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Tyler Smith Streamer Growth School Owner


Tyler Smith


November 5, 2022

KEKW Meaning & Origin Explained - Emote Guide

Have you seen or used the KEKW emote and wondering what "KEKW" means? Learn the meaning, how to use it, and where the Twitch emote came from.

KEKW emote origin and history


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If you have spent any time in a YouTube or Twitch stream you've likely seen people type "KEKW" or saw the emote of a man's face laughing, and wondered what it meant. In this article I'll cover the origin of KEKW, what it means, and how you can start using the KEKW emote on the Twitch platform.

What does KEKW Mean?

KEKW Meaning

KEKW is an emote that means laughter or laughing and is used to signify that something is funny. It is most commonly used when a streamer does something that the audience finds funny. For example - the streamer makes a joke or does something hilarious and you'll see chat flooded with the KEKW emote.

But what does KEKW stand for? It comes from two different things. In North America and Europe - people will use the abbreviation LOL to mean "laugh out loud" to mean that they find something funny i.e. they're laughing out loud. In Korea instead of using "LOL" they use KEK. KEK is the Korean version of LOL.

Additionally KEK came from the massively popular MMORPG World of Warcraft. In this video game there's two opposing factions who face off against each other - Alliance and Horde. The game intentionally garbles the text of the enemy so that if something is typed out the enemy can't see it. For example: an alliance member who types out "Hello! How are you?" will be garbled into nonsense on an Horde player's screen. On World of Warcraft if someone was part of the Horde faction and they typed out LOL in chat, the enemy Alliance player would see KEK.

But what about the W in KEKW? Where does that come from? In emote language the letter W is placed at the end of to signify a face expression that is exaggerated. This is why you'll notice other emotes that also have the W as a suffix.

KEKW Twitch Emote Origin

The KEKW emote originated from a man named Juan Joya Borja who's a spanish comedian. He was on an interview on a popular late night TV show called Ratones Coloraos (Red Mice) in 2001. During the interview he started to describe a job that he had as a kitchen porter and it got him laughing so hard that it became uncontrollable. The KEKW facial expression came from this moment on the show.

Juan Joya Borja got the nickname "El Risitas" after this interview which means "giggles" or "little giggles." A fitting nickname after this fit of wheezing laughter.

You can watch the portion of the interview in which KEKW originated from, but good luck not laughing as you watch along. The laughter really starts going around the 4 minute and 40 second mark of the video. It's not uncommon for people to use the audio from his laugh as stream sound alerts too. You might recognize the laugh if you've spent time watching streams on YouTube and Twitch.

How Did The KEKW Emote Become Popular

While this interview on the TV show Ratones Coloraos happened in 2001, it wasn't until 2019 that the emote exploded in popularity. In 2019 a user took a still image of Juan Joya Borja's laugh from this interviewed, zoomed it in so that it was just his face, named it KEKW and uploaded it to FrankerFaceZ. FrankerFaceZ is a browser extension that can be used on Twitch to access, view, and use extra custom emotes.

Once KEKW was uploaded to FrankerFaceZ it grew in popularity and became one of the most popular emotes on Twitch. It is the 7th most popular emote on FrankerFaceZ and is currently being used on 140,840 Twitch channels. Funny enough you might not only see KEKW being spammed in a streamer's chat, but some streamers have even said KEKW or KEK when something funny has happened on their stream.

How to Use the KEKW Emote

You can start using the KEKW emote by installing a browser extension called Better Twitch TV (BTTV). Better Twitch TV is a free browser extension that improves Twitch by allowing you to choose and use a variety of emotes for FREE. Streamers are able to upload their own emotes, and viewers are able to use any emote that's been uploaded to the extension, which includes the KEKW emote.

You will need to install BTTV to use the KEKW emote on Twitch otherwise you won't be able to use or see it. Any viewers without BTTV installed on their computer will only see the word "KEKW" rather than the emote. Once you have BTTV installed on your computer, join a Twitch channel, and type "KEKW" in the chat. You'll see the word change into the emote as you type it out and you can send it into chat.

How is KEKW Pronounced?

You pronounce KEKW as: “KEK W”. Imagine you're saying CAKE by the A is replaced with an E. The W in KEKW is pronounced just like you would pronounce the letter W.

Why was KEKW removed?

In April 2021 the face of KEKW, Juan Joya Borja passed away. The KEKW emote was suspended for use for a single week during this time, but was reinstated. You can still use and see KEKW being used across the platform.

Is KEKW a global Twitch emote?

Global Twitch emotes are emotes that can be used universally on any channel on Twitch. KEKW is currently not a global Twitch emote. There's been no talk of making this emote a global emote, and it while it's a popular emote it would be surprising if Twitch decided to add it to the global emote collection.

How did KEKW die?

Juan Joya Borja, the face of KEKW, died in April 2021 from a long time illness. He was admitted to a hospital in Seville where he passed away at the age of 65.

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What are alternatives to the KEKW emote?

Two mildly popular alternativs to the KEKW emote include LULW and OMEGALUL. LULW is the face of TotalBiscuit (video game reviewer) laughing with the emote being a close up of his face. It signifies laughter just like KEKW. OMEGALUL is an emote of a face with a mouth wide open to express laughter. Basically it's someone laughing so hard their open mouth covers just about everything. Both of these emotes can also be used through the BTTV extension.

There's also different variations of KEKW such as KEKWhat and KEKWOW. KEKWOW is used when somethign exciting or thrilling happens on a stream. KEKWhat is used when something confusing is happening. Both of these emotes are facial expressions from Juan Joya Borja.

Why Is KEKW Relevant?

Many of the big streamers such as xQc, Hasanabi, Pokimane are part of what made KEKW so popular. The chats in these streams would often use and spam the emote so that it became more and more popular over time. With their 20,000+ viewers it's easy to have an emote rise in popularity when everyone is using it. Prior to KEKW, the LUL emote was incredibly popular. LUL is still used, but has lost some traction to KEKW and other newer emotes.

Also there's been many streamers who have had their own custom emotes that put their own unique spin on KEKW. I've seen KEKW redone in a variety of ways to meet the style and vibe of different streams. Looking for custom emotes? Check out our emote article to get some ideas.

Getting Started Streaming?

Are you new to Twitch, Youtube, and streaming in general? Learn more about how to grow your stream, what streaming tools you should get if you're just getting started, and some fun stream ideas you can try out. Streaming is a fun journey to take, but it can be overwhelming. My goal at Streamer Growth School is to help with useful advice, creative streaming ideas, and practical strategies that anyone can use.

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