Simps and Himbos — What They Mean and Where They Originated

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simp shorten
Image: ABC

A word became the subject of raised eyebrows on social media over the weekend when former opposition leader, Bill Shorten, urged Scott Morrison not to be a ‘simp’. For those among us who are not internet cretins, here’s what a simp is and why it’s the antithesis of another popular internet phrase — the himbo.

What’s a simp and why is Bill Shorten saying it on television?

A simp can be described as someone, mostly a man, who tries hard to get a woman’s attention and often in a self-deprecating manner. On the ever-reliable Urban Dictionary, it’s defined as:

“Someone who will say anything to please someone, particularly a girl, in the hopes that they will be in good favor with that person.”

Like all slang words that enter the internet domain, however, the ‘simp’ has had a number of different meanings and inferences.

The fourth most popular definition of the word on Urban Dictionary alleges it actually stands for “Suckas Idolizing Mediocre Pussy” and this suggestion is backed up by the popular memepedia, Know Your Meme, for what it’s worth.

Bill Shorten’s appearance on Sunday’s Insiders program saw the word used to criticise the Prime Minister’s alleged pandering to US President Donald Trump. When asked by Insiders host, David Spears, what simp meant, Shorten responded saying it implied ‘soft’.

It’s also been used to describe a simple or foolish person — a shortened version of ‘simpleton’.

But the term hasn’t been without its criticism. It’s been regarded as misogynistic, beckoning males to act in a manner more in line with the toxic masculinity that’s been called out in recent years. According to an article in Mel Magazine, the incels of Reddit regarded “anyone who treated women with a semblance of respect” a simp.

simp google trends
Image: Google

The word’s recent popularity, which peaked with Australian audiences in April 2020 according to Google Trends, means its definition is really dictated by the internet and is not a particularly desirable term to be called.

How do simps differ from himbos, incels and f*ckboys?

Simp is not the only word being used to define male archetypes on social media. Like other household terms incels and fuckboys that have dominated thinkpieces and popular discourse, simps and himbos too have entered the chat.

A himbo is a hot, intelligent man respectful of the women around him — a portmanteau of him and bimbo. It too has been around for decades and was reportedly first used back in a 1988 Washington Post article. A Google search of the term chucks up a photo of Chris Hemsworth in his role as Kevin the receptionist in the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters. A lovable, hot but ultimately, dumb character.

The interrelation of the phrases are perhaps best summed up by this TikTok by Kyle Prue.

In his quest to become a ‘himbo’, Prue first must define what it is and how it diverges from an incel, a simp and a fuckboy.

Each of the phrases occupy an XY graph, Prue proposes, with fuckboys being ‘hot’ but disrespectful to women, incels being ‘not hot’ and disrespectful, simps also being ‘not hot’ but respectful while himbos managed to be both hot and respectful — the ultimate goal.

@kyleprueBecoming a Himbo Part 2: What We Know So Far ##fyp ##foryoupage ##himbosrights

♬ Hood Baby – Kbfr

It’s, of course, a bit of fun and not the final word on the term that’s sure to develop over the next few years. Still, it serves as a good guide to your entry into internet lingo.

Like Karen before it, simp is another product of the internet that has entered the mainstream long after its popular usage peaked.

Comments

  • Speaking as someone of the same generation as Bill Shorten (though not a big fan) when he said ‘simp’ I assumed he meant someone who is simpering, or overly obsequious. Think Mr Smithers’ attitude to Mr Burns in The Simpsons.

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