The Origins And Meanings Behind Using ‘F’ To Pay Respects Online

The internet is filled with slang, acronyms, and inside jokes that can sometimes feel impenetrable to outsiders. One of the most well-known examples is the use of ‘F’ as an expression of respect or mourning on discussion forums, social media, and in video games.

But where did this phenomenon come from, and what does it really mean?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Pressing ‘F’ to pay respects originated from a prompt in the 2014 video game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare that instructed players to ‘Press F to Pay Respects’ during a scripted funeral scene.

It quickly became an internet meme and shorthand for mourning someone’s death or showing sympathy.

The Origins of ‘Press F to Pay Respects’

The phrase “Press F to pay respects” originated from the popular video game, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. In a specific scene from the game, players attend a military funeral where they are prompted to press the ‘F’ key on their keyboard to pay their respects to a fallen comrade.

This interactive moment became a meme within the gaming community, and eventually spread beyond gaming circles to become a widely recognized phrase online.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Funeral Scene

In the funeral scene of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, players are taken through a somber moment where they witness the burial of a fallen soldier. As a way to engage players and create a sense of immersion, the game prompts them to press the ‘F’ key on their keyboard to pay their respects.

This simple action became a memorable part of the game and sparked a humorous and somewhat ironic response from players. People started jokingly using the phrase “Press F to pay respects” outside of the game, particularly in situations where someone or something had met an unfortunate end.

How the Meme Spread Online

As with many internet memes, the phrase “Press F to pay respects” quickly spread beyond the gaming community. It became a way for people to express condolences or acknowledge a loss in a lighthearted manner.

The meme gained traction on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Reddit, where users would comment “Press F to pay respects” in response to news of a celebrity’s death, the cancellation of a beloved TV show, or even the demise of a favorite character in a book or movie.

The simplicity of the phrase, combined with its association with a widely played video game, made it easy for people to understand and participate in the meme. It became a way to show solidarity with others in the face of loss, albeit in a somewhat unconventional and humorous way.

Over time, the phrase “Press F to pay respects” has become a cultural reference that extends beyond the gaming world. It is often used ironically or as a humorous way to acknowledge a situation that calls for respect or sympathy.

While its origins may lie in a serious moment within a video game, the phrase has taken on a life of its own and continues to be used in various online conversations.

Meanings and Usage of ‘F’ as an Online Tribute

The letter ‘F’ has become a widely recognized symbol online, often used to pay respects or show sympathy in various situations. Its origins can be traced back to the popular video game ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’ released in 2014, where players were prompted to press the ‘F’ key on their keyboards to pay respects at a virtual funeral.

Since then, the use of ‘F’ as a tribute has spread to other online platforms, becoming a unique form of online expression.

Mourning Deaths and Tragedies

One of the primary meanings behind using ‘F’ as an online tribute is to express condolences and respect for the deceased. When someone shares news of a loss or a tragic event, it has become common for others to respond with a simple ‘F’ as a way to acknowledge and honor the person or people affected.

This gesture serves as a digital equivalent of offering flowers or attending a funeral in real life, demonstrating support and empathy during difficult times.

Showing Sympathy for Minor Failures and Setbacks

Aside from mourning deaths, ‘F’ is also used to show sympathy for minor failures or setbacks. For example, if someone shares a story about a personal or professional disappointment, others may comment with an ‘F’ to convey empathy and understanding.

It serves as a lighthearted way to acknowledge someone’s struggle and offer support, often accompanied by words of encouragement. This usage has become particularly popular in online gaming communities, where players use ‘F’ to console each other after a defeat or an unfortunate turn of events.

Variations Like ‘o7’ and Other Single-Letter Tributes

Besides ‘F’, there are other variations and single-letter tributes used online to convey similar meanings. One such example is ‘o7’, which originated from the game ‘EVE Online’ and represents a person saluting or paying respects.

Similarly, ‘R’ is sometimes used to signify respect, inspired by the phrase “press R to pay respects” from the game ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’. These variations and single-letter tributes have emerged as a way to express solidarity and sympathy in a concise yet meaningful manner.

Cultural Significance and Impact

Using ‘F’ to pay respects online has gained significant cultural significance and has made a noticeable impact on internet culture. This seemingly simple gesture has become deeply ingrained in online communities and is often used to express sympathy or condolences.

However, its meaning and impact have been the subject of debate.

Debate Over Trivializing Serious Events

One of the main points of contention surrounding the use of ‘F’ to pay respects online is the concern that it may trivialize serious events. Some argue that reducing the act of paying respects to a single letter or emoji can diminish the gravity and significance of the event being acknowledged.

Critics argue that it can be seen as a lazy or insincere gesture, lacking the depth and emotion that a more thoughtful response would convey.

On the other hand, proponents of using ‘F’ argue that it is a way to quickly and easily show support and solidarity in a digital space. They argue that the intention behind using ‘F’ is still genuine, and that the brevity of the gesture does not necessarily mean a lack of empathy or understanding.

In fact, they argue that the widespread adoption of ‘F’ as a sign of respect demonstrates the collective consciousness and unity of online communities.

Ultimately, the debate over trivializing serious events through the use of ‘F’ is subjective and depends on individual perspectives and cultural contexts. It is important to recognize that different people may interpret and use ‘F’ in different ways, and that its meaning can vary from one online community to another.

Integrating Internet Culture into Mainstream

The use of ‘F’ to pay respects online also reflects the integration of internet culture into the mainstream. As internet culture continues to influence and shape popular culture, it is not surprising to see online expressions and symbols being adopted and understood by wider audiences.

With the rise of social media platforms and the increasing digitalization of communication, internet-specific gestures and symbols like ‘F’ have found their way into everyday conversations, both online and offline.

This integration highlights the power of the internet to create and disseminate new forms of communication and expression.

Moreover, the adoption of ‘F’ as a sign of respect demonstrates the fluidity and adaptability of language and symbols. It showcases how internet culture has evolved to develop its own unique set of symbols and gestures that are understood and used by millions of people worldwide.

Alternatives and Evolution of the Meme

While ‘F’ has become a popular way to pay respects online, it is by no means the only option available. Internet culture is constantly evolving, and with it comes new ways to express emotions and sentiments.

In the world of online tributes, users have come up with various alternatives to ‘F’ that add a touch of creativity and humor to the act of paying respects.

Other Ways to Pay Online Tributes

One alternative that has gained traction is the use of the letter ‘E’. This stems from a humorous modification of the traditional ‘F’ tribute, where users jokingly claim they are paying respects in a different language.

The ‘E’ tribute has become quite popular in certain online communities, adding a playful twist to the act of expressing condolences.

Another adaptation that has emerged is the use of the word ‘oof’ to pay respects. This term originated from the gaming community, where it is often used to express sympathy for a player who has experienced a defeat or setback.

The term has since transcended gaming and found its way into the wider internet culture, becoming a lighthearted way to show support or empathy.

Adaptations Like ‘E’ and ‘Oof’

The evolution of online tributes demonstrates the creative and adaptable nature of internet culture. It is fascinating to see how a simple meme like ‘F’ can inspire variations that capture the imagination of users and spread like wildfire across different platforms.

Whether it’s the use of ‘E’ or ‘oof’, these adaptations serve as a testament to the ingenuity and humor of online communities.

It’s worth noting that while these alternatives may seem lighthearted, they still carry a genuine sentiment of paying respects. They provide a unique way for individuals to express their condolences or show empathy in a manner that aligns with the language and humor of the online world.

For more information on internet culture and the evolution of memes, you can visit Know Your Meme, a website dedicated to documenting and analyzing internet phenomena.


While using ‘F’ to pay respects may have started as an in-joke among gamers, it has evolved into a sincere, if succinct, way for people across the internet to express sympathy and commemorate loss. Like many memes, it captures the creativity of online culture and how people forge shared bonds through even simple bits of shared meaning.

And as with most internet traditions, we can expect the meaning and usage of ‘F’ to continue shifting over time as well.

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