Where/when did the phrase "Fuck the World" originate? It is often abbreviated "F.T.W." which is also used for "For the win".

  • 1
    Relevant question for the "for the win" meaning.
    – Dispenser
    Apr 9, 2018 at 15:48
  • I'll be interested to know whether it has a discernible origin. "Fuck [something]" is quite a productive formula, and I'll be surprised if anyone can point to the very first time someone happened to stick "the world" after it. Maybe there's a particular use that happened to capture an unusual level of attention, giving it meme status. Apr 9, 2018 at 17:25

2 Answers 2


I thought I had first encountered FTW in Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971), in a quote about the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang, but I don't have the book handy to check. The Rolling Stone copy doesn't have the quote. Perhaps I am misremembering which HST work it was; he also wrote a 1966 book called Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, which is more likely to contain this abbreviation. The full text of Hell's Angels may or may not be online, but this link also does not contain the quote.

However, Google books has a snippet of The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English, which dates the abbreviation FTW to 1972, definitely tying it to outlaw motorcycle gangs:

used as a defiant stance against everything -- fuck the world
US, 1972

  • Both of them were heavily and inexpertly tattooed with such epithets as "loser" and "FTW" which stands for "Fuck The World." -- John Aitken, Conversations, p. 8, 1978
  • "That FTW is what's on the T-shirt out there on Mits. What is it?" -- John D. MacDonald, Free Fall in Crimson, p. 96, 1981
  • "Fuck the World" (FTW) is their motto and arrogant attitude by which this sub-culture attains its goals and objectives. -- Paladin Press, Inside Look at Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, p. 14, 1992
  • -- Bill Valentine, Gangs and Their Tattoos, p. x, 2000
  • He noted that Jessie had several tattoos, including one on his right arm that said "FTW" (it was noted that that stood for "Fuck the World"). -- Mara Leveritt, Devil's Knot, p. 76, 2002

Interestingly, right above that is the abbreviation FTA, which at 1962 predates FTW and refers to the Army. It's possible that the biker gangs extrapolated FTA into FTW.


I first encountered "FTW" as an abbreviation for the phrase in question when it came up in Penelope Spheeris's great documentary about the Los Angeles punk rock scene, The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization (1980), in the context of a tattoo that is being inked on the arm of some band or entourage member of the group X. The explanation comes at 7:53 of the linked video. I strongly suspect that "FTW" as a short form of "For the Win" had not emerged at this date, since the implications of the latter meaning run seriously counter to the nihilism of the punk ethos.

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