Internet Debate: Does the ‘H’ in IMHO Stand For ‘Humble’ Or ‘Honest’?
IMHO. It comes with a question that has been debated since time immemorial – like the color of tennis balls or the age of the woman in that one picture. The question is: “What does the H stand for?”
This started with the folks over at Buzzfeed, who got into a heated debate this week over the abbreviation IMHO. Some of them were sure it stood for In My Humble Opinion, while others were convinced that it’s In My Honest Opinion, and it was way more divisive than any of us thought.
Buzzfeed’s poll has had nearly 70,000 votes, and 58% say it’s “honest” and 42% say it’s “humble”, and if you think “who cares, it doesn’t matter” – you’re wrong. It matters a lot. Because “Humble” and “Honest” mean two very different things.
Saying “In My Humble Opinion” is almost being a little ironic – since you’re expressing your opinion online, you’re by definition not being humble, but it’s also suggesting, “Hey, this is just my humble opinion…take it with a grain of salt.” “In My Honest Opinion” is pretty much just “in my opinion”, because why would you give your opinion if it’s not honest.
To try and solve this problem, The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal went to the earliest sources she could find. It was a glossary from PC Magazine from 1986 with a list of commonplace acronyms in the scary world of this new thing called the Internet, and right there in black and white is IMHO: “In My Humble Opinion.”
Now, Madrigal also links to the Oxford English Dictionary to back up her “humble” claim. And interestingly, though Oxford lists “In My Humble Opinion” as its primary definition, its example from a Usenet group in 1984 says “in my honest opinion.”
So, this debate has been going on for 30 years and we didn’t even know it!
In fairness to The Atlantic, though “honest” may have appeared first, the majority of guides in the 80s and 90s to “netspeak” list “humble” as the primary use of the ‘H’ in “IMHO.”
Buzzfeed’s Tracy Clayton has a pretty good theory about how the confusion came to be. She tweets:
So, there you go. Officially, by standards of the dictionary, it’s “In My Humble Opinion,” but does that mean that the other 58% are wrong? After all, the meanings of words and phrases change all the time!
”Thongs” used to only refer to flip-flops. Someone in the 1960s wouldn’t know what you’re talking about if you say your thong is riding up your butt. So, if you want it to be “in my honest opinion,” let it be that! F*ck conformity!
What do you guys think? Is it “In My Humble Opinion” or “In My Honest Opinion”?
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