What does "confused TF" mean?

Here is the article named "Meghan Markle Apparently Confused TF Out of an Eavesdropper by Talking a Lot on Double Date in NYC". I have read through it, but I still don't get what "confused TF" means.


2 Answers 2


"TF" is an abbreviation used in certain parts of the internet to mean "the fuck". Its origin as a recognizable acronym possibly comes from the more common abbreviation "WTF", which is short for "What the fuck?" (an expression of intense confusion and possibly anger) "What the fuck?" itself sometimes is shortened to just "the fuck?" in some circumstances, as if it's too much effort to add the word "what" to the beginning because you are so bewildered.

Fuck is one of the most versatile and confusing words in the English language. It is an obscenity, (or expletive, or swear word, or just "bad word") and is almost never acceptable to be used in polite company or in the presence of children, but abbreviations such as TF can mask the obscenity and make it more acceptable to be used in larger audiences.

If you look up "fuck" in the dictionary, you are going to find a LONG list of possible meanings, and the most literal meaning (to copulate, or to have sex) will not make any sense here. You can more generally understand the word to be a very rude intensifier.

In this sentence, to "confuse the fuck out of {someone}" simply means to confuse someone very very strongly, so that they don't have any idea what is happening.

Compare: "beat the fuck out of {someone or something}", in which an extreme level of physical violence is used, or "enjoy the fuck out of {object or activity}" which means to have an extreme level of happiness from doing something.

  • 4
    Ah, now it's clear. Thank you very much! I, of course, knew that word, but I ruled that one out from the outset thinking that there was no way that word would appear in a newspaper title.
    – brilliant
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 6:04
  • 14
    Internet news can be a very different place from newspaper news, or television news, both of which may have actual standards. There may also be more pressure from publishers to be "more in touch with internet slang" in order to look more popular, despite being potentially offensive. The abbreviation pushes them towards "more popular" without crossing the line of actually spelling out the word "fuck", but I also wouldn't expect to find "TF" in any respectable news source either. Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 6:07
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    If you look closely you can see that Yahoo News took the article from Cosmopolitan magazine. The piece is written in a very informal conversational style (it also includes the word "obvi" = "obviously"; "all kinds of tea" = "all kinds of news/gossip"; "tragically" = "unfortunately", etc).
    – rjpond
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 7:19
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    Also "AF" usually means "as fuck". I read the math homework and I was confused af.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 15:32
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    @RichardWinters eh, it's creeping far beyond the internet. Just the other month CNN got a professor to say "scared shitless" on a broadcast (and NPR covered it on one of theirs, albeit censored). Of course that's cable news where there have always been less restrictions, but you still wouldn't have heard something like that in the past. -- twitter.com/johnberman/status/1423267499227942914
    – eps
    Commented Sep 27, 2021 at 18:24

There's no pre-established meaning -- it's a new use of words that a native speaker could probably figure out.

We often say something "scared the hell out" of us, or "confused the hell out of me". Sometimes we say "heck" instead. Those are just fun ways of saying "very scared" or "very confused". People sometimes mix it up, maybe "scared the poop out of me" or "I was confused as shit". There are a lot of other vulgar words you could use: crap, piss, or fuck. They all simply mean "very" in this context.

So "confused the fuck out of" is something many people might not say, but they'd understand what it meant. "TF" is not an acronym. No one would know what TF stood for by itself. But writing "confused TF out of" in a headline is a way to grab someone's attention with something they've never seen but could probably figure out. It seems clever. It's wordplay aimed at native speakers who are frequent internet readers.

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    it's a well-established abbreviation
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 3:28
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    @Fattie Something can be "well-established" in some niche, but still not part of common English language. TPK, for example, which is much better sourced than TF. Even the more well-known WTF already seems more internet slang than English slang. Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 5:31
  • @OwenReynolds It's enough part of the English language that Cosmopolitan would see fit to use it in the title for an article. Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 11:23
  • @OwenReynolds: What does "TPK" mean? acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/TPK Those Pesky Kidz? Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 12:54
  • @TripleAntigen You may be confused by the magazine's title. The last Cosmo article I read suggested if you're getting naked in front of a man for the 1st time and are nervous about your small breasts, put his face in them right away. It was pretty typical, for Cosmo. The magazine is aimed at young, liberated women and likes to just throw stuff out there. Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 21:22

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