then into thoughts. Language IS all about providing a medium to encode and decode ideas from person to person.
    – OneProton
    Feb 16, 2016 at 5:42

I would perseive it as

"I know it, did you hear me?"

"Stop telling this to me, it unnecessarily bothers me because I already know it"

  • I think you're dead wrong with this interpretation. In my experience, the intention of the phrase isn't to shut down conversation like that, but to show empathy with the speaker.
    – ghoppe
    Mar 23, 2014 at 16:45
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    @ghoppe From most sources, it seems obvious that this is the common interpretation, no arguing about that. For some reason though, I (Czech native speaker) just as Annix also fell for that interpretation and find it really hard to shake it off. (Will work on it, I promise!) Jun 12, 2016 at 4:37

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