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Home / Tips and Tricks / What does YMMV mean and how do you use it?

What does YMMV mean and how do you use it?

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Initialism YMMV is common online. You often see it on social media and in text messages and website comments. Not sure what that means? That̵

7;s what we’re here for!

What does it mean?

YMMV stands for “your mileage may (or may not) vary.” This acronym is often used to refer to the differences between people’s experiences, preferences or places. It’s similar to AFAIK: “as far as I know.”

It is also a fairly common phrase in real conversations. The literal version, which refers to the actual fuel collection that a vehicle receives, is a useful disclaimer. Even if two people drive the same car, they can get different gas efficiency based on their driving habits.

YMMV’s history

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Unlike other initialisms, which were invented and cultivated on the internet, “your mileage may vary” dates back to the 1970s and 80s in the United States. During that time, car manufacturers marketed their estimated mileage to compete.

However, due to the variations in driving conditions, they had no way of guaranteeing the exact mileage that customers would actually receive. Therefore, these ads would include the disclaimer “Your mileage may vary.”

This phrase continued to be used in public discourse and eventually became a common American term. It probably became an initialism in the 90s or 00s when people began to shorten the language on internet platforms, such as internet relay chat (IRC) and instant messaging (IM).

The use of YMMV continued to grow and now you see it often in Yelp and Amazon reviews, tweets and message boards.

Compare products and services

You often see YMMV in online product reviews and buyer guides. In this context, reviewers try to soften a reader’s expectations, as personal experiences with the same product may vary.

For example, if you were writing a review of a cell phone, you could say “battery life generally lasted all day, but YMMV.” This means that the battery life depends on your usage habits. If the screen and mobile data are often on, the battery will probably discharge much faster.

You can also use this phrase on products or services that may not be completely consistent with every purchase. For example, if you order food via an app, the quality of it upon delivery will probably vary depending on how far you are from the restaurant. So “your mileage may vary” depending on your address.

RELATED: How to detect fake reviews on Amazon, Yelp and other websites

The shopping experience

In addition to differences in products and services, YMMV can also apply to the actual shopping experience. An example might be if someone says they managed to get a discount code for a shopping site sent to their email. Not everyone may get that code, so that person may say that “your mileage may vary.”

For another example, let’s say someone posts on a bulletin board that a particular video game is a 50% discount on their local Best Buy. While this is good information, there are plenty of Best Buys throughout the United States, and the game may not be discounted at all.

YMMV would work in this situation to signal that people should live up to their expectations.

Differences in opinion

Another common use of YMMV is to account for differences of opinion, especially when discussing art and entertainment. If you recommend a scary horror movie, you can say, “I really enjoyed how scary this movie was, but YMMV.” This means that you take into account people’s different tolerance for fear.

This is the kinder version of IMO (“in my opinion”) or IMHO (“in my humble (or honest) opinion”). In this use, YMMV conveys that tastes can vary wildly from person to person.

How to use YMMV

“Your mileage may vary” is quite easy to use. If you have a problem, replace it with “but your experience may be different”, then you get basically the same meaning.

Here are some ways to use YMMV:

  • This laptop feels pretty heavy in your hand, but YMMV.
  • I managed to get the $ 5 deal at noon at my local branch, but YMMV.
  • I absolutely love the band’s new album, but YMMV.
  • YMMV, but it took about four days for the package to arrive.

Want to learn more about other terms online? Check out SMH and TBH next!

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