It's a slang phrase, I believe. However, wanting to know something new won't hurt, right? I've seen many people use this phrase, but I still don't get how to use it.

I, first, saw this phrase on Facebook. It was a maths meme. The meme was about a difficult problem that's unlikely to be solved by hand. Someone commented Wolfram Alpha goes brrr (I hope I remember the comment correctly). By the way, Wolfram Alpha is an advanced engine to compute something related to maths and preferable to use rather than solving by hand.

So, that's the context. I've done searching for a topic related to this phrase, here. From what I've understood so far, this phrase is used when someone introduces a more effective way to solve a problem. Is that correct?

Suppose, my friend has difficulty peeling an orange by his hands, can I say:

Haha a knife goes brrr

I mean, is this phrase even used in spoken English (very informally)?


"Goes" in this context means "says" or "makes the sound". "Brr" is often used to indicate the sound of a machine working. Like we'll describe a car engine as "going brr". So "something goes brrr" means "something makes a working-machine noise". ("Brr" is also used to describe the sound people make when they are very cold and shivering, but that doesn't fit in this context.)

I'm not aware of this being any sort of stock phrase or idiom. Maybe it's a common phrase in some group or sub-culture, but not in common English usage.

So if I was in a conversation and someone described a better way of doing a job, and someone else said, "I go brr" or some such, I'd take that to mean, "I am working on the problem with this new solution". But it would be a very whimsical and informal way of saying that. Maybe even a bit cryptic: I'd wonder, is that what he means, or does he mean ... something else?

I would definitely not use this in a general conversation. It's a cute turn of phrase, but it's not commonly used or understood, and it is very informal.

  • 3
    It's a meme that started with "Money printer go brrr".
    – ColleenV
    Oct 14 '21 at 15:00
  • 2
    @ColleenV Okay, I'll buy that. I think my original point stands: Most Americans would not have heard this.
    – Jay
    Oct 14 '21 at 17:39
  • 1
    Yes, I agree -- and most people even if they had heard of it wouldn't use it in conversation. Generally when people riff on a meme, they do it in meme format (an image with text usually).
    – ColleenV
    Oct 14 '21 at 18:55
  • I would say it's relatively well-known phrase based on a relatively well-known meme, depending on how involved in internet and meme culture your group of interest is. If you took a sample of 18-25yo Reddit or Tumblr users I would guess most would recognize it. In a sample of 60-70yo Facebook users, most might not.
    – randomhead
    Oct 14 '21 at 21:21
  • @randomhead I don't doubt that the phrase might be well known among a sufficiently specific sub-culture. There are many words and phrases that would be instantly recognized by a certain clique but would be totally unknown to others. Personally I'd never heard of this as a stock phrase before reading this post. But I have only visited Reddit a handful of times and Tumblr never. And I am ever so much more than 20. If I said that the answer to your question is 42 that allusion would be recognized by many science fiction fans, probably not anyone else. ...
    – Jay
    Oct 15 '21 at 3:32

It is not generally used in Spoken or written English.

This is a reference to a meme: "Money printer go brrr" Which is about printing money to solve problems (with the implied satire on the idea that just printing more money ever solves anything) If the other person doesn't know the meme, then "... goes brrr" is completely meaningless.

The meme is about taking a shortcut that is ultimately damaging.

This is a difficult maths problem.

Ha Ha WolframAlpha goes brrr

(Wolfram Alpha will solve the problem in the short term, but you won't gain the algebra skills that you would if you worked out the problem by hand.)

It is vaguely appropriate to say "Wolfram Alpha goes brrr" since it is a complex computer server, that you could imagine making a "brrr" noise as it works. A knife is very simple, and there is no satirical point about "using a knife is a simple solution but using it would cause problems in the future".

So, no, It makes no sense to say "knife goes brrr", even assuming that the other person knows the meme.


The only sense I know for brrr is this one:
Lexico brrr
Used to express someone's reaction to feeling cold.
‘Brrr! It's a freezing cold day’

It's intended to indicate shivering, or teeth chattering.

Someone may have used this to represent the sound of a machine solving a problem efficiently, but it's not a typical use. Whether that meaning was intended depends on whether the user meant that Wolfram Alpha solved the problem, or couldn't solve it.

I don't recommend using the phrase except according to the dictionary definition.

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