The Origin of #icmf

Maybe you’ve seen it in a tweet. Maybe that tweet was one of mine, maybe it wasn’t. It gets around.

I’m writing, of course, of the hashtag #icmf, which was born of need and spread by joy. If only so I have someplace to point future generations to when they ask me about it, I now tell you the origins of #icmf.

Beware: foul language follows.

There I was, sitting at my computer, composing a tweet and fretting about foul language. How would my followers react if I used the word motherfucker in a tweet? Would they bail on me? Would I get angry replies? Would anyone notice?

Curious, I deleted the tweet I was composing and instead asked the question: Is it all right if I use foul language — like motherfucker — in my tweets? Then I waited for the responses to come in.

A note, here: I’m a big fan of cussing. I’m no Chuck Wendig, but I’m quick to cuss in person. “Well, shit,” I say. “Son of a fucking bitch!” I yell. “That? Yeah, fuck that shit,” I suggest, pointing to a stupid headline, a broken appliance, or the rambling fuckwit in the mirror. Yet, still, I hold certain key words and phrases in reserve, for maximum impact when I do deploy them.

But, yes, I regard a public venue like Twitter differently than I do casually gabbing with friends or strangers in person. So I was eager to hear whether people would be offended by a motherfucker here or there on Twitter.

As I recall it, the response was uniformly positive. Nobody told me they’d bail because of a motherfucker. A couple of people — more than one — said they’d follow me “twice,” if they could. So we were go for motherfuckers.

A problem, though: motherfuckers is 13 characters. That’s not small change on Twitter. What if I wanted to express a complex, 130-character idea and then underline it with a comma and a motherfucker? I needed something compact. I needed… a hashtag.

Thus #icmf was born.

(As I recall, it debuted at Gen Con the Origins Game Fair, where we also used it in dialogue to avoid offending children.)

#icmf stands for “implicit comma motherfucker” or “, motherfucker.” It allows for emphasis without the direct hit of an F-bomb. It offers a bit of winking politeness with a dash of cussy fun. And, like a bleeped-out obscenity, it’s sometimes just more funny. Plus, it has all the fake hipster insiderdom of a secret handshake. A handshake you are now in on, dear reader.

So go forth and tweet, motherfuckers.


  1. Ryan Macklin, 13. May 2011, 14:36
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    If I recall right, the hashtag was born during a conversation at Origins last year. We talked about how we wished “motherfucker” was a single character.

    - Ryan

  2. Will, 13. May 2011, 14:38
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    Was it Origins? You may be right.

  3. Ryan Macklin, 13. May 2011, 14:42
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    You, me, and maybe Ken Hite or Brennan Taylor were talking around the IPR/Evil Hat corridor about it, if memory serves. The main sensory recall I have are “it wasn’t GenCon busy” and “overhead fluorescent lighting.”

    - Ryan

  4. Peter Hentges, 13. May 2011, 14:43
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    I always read it as “implied comma motherfucker” because all statements are made more awesome by the addition of “, motherfucker” so the awesome statement preceding the hashtag is made EVEN MORE AWESOME! #icmf

  5. Will, 13. May 2011, 14:47
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    @Ryan: I think you’re right. I’ve updated the post.

    @Peter: Then you’ve been reading it exactly right. It’s all about dialing up the awesome. Or even the AWESOME, if you’re into that. #icmf

  6. Jason M, 13. May 2011, 15:24
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    Thanks for explaining this. I always read it as an acronym beginning with “intercontinental”, which may, in its own way, be apt.

  7. Wordstudio: The Gist (Pingback), 14. May 2012, 12:11

    [...] I say that word—settlers—I expect I’ll be ending that sentence with a silent, mental #icmf. Share this: games, geekery, personal drama, the web0 [...]


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