You may have noticed the phrase “Press F to Pay Respects” or a single “F” being used in online discourse. This phrase has gained notoriety as a meme and is often used to express sympathies or humorously comment on a situation.
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Where Does “Press F to Pay Respects” Come From?
The term “Press F to Pay Respects” comes from the 2014 FPS shooter Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Early in the game, the main character’s best friend dies on duty. The next scene then brings the player to his best friend’s funeral. During this, a prompt appears on-screen that says “Press F to Pay Respects.”
Many who have played the game and seen videos of it online found the absurd and needless command hilariously and tonally out of place. Streamers and YouTubers wasted no time in making fun of the prompt as soon as it came up. Even the revered talk show host Conan O’Brien made fun of the moment in his “Clueless Gamer” segment. Thus, a new meme was born.
When to Use “F”
The letter “F” has been associated with fails and disappointments since the phrase “Press F to Pay Respects” became popular. Streamers will often ask their viewers if they can get some “‘Fs’ in the chat” whenever they die, make a mistake, or when these happen to another player online. The same can also apply when the streamer sees something embarrassingly disappointing while streaming.
In some cases, the phrase “Press F to Pay Respects” or the letter “F” alone may be used in a sarcastic or mocking manner by internet users to highlight the defeat of another individual in an argument. This usage is meant to be humorous and can be seen as a form of verbal jousting.
While the action was widely initially seen as more of a lighthearted mockery, some recently also use it unironically. Some commenters will leave an “F” on a genuinely sad post, like someone talking about a personal disappointment or grief, to express their sympathy.