SMH – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you seen something that is so strange (or so disappointing) that you just had to shake your head at it? You could use the term ‘smh’ to let others know what you mean. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The term ‘smh’ is a common text-based abbreviation that is often used on the internet as a shorter way to indicate “shaking my head” when in conversation or as a tag.

‘Smh’ means that someone is surprised or disappointed in something.

The term can be used as a comment, but is also just as commonly used as a tag and conversational abbreviation in any forms of IM.

The term ‘smh’ is used to express the almost universal head-shaking movement when people are surprised, astonished or disappointed at something.

In some ways, the term ‘smh’ is similar to ‘omg!’ in its basic meaning.

Like most text-based abbreviations that include ‘lol’, the meaning is metaphorical more than it is a physical head-shaking movement that happens every time the expression is read somewhere.

Sometimes the term ‘smdh’ is alternatively used to say “shaking my damn head” to someone.

Example Usage

“It turns out that the Chihuahua is actually a type of dog that lives deep in the mountains, and they travel and hunt in large packs. Talk about safety in large numbers. #smh”

“If you want to see something that can be described as a hot mess, all you have to do is call Joseph’s mother and ask her to cook something. #smh”

“There’s not much you can do when your grandfather tells you he’s been  on Tinder and asks you how to recover his password. The man needed some help. #smh”

“If you don’t know what your grandmother puts in her cupcakes, asking them is just going to get you a big #smh with no real answer. They’ll claim it’s a secret ingredient every time and you’ll get nothing else out of them.”


The term ‘smh’ is a common text-based abbreviation that is likely to have originated with other early text abbreviations such as “lol” and “lmfao”.

The most common given origin for early text-based abbreviations is that they were created to save time through text messages and online IM channels.

Text-based abbreviations such as these became more common as the use of texting became more widespread, and ‘smh’ would continue to be used as a text-based abbreviation on websites like TikTok and Twitter after this.

It’s most likely that the term ‘smh’ appeared sometime in the 1990s and spread from there, though the exact origin and first use of the term is not documented. The term ‘smh’ would again become popular through social media websites like TikTok in the 2020s.

The term ‘smdh’ stands for “Shaking My Damn Head” and it’s likely to have originated at the same time as the original expression on the internet.

Phrases Similar to Smh

  • smdh

Phrases Opposite to Smh

  • N/a

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Smh
  • SMH
  • smh

Ways People May Say Smh Incorrectly

There are several different ways in which someone might use the term ‘smh’ in the wrong way, especially if they do not understand the meaning or the context.

Some internet resources erroneously claim that the term stands for “something” but the term is almost never actually used this way. Most instances of ‘smh’ stand for “shaking my head”.

The term is meant to be used as an exclamation of astonishment or surprise, and any other use of the term is just likely to confuse.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Smh

The correct way to phrase the term ‘smh’ is to use it as an abbreviation for “shaking my head” in conversation, or as a tag.

The term is used to mean astonishment, surprise or disappointment when speaking to someone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *