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KLM Is Trending on TikTok, but What Exactly Does the Slang Term Refer To?

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Jul. 21 2021, Published 10:31 a.m. ET

Language is always evolving, and that seems to be especially true on social media. New slang is being introduced all the time, and its sudden introduction and widespread use can sometimes leave users confused as to exactly what a new term means. KLM is a perfect example of this. The term recently became popular on TikTok, but there are plenty of users who still don't know what it means.

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What does KLM mean on TikTok?

KLM could refer to a couple of different things. One common understanding of the term is that it's an unusual shortening of the world "calm," and is is used as a sourt of stand-in for that word. Users who use KLM are typically trying to signal that they are okay or fine. This is not the definition of calm that represents stillness. Instead, it's another way of telling other users that you're alright.

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That version of KLM has actually been fairly widespread on social media for much of the 2010s. The term has recently been adopted by TikTok, but its origins date back to the early days of platforms like Snapchat. KLM is just one tool in a typical TikTok users' arsenal, but that's often what it means when it's used.

KLM has another, more news-oriented meaning.

KLM has also been trending in recent days for reasons that have nothing to do with its meaning as a shortening of "calm." As it turns out, KLM also refers to an airline that has been in a bit of a business feud with Ryanair, another airline. KLM is the flag carrier airline of The Netherlands, and it recently received a significant relief package from the European Commission in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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KLM received €3.4 billion in support from the commission, even after the European General Court ordered the commission to reexamine the deal earlier this year. The court had suggested that the relief package was granted to KLM with "inadequate reasoning," but the commission approved the relief package yet again recently. In spite of the approval, Ryanair, a small Irish airline that brought the original lawsuit over the deal, said they planned to sue again.

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"Ryanair is opposed to all state support which is not transparent and which is discriminatory," a spokesman for the airline said. "This gigantic packages are unfair, illegal and distorts the market."

It's unclear when and how this battle between the two airlines will ultimately be resolved, but it seems like the KLM may sometimes be used to refer to the airline.

The dual meanings of KLM could make it confusing to users who are trying to figure out how it's being used on platforms like TikTok. In general, assuming that it means "calm" is probably the best bet, although if you start seeing references to the EU or flight delays, the user may actually be referring to the airline. Thankfully, airlines that fly primarily out of The Netherlands aren't often in the news.

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