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What Does “Take the L” Mean, and How Do You Use It?


Man pointing with loser hand gesture on yellow backdrop

You’re scrolling on Twitter, and someone talks about “taking the L” on a brutal online game. What does it mean, and what’s “L” short for? Here’s what the phrase means and the way you need to use it.

Take the Loss

The act of “taking the L” means taking a loss or losing. Counting on the context, it might probably mean literally failing at something or needing to just accept one’s loss. In some situations, “take an L” may also be a synonym for the idiomatic phrase “taking one for the team.”

Unlike other internet slang terms, the way in which that you just phrase this term varies between people and situations. “Take an L,” “took the L,” and “taking the L” are all valid ways of writing it. For instance, when you’re describing the story of your friend waking up late for a crucial meeting, you may say that “She took the L.”

An L can involve any loss, including those related to sporting competitions, exams, professional endeavors, betting money, and dating. For instance, someone who struck out at flirting with others online may be described as “taking the L.”

Where Does “Take an L” Come from?

The concept of “taking an L” has been around for a very long time. While the phrase didn’t become widely popular until the mid-2010s, the primary definition for it in Urban Dictionary dates back to 2003. The entry reads, “Stands for ‘Take the loss’” and provides an example involving taking an L on a history exam.

The phrase became prominent in various sorts of competitions, including sports tournaments {and professional} gaming. In post-game interviews, athletes would often describe losing as “taking an L,” which was how many individuals were first exposed to the phrase. Eventually, it made its method to social media, especially Twitter, where an “L” has been used to explain a wide range of failures. Should you have a look at the trends chart for the phrase, you may notice that the term gained popularity around 2016 to 2018.

Taking a W

The concept of an “L” to explain a loss comes from sports publications and broadcasts. When the media showed a fast view of a team’s recent games, they showed a “W” or an “L” to indicate a win or a loss. People in sports media, similar to athletes and reporters, eventually started referring to those as Ws and Ls.

People also seek advice from a win as a “W” or a “dub” for brief. If a team wins a game, you may say that they “got a dub” or a “W.” While “W” isn’t quite as common as “taking an L” on the web, you may still find it on social media websites and online sports communities.

Acceptance or Denial

Another way that the phrase is often used is to inform someone that they need to just accept their loss and move on. For instance, if someone has been proven wrong in an argument but refuses to just accept it, other users might tell them to “take the L.” This implies admitting their failure in that situation.

Some people also use it to explain someone who’s looking stupid or pathetic, especially online. For instance, if someone is rude for no real reason, someone might describe them as “taking an L.”

“Take the L” may also be used to explain doing something that you just don’t wish to do. For instance, when you’re bemoaning to a friend how you must go to work early tomorrow, they could let you know, “Just take the L and go to work early.” Whilst you’re not literally “losing,” it describes a situation where you’re doing something unpleasant.

The right way to Use “Take the L”

Use “take the L” in any situation that looks as if an apparent failure. It’s also possible to use it when describing an unpleasant situation or when telling someone that they need to accept a loss. It’s also possible to place a word before L to explain its size or difficulty, similar to a “hard L” or a “big L.”

Listed below are a number of examples of “take the L” in action:

  • “I took an L by completely oversleeping before a crucial meeting.”
  • “My team took a tricky L last night. Hopefully, they’ll get better next time.”
  • “You’re completely wrong here. Just take the L already.”
  • “I do know that it’s hard, but you must take an L sometimes. You possibly can’t win all of them.”

If you desire to learn more about terms which can be popular on social media, then take a look at our articles about sus, GOAT, and catfish.


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