Why is this Swedish expression so popular on Tiktok?

Image via TikTok

If you’ve fulfilled your downtime by scrolling relentlessly TIC Tac lately – and who among us hasn’t? – you may have noticed a new ubiquitous phrase that left you perplexed. This is not the first time that a new phrase or term has appeared in popular consciousness from the user video service. Do you remember “naur”? No? okay, well, let us at least clear up “abow” for you.

“Abow” is exploding due to its prominence in ShantiiP and TarioP’s song “Throw it Back”, one of the most ubiquitous music tracks on the platform – it has been used in over 10,000 videos. While there is no specific dance trend after the song, the posters put special emphasis on the song’s weird new terminology.

Disclaimer: The song contains a fairly extensive use of profanity.

So what does this mean? Well, many users don’t seem to know or care, while some even falsely attribute the origin of the term to Arabic or Turkish, but the phrase actually comes from the same place that brought us IKEA and smorgasbord, in Sweden. It is an idiom which means “damn” or “wow”.

It’s unclear how much the term will lock itself into the general vocabulary of American teens. It might be as durable as “cool,” but it’s just as likely to become incomprehensible again to anyone except a Swede, given the normal lifespan of a TikTok trend. The #abow hashtag has over 57 million views and is currently counting, so we can only wait and see if the term becomes mainstream.

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