Cardi B Wants to Know What "4K" Means on TikTok — and She's Not Alone

If you're wondering what "caught in 4k" means on TikTok, you're not alone, Cardi B has some questions. What popular slang term does it replace?

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Feb. 23 2021, Published 10:27 a.m. ET

Caught in 4k TikTok
Source: TikTok

If you've often been confused by modern slang, then welcome to the wonderful world of lame adulthood, where unfamiliar terms will not only escape you but make you angry once you discern their once-hidden meaning. The worst part about most of these slang terms is that the "mysteries" behind what they truly mean are often disappointing and not-so-clever. Yet here we are, answering the question: What does 4k mean on TikTok?

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What does "being caught in 4k" mean on TikTok?

Cardi B may have started gaining popularity in the hip-hop community at a pretty young age and she is no stranger to social media: She's got a whopping 8.2 million fans on her TikTok account, not to mention a staggering 83.6 million followers on Instagram. The Manhattan-born, Bronx-raised rapper is still one of the hottest artists in popular music and she often collaborates with other high-profile creatives who also have the winds at their backs.

But that doesn't mean she's privy to all of the lingo that youngins are using on social media platforms, like "4K" on TikTok? She asked on Twitter, "Please don't make fun of me guys or I will have a very depressing lonely night but what does 4K means?"

The phrase she was referring to was "caught in 4K."

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Many people, including tech enthusiast and YouTuber Marques Brownlee, chimed in to explain to Cardi the technical definition of what 4K is: "OK so hear me out. It's a measure of how many pixels wide a music video is."

Others chimed in with more detailed answers explaining exactly what is meant by 4K resolution:

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"4K resolution refers to a horizontal display resolution of approximately 4,000 pixels. Digital television and digital cinematography commonly use several different 4K resolutions. In television and consumer media, 3840 × 2160 is the dominant 4K standard."

Here's the thing though: That's not what 4K means on TikTok simply because TikTok videos aren't uploaded in 4K resolution.

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Sure, most modern TV sets can display 4K resolution media, and some smartphones feature 4K display screens, but the pixel density on a smartphone makes this kind of display a bit pointless (as the screens are relatively small). The ability for a phone's camera to record in 4K is actually a huge boon to anyone who takes a lot of video with their mobile device — but they're not uploading those videos to TikTok with that resolution.

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But "caught in 4K" on TikTok literally just means "caught red-handed."

Yes, furthering the tradition of creating shorthand slang that has the exact number of syllables as the phrase it's trying to replace but being infinitely more difficult in order to discern (like "cap" for "lie"), "caught in 4K" means that someone was caught doing something without a shadow of a doubt, 4K being a super high-resolution for the capture of said crime.

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Hopefully this trend goes away as quickly as it started, unless you're particularly fond of referencing pixel density in your colloquialisms.

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